During the Covid-19 pandemic, your support to a refugee family has changed. It’s highly likely that all of your support has moved to being online, or contact with the family you support has been conducted through windows or from a pathway – these are certainly not ordinary times.
As with anyone in our community, our commitment to the care, wellbeing and safeguarding of one another remains a constant however, some of the ways in which we identify a safeguarding concern might no longer be available to us. It’s worth putting in place measures in line with your existing safeguarding policies and procedure during this time. It’s really important that any review of your safeguarding procedures are carried out in conjunction with your Lead Sponsor and any changes communicated to your Group.
Some areas to think about:
- Has your Local Authority Safeguarding Team launched any new updates, resources or assistance that might be helpful?
- Does every member of the family know how to contact you for help and assistance?
- Does every member of your Group know what to do should they have a safeguarding concern?
We’re all seeing media coverage of the increase to the dangers surrounding child abuse, domestic violence and coercive control during our isolation measures. It can feel awkward to raise anything which may be a safeguarding concern, but we would recommend that you do so to flag that help and support is available should someone need this.
You could do this by:
- In your ordinary interactions with the family, you would usually have something to do with each member of the family; and naturally you will have different relationships with each individual – we may use the term family – but this is not a single homogenous unit. Make sure you keep up contact with them individually. Offer an option of ways to get in contact – could it be email and phone, as well as video calls if you can offer these. If you have not had any recent interaction with a particular family member, ask to speak to them.
- Reshare the Welcome to the UK booklet that the family will have been given – whilst we may be isolated, the same laws apply. If the family don’t have a copy, you could download the sections from our training website and email them to the family- section 7 specifically outlines child protection and domestic violence and contains links and contact information for those needing help.
- Keep in mind that the UK response to domestic violence and physical punishment will have been included in the curriculum of the training the family had prior to leaving the country of asylum
- Create a file of useful contact information for the family – this could include reminders on how to contact your Group along with helpline and advice services and the emergency ‘make yourself heard’ details. This is where you can call 999, and if in danger and cannot speak, you can press 55 and a connection will be established and help found.
- Help adults in a family to set parental restrictions on devices – with a likely increase to the use of devices during isolation, ask the guardians of children if they need assistance in keeping children safe online. The NSPCC has advice on preventing online grooming
- Access the Home Office guide to safeguarding from harmful influences online
- Unfortunately, there may be some who try to use the Covid-19 crisis as an opportunity to carry out fraud or scamming. Remind the family you support that they should not disclose bank account, personal details or information online, by phone or in person unless they are very clear on why, and how this information is used.
If you are worried about the safety of any member of the family you are supporting, speak to your safeguarding lead immediately.
- Gov.uk advice, including links to helplines
- Domestic Abuse Advice Lines
- Information about the Make Yourself Heard service
- Arabic translation of escaping domestic abuse
- Share Aware – keeping young people safe online
- Take Five – advice on preventing and protecting yourself against online fraud
- Home Office guide for digital safety during Covid-19
- The National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV) has a self-referral system to apply for an emergency court injunction.
- Women's aid safety and support resources for survivors and for their family and community translated into a number of languages.