University plays key role in safeguarding Bristol’s children
8 June 2010
Successful partnership working between the University and Bristol City Council has been cited as a contributing factor in a recent report by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission that praises services in Bristol for safeguarding children, and for children in care.
The independent report, published in May, rated services in Bristol to keep children safe, and for children in care, as ‘good’. The inspection process was introduced in June last year and Bristol is the first large city in England and Wales to receive the good rating.
The inspection examined the effectiveness of services including health, schools, the police and the voluntary sector in protecting vulnerable children and helping them to have a good start in life.
Among other things, the report highlights partnership working at both the strategic and operational level, in particular the relationship between the statutory services and local higher education academic institutions. It acknowledges how representatives from the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England ‘bring benefit to the partnership through providing up-to-date advice, guidance on best practice and research projects’. Professors David Berridge and Elaine Farmer and Dr Danielle Turney from the School for Policy Studies at the University of Bristol all sit on council committees and provide constructive challenges to existing policy.
As an example of how research can have a positive influence on policy, the report cites a University of Bristol project to raise the profile of domestic abuse as a safeguarding issue through specific training to 20 general practitioner practices across the city. This had a significant impact in raising safeguarding awareness and resulted in an increase of appropriate referrals from general practitioners to the Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference, which is part of a co-ordinated community response to domestic abuse.
David Berridge, Professor of Child and Family Welfare, said: ‘As well as working internationally, we have particular obligations to the city of Bristol and its children. We have a very good working relationship with Bristol City Council to mutual benefit. We are pleased that our expertise and child welfare research have been judged to make a positive contribution to promoting the welfare of vulnerable children in Bristol and in helping to keep them safe.’
Annie Hudson, Director for Children, Young People and Skills at Bristol City Council, said: ‘The council values its excellent collaboration with Bristol University and the University of the West of England, and the very tangible “added value” this brings. University colleagues support us in many different ways to help make local policy and practice evidence-based and enhance the lives of children, young people and families. The inspectors were hugely impressed by the quality of these relationships, and could see the tangible benefits for Bristol’s children, young people and families.’
More information on the report’s findings is available on the council’s website.