Support services for children and families in Plymouth are set for a boost thanks to a new partnership between a national charity and local child safeguarding agencies.
In an effort to provide parents and the wider community with the best possible early help, advice and signposting on child welfare concerns, the NSPCC Helpline is being given a new launch in the city – with the backing of Plymouth Safeguarding Children Board.
As an alternative contact to Plymouth City Council, Police and Health teams, NSPCC Helpline counsellors are offering an independent first line of contact for any adult with worries about a child, but who may otherwise be unsure where to turn. People can remain anonymous if they wish.
The counsellors, available 24/7 via phone and online, now have access to a wealth of local information, allowing a greater level of Plymouth-focused signposting than ever before.
Julie Campbell, NSPCC local campaigns manager in Plymouth, said: “Being a parent isn’t always easy and all parents struggle from time to time. Many parents don’t realise that they can contact our Helpline for friendly advice and support, before things get out of hand and children are put at risk.
“Where there are concerns about a child’s safety or well-being, most people find the decision to report these concerns a difficult one. They worry about overreacting or being wrong, and may question whether they have strong enough evidence, or if they have misread the signs of abuse or misunderstood a situation.
“They may also be concerned about the personal repercussions if they know the family involved. Some people don’t report suspected abuse because they think it might just be a one off. But even if that is the case, every child deserves to be protected – it is better to be safe than sorry. We think in terms of a jigsaw – every single piece of information, no matter how small, is important to keep children safe. It may be nothing, but it could be something.”
The NSPCC Helpline is being launched at a special event in Plymouth’s Guildhall on Tuesday, January 31, with an initial focus on the signs of child neglect –the ongoing failure to meet a child’s basic needs, and the most common form of child abuse across the UK.
Councillor Terri Beer, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, added: “We all have a role to play in protecting children and young people from child abuse and neglect. However, we know that some people don’t want to talk directly to the Council or the police and would rather get some independent advice.
“Equally we know that for some parents could be struggling and want to ask for some help or advice, but don’t want to contact the Council. We’re hoping that by promoting and supporting the NSPCC’s Helpline in Plymouth, we will be able to help children and families earlier before problems escalate.”
The NSPCC Helpline will be complimented by services already provided by Plymouth City Council, NHS NEW Devon CCG and Devon and Cornwall Police, but will give members of the public an independent alternative to use when deciding who to talk to about children welfare concerns.
A Neglect Matters poster campaign will accompany the Helpline project, which is set to run for an initial six months.
Any adult worried about the welfare of a child, or seeking advice on any concern at all, can call the NSPCC’s Helpline on 0808 800 5000, text 88858, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the NSPCC website at www.nspcc.org.uk/neglect.
If a child is in immediate danger, please call 999.