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The Post-Pandemic Safeguarding Crisis: Experts Advise How Best To Protect Young Adults And Children In The UK

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There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic placed a significant strain on the public worldwide but research highlights that, for children, young people and adults, it is likely to have had a detrimental and lasting impact.

Research reveals a staggering 77% increase in children needing specialist treatment for severe mental health issues at the beginning of this year, according to the BBC, with this rise being thought to be a consequence of the pandemic.

‘Safeguarding’ concerns the promotion of children’s and vulnerable people’s welfare in order to protect their well-being, health and human rights. 

And as a result of lockdowns and restrictions, rates of poverty, abuse, and negative mental health has been on the rise, highlighting that now more than ever, taking action to safeguard children, young people and vulnerable adults is all the more important on a global scale.

Ahead of Safeguarding Awareness Week on the 20th of June, Virtual College, specialist online learning providers, have offered some useful tips on how to best equip yourself with safeguarding knowledge and shared some expert advice about how to support these vulnerable demographics.

  1. Understanding Safeguarding Legislation

Safeguarding is reflected in Government policy and agenda, with legislation in place in both the UK and around the world to help safeguard children and vulnerable individuals. 

Sarah Baker, Chief Learning Officer at Virtual College, says:

“Understanding safeguarding legislation is highly important for all individuals, but particularly for businesses who work with both vulnerable adults and children.

“In these cases, safeguarding policies, that align with current legislation, should be in place to best protect these individuals. Not only will this ensure the safety and wellbeing of these individuals, but it will also ensure businesses and their reputations are protected”.

  1. Make An Effort To Understand Young Minds

To know how to best safeguard children, we must first be able to understand how their minds work, advises Virtual College.

Sarah Baker commented:“It is all the more important that, in order to protect young people, we make an effort to understand how they think, and what determines their actions, to best identify issues such as self-harm and how to tackle them”. 

For example, a distressing number of young people have self-harmed, with a recent scientific study reporting that as high as 25% of young people are affected by self-harm. But how will we know what the best way is to support these young people if we don’t first understand how and why their mental health reached this point?” 

Virtual College offers a bespoke CPD certified course in ‘Understanding Young Minds’  that allows individuals to learn how to talk to young people about both self-harm and emotional resilience.

Taking up to 45 minutes to complete, the free online course is ideal for anyone seeking knowledge about self-harm and how they can talk to children and young people about it. 

  1. Learn How To Identify When Safeguarding May Be Necessary

Being aware of situations and scenarios where young people and vulnerable individuals’ welfare could be at risk is one of the most important steps in ensuring that they are safe and protected. 

Sarah Baker mentioned: “Knowing what safeguarding means is important, without a doubt, but it is not as important as being able to identify instances whereby individuals are not being appropriately safeguarded or where they may be experiencing issues including neglect, abuse and extra-familiar harm”. 

“Being able to understand the warning signs of these issues is crucial, particularly after the strain that the last two years has placed on the world. Essentially, it could help to save lives”. 

Virtual College offers a ‘Learning From Serious Case Reviews’ course. Advancing from Levels 1 to 4, the course helps to raise awareness through the use of case reviews so that individuals can understand and respond to safeguarding issues appropriately. 

The free accredited course takes a mere 1 hour to complete, with critical case study modules helping learners apply their knowledge from a range of scenarios through the use of exercises.

  1. Take The Opportunity To Train In Safeguarding 

If safeguarding is an aspect of your work or daily life, it is important that you take the necessary steps to train yourself on the topic and equip yourself with the tools needed to safeguard in everyday life. 

Sarah Baker stated: “For anyone that safeguarding plays heavily into their careers or daily lives, taking an accredited course can help to ensure the safety of those who need it whilst carrying out daily tasks and responsibilities”. 

Virtual College recommends, at a minimum, its ‘Level 1 Safeguarding Everyone’ course for anyone looking to better understand and learn the necessary skills for safeguarding children, vulnerable adults and young people. 

For those who already have an understanding of safeguarding or who have received prior qualifications, Virtual College offers more advanced courses, such as their Level 2 and Level 3 ‘Safeguarding Everyone’ courses.

If you’re unsure as to what level course you may need, you can refer to Virtual College’s ‘What level of safeguarding training do I need?’ resource to help you identify your current understanding of safeguarding, and how you can progress.

  1. The Importance Of Implementing Safeguarding In The Workplace

Now that lockdowns and restrictions have eased, many already have or are in the process of making the move back to the office environment – but it is important to consider the psychological impact that this can have.  

Sarah Baker had this to say: “Now that many employees are returning to the workplace after 2 years of working from home, it is all the more important to be aware of why safeguarding is important in the workplace and how safeguarding measures come into play”. 

“Although safeguarding may more commonly apply to children and young individuals, it can indeed apply to anyone so employers should be aware of their responsibility. This includes safeguarding those who may be considered vulnerable and protecting them from instances of discrimination, abuse or matters that may impact their health and wellbeing adversely whilst in the workplace”.

Virtual College’s resource titled ‘What is Safeguarding in the Workplace?’  is a useful guide that outlines who may need safeguarding and how to practice it in the workplace. It allows any employees returning to the workplace to ensure that they are best adhering to safeguarding legislation and protecting others around them.

To learn more about the Safeguarding courses available at Virtual College, please visit ​​https://www.virtual-college.co.uk/search?q=safeguarding

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