In these challenging times when we are physically apart due to COVID-19, it’s more important than ever to look out for each other, to know the signs of safeguarding issues, to report anything that doesn’t feel right, and to speak up if we need support.
That’s the message from Calderdale Council, Calderdale Safeguarding Children Partnership and Calderdale Safeguarding Adults Board, as safeguarding risks may increase for vulnerable children and adults while they are staying at home and social distancing.
For example, children may spend more time online, making them more vulnerable to cyber-bullying, sexual grooming, exploitation and abuse. Tense home environments increase the risk of domestic abuse. Whilst there are many kind and helpful people in our communities, some people try to take advantage of others through scamming and financial abuse.
However, the signs of abuse or neglect can be more hidden as people are not seen as much at school or in other public places. Safeguarding is everyone’s business – we all have a part to play in spotting when things aren’t right, even when we’re social distancing.
The Council has sent out a leaflet about COVID-19 to all Calderdale residents, which includes advice on safeguarding and who to contact if you have concerns.
Advice and contacts are also available on the Council’s website at www.calderdale.gov.uk/v2/coronavirus/advice-and-updates
Cllr Tim Swift, Leader of Calderdale Council, said:
“Unfortunately some people are at greater risk during this difficult time; either of isolation and neglect, or of domestic violence and other forms of abuse. We can all help vulnerable children and adults by being aware of safeguarding risks and signs, and what we can do to reduce or report them.
“Safeguarding remains a priority for the Council and other agencies. In the Council’s 10-point plan on our response to COVID-19, point three is to target support at key vulnerable groups to reduce inequalities, as we anticipate an increase in safeguarding and vulnerability issues.
“We’re continuing to work with providers and voluntary organisations, and vital support services are still running across Calderdale. When we become aware of concerns, we will work with individuals to help keep them safe. We urge people to be extra alert to others’ behaviour at this challenging time, and to come forward if they suspect that anyone is at risk.”
It is also important to familiarise yourself with some of the scams associated with COVID-19. Scammers try targeting vulnerable people in a variety of ways – at the door, by phone or text, through the post or online. They may pose as the Government or other trusted organisations; as healthcare workers falsely claiming to be offering ‘home-testing’ for coronavirus; as companies offering refunds on taxes and utilities to get your bank details; or as volunteers offering to do your shopping, asking for money and then disappearing.
Please follow the guidance from National Trading Standards and Friends Against Scams: Beware of COVID-19 scams(external link), and the following advice:
- Don’t be rushed into making a decision.
- Only buy things from reputable companies and think before you give money or personal information.
- Don’t assume everyone is genuine. It’s OK to refuse or ignore requests. If someone claims to be from a charity, ask them for ID.
- Be suspicious of requests for money up front.
- Check with family and friends before accepting an offer of help if you are unsure.
- Don’t respond to requests by phone or email to update personal information or passwords, and don’t open an email attachment unless you know who it is from and are expecting it.
If you are one of the hundreds of amazing volunteers helping vulnerable people in Calderdale, you are important ‘eyes and ears’ for those at risk of abuse, neglect or scams, so please look out for any signs of safeguarding issues and report any concerns.
- In an emergency / if you are in immediate danger, ring 999
- If you are in danger and cannot talk on the phone, dial 999 and then press 55. This will transfer your call to the relevant police force who will help without you having to speak.
- To report a crime, call the Police on 101
- If you are concerned that you or someone you know is being abused or neglected, please call:
01422 393336 for children and young people
01422 393000 for adults
01422 288000 for children, young people and adults if it’s during the evening or at the weekend
- If you have access to the internet, visit calderdale-safeguarding.co.uk(external link)
- If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, call Calderdale Staying Safe on 01422 323339 or visit http://calderdalestayingsafe.org.uk(external link)
- If you are a woman experiencing domestic abuse, the Women Centre in Calderdale can provide support. Specialist services are also available for children and families. Visit https://womencentre.org.uk/services/domestic-violence-support-team(external link) or call 01422 386500.
- Online support for people experiencing domestic abuse: Calderdale Council – domestic violence and abuse and national government – Coronavirus (COVID-19) and domestic abuse(external link)
- To report a scam, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040
- If you or someone you know needs extra support during the COVID-19 outbreak, please contact the Volunteer Hub at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01422 392890, or complete the form at https://calderdale.gov.uk/v2/request-supportand someone from the Council will contact you to discuss the help available.
- For up-to-date and reliable information about COVID-19, use trusted sources such as:
- Keeping well, physically and mentally, is really important when social distancing. There are lots of things you can do to stay active and still practise social distancing – go to https://active.calderdale.gov.uk/ for some great ideas. Equally, make sure you look after your mental health – visit nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters(external link) for advice.