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Waltham Forest Safeguarding Children Board (WFSCB)

Waltham Forest Safeguarding Children Board logo

The Waltham Forest Safeguarding Children Board (WFSCB) is a group of professionals including police, doctors, social workers, teachers, members of the community and many others. We meet regularly to make sure services are working together to keep children and young people safe.

It’s our job to work hard to make sure that Waltham Forest is a safe place for children and young people to grow up in. The WFSCB has an independent person who asks lots of questions of agencies to check that what they do to safeguard children and young people is working. 

  • If you're a child, or young person - you can find information here on how to keep safe
  • If you're a parent, carer or resident - find out how to keep your child safe
  • If you're a professional - find information about processes and local resources

Children and young people

As a young person, you have the right to be safe at all times, in all environments, whether that’s at home, school, on the street, or online. You have the right to grow up safe and free from the threat of being hurt – physically or emotionally – or not being cared for properly. All the adults in your life have a legal responsibility to protect you.

If something is worrying you, making you scared, or you’re worried about someone else, and you’re not sure if it is abuse or not, it can be hard to know what to do. It’s important to talk to someone you trust like your parent or carer, friend, teacher or another adult you are comfortable with, even if you’re not sure.

Here you will find information on keeping safe and where you can go for support, help, information, or simply someone to talk to.

Where can I get help from?

If it’s an emergency, call 999

You can contact Childline by either text, email or phoning their free 24-hour helpline on 0800 1111.

You can text the NSPCC helpline anonymously on 88858.

If you would like to get some help locally, contact the Waltham Forest Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) team. A social worker will speak to you:

  • Phone: 020 8496 2310
  • Opening times: Monday to Thursday 9am to 5.15pm, Friday 9am to 5pm)
  • Out-of-hours phone: 020 8496 3000

What is safeguarding?

You may have heard the term ‘child protection’ before. Child protection is about dealing with concerns that a child may be being hurt or mistreated by someone. A social worker’s job, with the help of other workers like the police, health visitors and teachers, is to stop children from being harmed in any way. Safeguarding looks at what needs to happen to keep children and young people safe.

The Government has published a guide for young people explaining what abuse is and how to keep children safe. Read and download the Young Person's Guide to Kepeping Children Safe on the Children's Commissioner website. 

What is neglect?

Every young person needs, and has a right, to have:

  • clothes that are clean and warm and shoes that fit and keep you dry
  • enough to eat and drink
  • protection from dangerous situations
  • somewhere warm, dry and comfortable to sleep
  • help when you're ill or you've been hurt
  • love and care from your parents or carers
  • support with your education
  • access to and help with medication, if needed

 Every child and young person has the right to be looked after properly. If you’re not getting the important things you need at home, you could be being neglected.

Further information

Watch this short film from Childline -

Read Leanne’s story on the Childline website – she talks about how neglect affected her when she was growing up

Child sexual expolitation

Child sexual exploitation or CSE is a type of child abuse. It happens when a child or young person is encouraged or forced to take part in sexual activity in exchange for something such as presents, money, or simply attention.

CSE can happen to any child or young person, boy or girl, and it may well seem like a normal friendship or relationship to begin with. No matter who is affected by CSE it is never, ever their fault – even if they have agreed to some kind of sexual activity because they felt they ‘should’, had no other choice or didn’t fully understand consent.

Further information: leaflets

Barnardo’s: How to keep you and your friends safe from exploitation  

Further information: films

The Children's Society: Taylor’s Story – child sexual exploitation 

Staying safe online

Using the internet is an important part of many people’s lives, but it’s important to stay safe whilst online as things could go wrong. Ppsting pictures you wish you never did, sharing details about yourself you wish you hadn’t, or being bullied are just some examples.

If you feel frightened, threatened, worried, or unsafe about anything that has happened whilst using the internet, whether it’s on social media (such as Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter or Instagram), or anywhere else on the internet, you should report it, as you have a right to be safe on the internet.

If you are worried about anything that has happened on the internet you can tell:

Top tips for staying safe online

  1. Be careful what you share. If it’s something you wouldn't want your teachers or parents to see, it's probably best not to post it, because once it's online, it's out of your control.
  2. Never meet people you don't know, even if you get on with them online, it’s impossible to know who they really are.
  3. Use a complex password. It should be hard for other people to guess your password and it's a good idea to change it regularly.

Further information: websites

Further information: films

  • Exposed This 10 minute drama has been designed for 14 to 18 year olds and deals with online issues that teenagers commonly face.
  • CEOP: Stop Speak Support 3 simple steps to tackling cyberbullying.

Mental wellbeing

Mental health is all about:

  • how good you feel about yourself and those around you
  • your ability to socialise and form relationships
  • being able to learn from others
  • developing psychologically and emotionally 
  • having the strength to overcome difficulties and challenges in everyday life
  • believing in yourself and being confident in the decisions you make 

However, mental ill-health is very common. Around 1 in 10 young people have a mental health diagnosis and there are lots of others that are suffering with anxiety or depression but have not had this officially recognised.

Getting support

Many young people put off getting help with their mental health because they are worried what people may think of them or think that no one else will understand.  Mental ill health is treatable but it’s really important to get help at the earliest opportunities before things become more serious.

You can get support, advice and treatment in many forms. Firstly, a visit to the GP will kick start getting help. Talking to someone you trust such as a friend, sibling, parent/carer, youth worker or teacher is also important.

If you don’t know who to turn to or you want to speak to someone first that doesn’t know you, the following organisations are here to help:

Kooth is a FREE, anonymous, confidential, safe, online wellbeing service. It offers counselling, information and forums for children and young people.

Counsellors are available every day from:

  • 12noon to 10pm, Monday to Friday
  • 6pm to 10pm, Saturday and Sunday

There is a live discussion forum on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 7.30pm to 9pm. Topics pages and articles are accessible at any time. Log on through mobile, laptop and tablet.

Samaritans is a 24-hour helpline for anyone who is distressed or experiencing emotional problems 

Childline is a free, private and confidential service

Phone: 0800 1111 

Also available is a 1-2-1 counsellor chat

Further information: websites 

Papyrus provides confidential support and advice to young people struggling with thoughts of suicide, and anyone worried about a young person through their helpline, HOPELINEUK.

If you are having thoughts of suicide or are concerned for a young person who might be you can contact HOPELINEUK for confidential support and practical advice.

Opening hours:

  • 10am to 10pm Monday to Friday
  • 2pm to 10pm weekends
  • 2pm to 10pm Bank Holidays

Invictus Trust – Mental Health Portal information for young people on depression, anxiety and self-harm.

Selfharm UK help and advice on about self-harm, including eating disorders.

Stem4 Calm App helps manage the urge to self-harm.

The Mix essential support with looking after your on-line mental health for under 25s.

Other resources

Ways to wellbeing The Children’s Society have put these ‘five ways to well-being for children’ on a set of postcards as a reminder of the things that children can do to support their own wellbeing. 

Parents, carers and residents

Patterns of family life vary and there is no single, perfect way to bring up children. Good parenting involves caring for children’s basic needs which includes:

  • keeping them safe
  • showing them warmth and love
  • providing the stimulation needed for their development and to help them achieve their potential
  • providing a stable environment where they experience consistent guidance and boundaries

As a parent, carer, neighbour, or anyone in contact with children and families you may at times have concerns about the welfare of a child. These could be concerns about their development, appearance or behaviour which may indicate signs of abuse. We all have a personal responsibility to notice when a child or young person may be being abused and pass our concerns to someone who can act to protect them.

Where can I get help from?

If you believe that a child or young person is at immediate risk, this should be reported without delay to the police service as a 999 emergency.

If you have concerns about a child that do not require immediate attention you should seek advice from professionals.

Contact the Waltham Forest Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) team on:

Phone: 020 8496 2310

  • Monday to Thursday: 9am to 5.15pm
  • Friday 9am to 5pm

Out of hours phone: 020 8496 3000 

Keeping children safe online

Did you know?

  • cyberbullying is now more common than face-to-face bullying among 9 to16 year-olds
  • more than half of parents ask their children for advice about technology

 As a parent or carer, you play a key role in helping your child to stay safe online.

Further information: websites

Internet Matters offers a range of guides providing general information on how to keep children safe in their digital world.

UK Safer Internet Centre offers tips, advice, guides and resources to help keep your child safe online

Parentzone provides support and information to parents, children and schools to help families to navigate the internet safely and confidently. They work with parents, schools, governments and businesses to study, understand and address the impact of emerging technologies on young people. 

Child sexual exploitation

Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is where a young person under the age of 18 is encouraged, trapped, forced or coerced into a sexual relationship or situation by an adult.

It often involves the young person being offered something in return for performing sexual acts, such as alcohol, cigarettes, gifts, money, drugs and affection.

Both girls and boys are at risk of sexual exploitation, and it is seriously harmful to children both emotionally and physically. Children and young people often find it very hard to understand or accept that they are being abused through sexual exploitation, and this increases their risk of being exposed to violent assault and life threatening events by those who abuse them.

Things to look out for are:

  • going missing for periods of time or regularly returning home late
  • staying out late or overnight with no explanation as to where they have been
  • going places that you know they cannot afford
  • skipping school or being disruptive in class
  • suddenly acquiring expensive gifts such as mobile phones, jewellery – even drugs – and not being able to explain how they came by them
  • having mood swings and changes in temperament
  • noticeable changes in behaviour – becoming secretive, defensive or aggressive when asked about their personal life
  • wearing inappropriate clothing that is too adult or revealing for their age
  • displaying inappropriate sexualised behaviours, such as over familiarity with strangers, dressing in a sexualised manner or sending sexualised images by mobile phone (‘sexting’)
  • getting into trouble with the police
  • bruises, marks on the body, sexually-transmitted diseases, pregnancy, drug and alcohol abuse or self-harm
  • repeated phone calls, letters, emails from adults outside the family social circle

Further information: leaflets 

Barnardo’s: Spot the signs

Parents Protect: Helping you protect children and young people from sexual abuse and exploitation

Further information: websites

Parents Against Child Exploitation (PACE)

It’s Not Okay

Further information: films

There are a number of short films available from across the UK that you may find helpful to watch as a parent or carer or member of the public.

Know the SignsEmma’s Story – a victim’s perspective of CSE

NSPCC – the story of Jay

Parents – Spot the Signs

My New Friend – the grooming and exploitation of boys and young men

Further information: e-learning

Keep them safe: an interactive CSE learning tool from PACE

Private tuition

Whilst the vast majority of private tutors and centres are reputable and prioritise safeguarding children and young people, as a parent or carer, you still need to take care to make proper checks when hiring their services. 

Checklist for making sure that tutor and tuition centres are suitable and do not pose a risk to your child:

Is this tutor/teacher/centre safe to work with children? Check for DBS, references, qualification certificates, what other people and your children say. Inform your child's school of your intention to provide additional private tutoring.

How will this tutor/teacher/centre respond to my child’s behaviour? It is important for a tutor to meet your child so that you can see if they get on before tutoring. What are the expectations around behaviour?  Are these age-appropriate?

- Does this tutor/teacher/centre understand how to keep my child safe? Remain on the premises when tutoring takes place in your home or in a tuition centre. Ensure that you are able to monitor the work undertaken. Talk to your child about their progress and see their written work.

Looking after somebody else's child

Private fostering is when a child under 16 (18 if they are disabled) is in the care of someone other than their parents or close relative.

Parents and carers must notify the council when agreeing on private fostering.

Professionals working with children have a duty to notify the council of private fostering situations. You should discuss this with the carer and/or parents of the child.

To notify the council of a private fostering arrangement, or to find out more, please contact MASH on:

Phone: 020 8496 2310 

  • Monday to Thursday 9am to 5.15pm
  • Friday 9am to 5pm

Out of hours phone: 020 8496 3000

Email: MASHrequests@walthamforest.gov.uk

Other useful resources

The Children Society has developed a parent’s guide called How to support your child’s well-being which gives some simple tips on how they can encourage children to take part in the activities that could enhance their well-being.

Are you a parent or carer who is concerned about your child? Or perhaps you just want some hints and tips on parenting? MindEd for Families has online advice and information from trusted sources and will help you to understand and identify early issues and best support your child.

Educate Against Hate will provide you with practical information and advice on protecting children from radicalisation and extremism.

Professionals and volunteers

The children and young people's workforce consists of a vast number of professionals and volunteers who each have their own level of expertise and skills to improve the outcome and welfare of children.

As part of the workforce that is responsible for safeguarding children, it is important that you:

  • make sure that the child is at the centre of all the work you do and that you listen to children that you work with
  • take a Think Family approach
  • have professional curiosity
  • work collaboratively with other agencies and services
  • reflect on safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children in management and supervisions
  • challenge other professional views in a respectful manner to understand issues relating to children and young people

Where can I get help from?

If you feel that a child or young person is at immediate risk of harm please call the police on 999 who can provide an immediate response.

Alternatively, you can contact your local police on 101 at any time.

If you don’t believe the risk requires immediate action, contact the Waltham Forest Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) team to discuss your concerns:

Phone: 020 8496 2310

  • Monday to Thursday 9am to 5.15pm
  • Friday 9am to 5pm

Out of hours phone: 020 8496 3000 

A social worker from the MASH team will speak to you. They will need to get as much information as possible about the child and the family.

Keeping children safe is everyone's responsibility and your call could mean the start of getting the right help to a family and may even save a child’s life.

Guide to thresholds and practice

The Waltham Forest Guide to Thresholds and Practice for working with children and families in Waltham Forest is the multi-agency document that sets out our vision and values, and the role and responsibilities of all agencies to work together so that every child in the borough has the best possible outcomes.

Professionals and volunteers should refer to the guide before making a referral to the Mash team.

Learn more about thresholds.

Download the Guide to Thresholds and Practice (PDF 656KB)

Concerned about adults working or volunteering with children?

For advice and guidance about concerns and allegations against adults working or volunteering with children, contact the Waltham Forest Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO):

Phone: 0208 496 3646 or 07791 559 789

Email: LADO@walthamforest.gov.uk

How to resolve professional disagreements (escalation process)

If you have concerns regarding the lack of response to professional opinions and judgements expressed by your staff about safeguarding matters - including concerns that social care is not taking appropriate actions regarding the well-being of a child, or are not responding in a timely fashion to your concerns - you can escalate this using the escalation letter below.

Download the escalation letter (PDF 1110KB)

About the Waltham Forest Safeguarding Children Board

The Waltham Forest Safeguarding Children Board (WFSCB) ensures that all local children's agencies within Waltham Forest work together for the safety and well-being of children and young people.

Local safeguarding children boards are a statutory requirement for ensuring and monitoring the effectiveness of local agencies that provide services for children up to the age of 18. The board works with partner agencies to promote the safety and well-being of children and young people within the borough.

The WFSCB follows guidance from Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018 (on GOV.UK) and in accordance with the Children Act 1989 and the Children Act 2004.

The WFSCB is currently working on three priority areas:

  • adolescents safeguarding
  • child neglect
  • safeguarding in settings

Download the priorities of our other strategic boards (PDF 264KB)

Adolescents safeguarding

Adolescence is a complicated time for both young people, care givers and those that work with them. 

We have developed a resource to support and improve how you respond to children that you work with who are aged 10 to 18 years who experience risk or harm. The Safeguarding Adolescents Practice Guide (PDF 1.2MB) will help you to better understand the vulnerabilities children are exposed to.

Watch our bitesize videos on our Learning and Improving Practice page to hear four good practice examples of working with young people in a trauma-informed and Think Family way.

Child neglect

Neglect is the ongoing failure to meet a child's basic needs. It is also the most common form of child abuse and is a major theme in Serious Case Reviews.

As a result we have developed a multi-agency resource for working with child neglect.

Download the Child Neglect Resource for Multiagency Working (PDF 824KB)

The One Panel - referrals for statutory reviews

To find out more about One Panel and referrals visit the main please visit the main Strategic Partnership Board page.

Learning and improving practice

This forum oversees a multi-agency audit programme. Multi-agency means everyone who worked with the family, such as health, adult social care, education or police.

Visit the main Learning and Improving Practice page for more information including video guides and documents.

WFSCB annual report

If you require access to previous annual reports you can make a request by emailing zahra.jones@walthamforest.gov.uk.

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