Today was the day we had to gather all our fieldwork research and present it to Camden's Children's Safeguarding Board.
Billie, Dee and I were nervous to say the least. Billie and Dee didn't feel we had enough results while I told them that no results were a result in itself.
We had to find out what people thought of safeguarding services in their communities. That was our remit.
"What is safeguarding?" we asked parents at a drop in.
"Never heard of it."
"What safeguarding services do you use?"
"Don't know what you mean."
We'd leave with little information on the diagrams we drew for them to fill in, Dee wanting to make up the answers and me arguing "No, that's valid. No-one knows, why don't they know?"
By Saturday when we went to a children's soft play arena, we'd altered our approach.
"Where do you go for information regarding services in your community designed for keeping people safe?"
Few said social services, many said police.
"What do you think about them?"
Reams of answers.
Today we presented the whole lot.
We were given an hour in which we could organise our thoughts which was a good thing as yesterday I couldn't meet Dee due to my bicycle puncture and her need to take her young charge home for lunch (Dee is a childminder).
What was our plan?
What was our timeline?
What tools did we use?
What roles did we take?
What went well?
What went wrong?
What did we find out?
The first group went up. "We are the Happy Group"
Billie and Dee looked at me. I whispered: "Fuck." We hadn't thought of one.
Happy Group's presentation was clearly set out with diagrams outlining where they had been, how many people they spoke to, who used which tool, and how they evaluated the answers.
On large sheets of paper lists were written detailing what went wrong, what was successful, and another large sheet outlined their results in big, bold writing.
We had drawn a map of where we went, a timeline of when we went there and drew a spider diagram of the strengths and weaknesses of our approach. So far so good. We'd left no time to list our results so all we had was the scrawl I'd written last night in light blue ink on a sheet of A4. Better than nothing I guess.
"No-one knew what safeguarding was," said Happy Group.
"See," I nudged Billie. "It's ok."
Happy Group had gathered alot of information from the Somali Group and the Faith Group they had facilitated. There wasn't time to hear what those results were but hopefully we'll see them later.
We were up next. "What shall we call ourselves?" asked Dee.
"Wing It Group," I said.
"Eh?" they chorused.
"Nutty Group" said Dee, and that was that.
We were up.
Dee began to describe our map and then began to giggle. This set me off and within seconds there we both were, infront of our 'examiners', unable to stop laughing, and trying to was futile. Billie had no choice but to take control (We did work exceptionally well as a team, I have to say). Pretty soon Dee and I had pulled ourselves together and the three of us were talking one on top of the other as we explained our experiences. Comparitive to the Happy Group, we were Nutty indeed.
I pointed out that in the drop in no parents mentioned the police but in the soft play arena they all did. The degree of negativity towards them were largely based on where people lived and fear of the police was largely based on 'class'. It was also impossible to say all parents felt the same way because there was such a tremendous mix. Some had no English, others were childcare professionals. All this had to be taken into account.
"Did no-one mention Baby P?" asked one of the examiners.
"No. We didn't elicit that information from them and by and large they answered the questions according to their own children and their own children's needs - 'my child is safe because I take him to this drop in'."
The third group didn't give themselves a name. They'd encountered lots of barriers to their fieldwork with drop in managers not allowing them access to interview the parents. Minnie had done her research with her baby group. They passed round their results most of which gave a view of social services. Trust gets families talking about social services, in my experience. There's a real stigma attached to it.
So many people wanted access to more information about safeguarding services.
It was good fun. It was interesting. It was over! For now.... In May we reconvene to discuss what questions we can ask service providers given the information we now have. The police and social services will be top of the list I imagine.
Did you know, according to United Nations research, the UK has one of the lowest scores for safeguarding children?
Time that changed don't you think?