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Royal Borough of Greenwich

Project start date: February 2018

We (Royal Borough of Greenwich) were awarded up to £1.95m to implement SafeCORE – a whole family approach to address the ‘stop/start response’ by children’s social care to domestic violence and abuse. SafeCORE will work with families to improve relationships, address both the short and long term harm whilst achieving goals.

Project Summary


Locally and nationally there is a ‘stop/start response’ to domestic violence and abuse (DVA). Children and their families come to the attention of Children’s Social Care (CSC) triggered by issues relating to DVA however due to the often chronic nature of the underlying causes of the DVA within the household or family that remain unaddressed they are repeatedly referred, and although some reach the threshold for assessment, they don’t reach the threshold for a service. Needs escalate and they re-enter the children’s social care system at a later stage with more severe needs.

As part of our innovation, voluntary engagement with families will be initiated where there have been two or more contacts to CSC in the last 12 months with domestic violence as the presenting need, but where statutory intervention thresholds are not met.

We are in the process of setting up the first 2 of 6 ‘SafeCORE’ units that will bring multi-disciplinary skillsets together. Each unit will consist of a SafeCORE Practice Lead (lead SW), a SafeCORE Social Worker, a SafeCORE Adult Practitioner and a Clinical Psychologist. Each unit will be supported by a SafeCORE Co-ordinator who will provide comprehensive administrative support allowing practitioners to spend more time doing direct work with families. In late 2018, we will set up 4 additional units.

The SafeCORE approach will centre on a ‘whole family’ approach, which recognises the negative impact of a purely victim/perpetrator approach, to prevent the issues repeating within multiple contexts. The Science of Compassion will be applied to a child and family context, combining it with family led systemic concepts, relational approaches and practical support to engage families in addressing the causal factors of DVA, specifically ‘situational couple violence’ (SCV).
SafeCORE will support families to create better environments for children; increasing positive experiences and decreasing SCV, to prevent children’s needs escalating and mitigate against the likelihood that they would re-enter the CSC system at a later stage with more severe needs.

Project contact details

David Lonton (Service Leader)



Project evaluators

Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families

Project partners

Sophie Humphreys – Independent Child Protection Expert and Founding Chair, Pause

Dr Charlie Heriot–Maitland – Partner / Clinical Psychologist, Balanced Minds & Research Fellow at Kings College London

Dr Anita Schrader McMillan Senior, Research Fellow Department of Social Policy and Intervention, University of Oxford

Jo Silver – Director of Practice, SafeLives

Sheena Gohal & David Levy – Greenwich CAHMS / Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust

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