ChildHope and our partners have long championed the need for child protection systems that make sense for the people implementing them, and the children benefitting from them. ChildHope’s consultancy work over recent years – supporting organisations to develop, strengthen and implement safeguarding measures – has further cemented in our minds that the best people to support those implementing programmes for the most marginalised children are those with their own experience of working with children in those settings.
The South2South Network offers training and consultancy to NGOs, government bodies and businesses in their regions. Together, these partners offer decades of practical experience on the issue of child protection and safeguarding, with experience ranging from training frontline staff in small, local NGOs to providing support to government institutions and being an expert voice at international conferences on safeguarding.
Steve Crump is the founder of DeafKidz International: a charity dedicated to improving the safety of deaf children around the world. Here, Steve describes how ChildHope has helped DeafKidz develop robust safeguarding and protection content.
DeafKidz is different. We are not hearing people doing the work, as is often the case. We are deaf-led and we get things done. Five years on from an idea at a kitchen table, we’ve grown to be the global leader for the safeguarding and protection of deaf children. When we set up DeafKidz, we wanted to be 100% sure about how we managed abuse, disclosure and more. We referenced existing safeguarding and child protection policies and approaches and then started developing our own. Our aim was to set the benchmark for best practice within deaf settings. And to absolutely ensure this, we sought to get the best possible peer review we could. That’s when we approached ChildHope.
In 2018, we asked them to review our developing safeguarding framework. We wanted to ensure that it would survive scrutiny by other practitioners and the global health, development and humanitarian community. The process was challenging, because we had to justify and rationalise our thinking. But it was also empowering, because it made us realise that we knew quite a lot already, and often it was just about how we presented things.
Working through referral pathways with ChildHope was particularly helpful. Disclosure happens – what do you do? You’ve got a set of principles to follow: don’t judge, reassure, move to a safe setting, get a witness in, take the information down. Then what? You alert the other requisite practitioners: clinical and social welfare and so on. But safeguarding procedures have to survive real life taking over. ChildHope has a lot of experience of this that they were able to share with us.
In a deaf setting, that could mean not being able to find an interpreter who understands the language and semantics of abuse. How do we deal with that? The information has to be right. We can’t afford to get it wrong because of the risk of falsely accusing somebody of an act, or misrepresenting what the child has told us. There is a whole host of issues that we are seeking to address.
ChildHope has helped us to develop specific, dedicated core content around the safeguarding and protection of deaf children. We plan to cascade this through our partners Islamic Relief, the Global Partnership to End Violence against Children, and the World Federation of the Deaf – the UN agency for deaf people, which represents the interests of 70 million deaf people worldwide. Over 10 thousand Child Helpline International counsellors will have access to our content, helping them to respond to the safeguarding and protection needs of deaf children.
We’ve shared our content with other experts in safeguarding and protection and it has stood up to their scrutiny. In fact, we’ve had praise for it from ISPCAN (the International Society for the Prevention of Cruelty and Neglect of Children). This demonstrates the value of ChildHope’s steerage and input – that a leading authority on safeguarding and protection has recognised our work.
I’d recommend ChildHope without hesitation. They are non-judgemental, calm, measured, informed, flexible and experienced.
Elimu Mwangaza recently supported RNLI International and their partner the Panje Project with a safeguarding review in Zanzibar. RNLI’s International Programme Manager, Tom Mecrow, tells us more.
RNLI International was formed in 2011 to look at how the RNLI could contribute to reducing the global problem of drowning. Around 360,000 people drown every year. In low-income countries in Africa and Asia, where people rely on open water for day-to-day activities like fishing, drinking and transportation, it’s a huge problem. Since 2012, we’ve been working with The Panje Project, helping them to run a survival swimming and community education programme on Unguja and Pemba, the two largest islands in Zanzibar.
We’ve trained teachers to tell children about the dangers of water. The teachers use flashcards to share key messages around not entering the water alone and checking for dangerous weather conditions and currents. We have a trained teacher in nearly every school. We’ve also been training swimming teachers to deliver survival swimming skills in the ocean to children aged 7 to 14. When we started in 2012, there weren’t any swimming teachers in Zanzibar so we trained up six swimming teachers. Several of the children who learned to swim with us in 2012 have now grown up and become swimming teachers themselves! Last year 2800 children participated in the programme.
We had existing safeguarding policies, but we needed help with developing processes at a local level to make sure they were appropriate. We didn’t want to send in RNLI safeguarding officers who didn’t have a background of working overseas – we wanted someone who knew the local context. I talked to lots of organisations in Tanzania but couldn’t find the right person to help us. I posted our requirements on a Bond forum and ChildHope responded. From then on it felt like a seamless process. We explained to ChildHope here in the UK exactly what we needed, they explained that to Elimu Mwangaza, and they liaised with the Panje Project.
Michael Reuben from Elimu Mwangaza came to Zanzibar and ran workshops on safeguarding for all the staff. The staff gave very good feedback, saying that the training was very participatory and very well facilitated – they didn’t feel like they were being told stuff, as Michael was very much eliciting the answers. Michael also went through the child safeguarding policy with the staff to make sure it was appropriate and that everyone was happy with it. They also looked at what processes need to be in place to ensure that the policy can be adhered to. It can be tricky running a project spanning different islands – some of our Pemba staff couldn’t attend Michael’s training. But we now have a safeguarding lead within the Panje Project and she has delivered the training to staff on Pemba. It’s great that we’ve established the learning locally. Everyone was happy. This is possibly one of the easiest things I’ve ever worked on!
South2South Network partner, Pendekezo Letu, has been working with the Government representatives in Kenya to deliver training on child protection and safeguarding, legal consultancy and to co-host community events. Their work has helped staff to develop the skills and the systems and processes they need to be able to deliver the Government’s national child protection strategy. We spoke to Joseph Kamithi of the Dandora slum Locational Area Advisory Council in Nairobi to find out more.
Can you start by explaining what a Locational Area Advisory Council is?
The Locational Area Advisory Councils (LAACs) are part of the Government structure of children's departments that deliver child protection strategies. We work directly with the children’s department at the Ministry of Labour and Social protection. The structures come down from the National Council for Children’s Services to the counties, sub-county, and then to the locations. LAACs do child protection activities on the ground and reports back to the Sub-county children officer for proper case data management. They hold community awareness events and talk to parents, teachers and children about child rights and make sure they know where to report abuse. My location is Dandora in the east lands of Nairobi. Dandora is a slum area which has the biggest dump site in East and Central Africa.
How did you first learn about Pendekezo Letu?
Pendekezo Letu were running child protection forums in the schools near the Dandora dump site. There are many problems with child abuse in the communities around the dump sites, so they work with the schools and provide training to teachers on child protection. On one occasion they invited a government official to attend a forum and that is how I came to hear about their work after that I introduced the importance of their work to my colleagues and also to other LAACs.
What was your situation before you worked with Pendekezo Letu?
We were not well equipped to help protect a child. We had knowledge of the situation, but we did not have the skills or systems we needed to help change it. And we did not have a partner to support on our different ventures. We were stuck. For example, we may know that a girl had been sexually abused on the dump site, but we did not know where to refer her or how to help her. We had no lawyer, so we did not know how to help children who were in trouble with the law. Our communities too didn't have supporting structures for children in need of care and protection.
How did the training help you?
We didn’t have networking skills but now we understand the importance of working with others. We are improving our relationship with other stakeholders and we are working with them to improve child protection together. We had no referral system in place but now we have a process to follow if a child needs protection. We also didn’t know how to report cases but now we have a database and we keep a main record of all those cases. We now help around 200 children a month. The communities we live and work in didn't understand the essence of child protection forms of child abuse and reporting channels where after the trainings, community awareness campaigns on child protection were organized and done by every LAAC supported by Pendekezo Letu. Families too were trained, supported and follow-up where child protection structures were weak or never existed.
How many government staff have Pendekezo Letu reached with their training?
Every LAAC is comprised of around 30 people. In my sub county, Njiru, we have eight locations so that is eight LAACs and every single staff member has been on a Pendekezo Letu training course so that is 240 people in my sub country alone. Njiru. But Pendekezo Letu is also working with Kasarani, Starehe, Kamukunji and Langata sub countries which in total have 23 LAACs and all of them have undergone vigorous training on child protection. From all those locations, Pendekezo Letu have trained two police officers from every police station from all the four sub-counties hence creating a good working relationship between the police and the 23 LAACs from diverse locations. Where we were is not where we are today. We are miles ahead because of Pendekezo Letu.