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Brook’s adaptation to adult safeguarding through all-age services

This Safeguarding Adults Week we want to raise awareness of the importance of safeguarding, how intrinsic it is at Brook and how well-equipped all our staff are to respond to contemporary and emerging safeguarding challenges. Here, Chris Wilkins, Brook’s Designated Safeguarding Lead, talks about how Brook’s commitment to safeguarding has adapted to our all-age services. 

Brook has a long history and established reputation for providing high quality sexual and reproductive health services, both from a clinical and educational perspective. For years, Brook has been relentless in its efforts to ensure that young people receive the services they need and that they are empowered and cared for with sensitivity, diligence and compassion.  

Safeguarding has always been central to this. We fully recognise that whilst we support our young people with rights-based and needs-led provision, at times they require protection from a range of harms in whatever form they take.  

Here at Brook, safeguarding is taken seriously, with our teams steadfast in their commitment to keeping people and communities safe. Brook is well known for our approach to safeguarding, including influencing how safeguarding is enhanced and practised externally with our nationally recognised Spotting the Signs and Traffic Light tools as examples of this. 

As we develop our services, our approach to safeguarding has to evolve.  

We take pride in how we achieve this: always with a strong sense of commitment and with the people we support at the heart of all endeavours. We understand that people are wonderfully unique, as are their needs, circumstances, and the conditions and climate in which they live.  

We have a proven track record in providing high quality care, support and safeguarding for young people. Using that expertise, we have in recent years expanded our offer into all-age sexual and reproductive health service provisions. 

During 2019, we launched our first all-age service in Cornwall, followed by Southend-on-Sea and Blackburn. We also launched health and PrEP promotion contracts for vulnerable groups of adults across London.  

A number of factors drove this expansion. We believe that, like young people, adults require and would benefit from our person-centred approach, blending high-quality healthcare, sound pedagogical interventions and effective safeguarding.  Moreover, taking a life course approach opens opportunities for us to walk alongside people who access our services at various  stages of their lives and during times of need. This approach enhances the quality and experience of Brook’s provision, including how people are safeguarded. This is further captured in Brook’s Life Course Approach to Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Position Statement. 

The expansion into all-age services has been an advantageous and positive venture.  Unsurprisingly, a vast amount of consideration, planning, rigour and collaboration has underpinned this journey to ensure this broadened population receive quality services.  

We have adapted and risen to challenges that have inevitably presented themselves along the way. 

From a safeguarding perspective, whilst the core principles of effective practice remain unchanged, there have been some conceptual and practical alterations that our teams have needed to adjust to.  

A greater presence in the provision of all-age services means that our teams are required to meet a wider spectrum of people at differing stages of their lives, often with a range of needs, circumstances and risks. These can feel quite different for an organisation who has been more accustomed to the safeguarding of young people.  

Whilst adults, like young people, also at times need protection, the legislation, policy and practice principles for young people and adults do have some key variance.  

Quite rightly, being an adult by nature comes with much greater levels of independence and autonomy.  

It can be a challenge to balance the need to intervene alongside choice, control and self-determination which is inherent with the adult experience.  

On occasions, we have to accept a level of risk or decision making that would not occur in the context of safeguarding children and young people. This can have an emotional impact and provoke anxiety for our professionals who genuinely care about people’s welfare and their best interests.  

Additionally, our professionals must now have extensive awareness and robust knowledge of a far-reaching breadth of topics, themes and legislation pertinent to both child and adult safeguarding. This means learning increased content so that our professional skills, abilities, and competence are grounded with the comprehensive insights we need to support and safeguard effectively. 

Whilst these challenges exist, our buoyant, talented and dedicated professionals throughout Brook always hold the people we support front and centre.  

Policy, procedure and training have been expanded to reflect our advancement into the adult space, harnessing the skills and qualities which have always been present in our work with young people.  

As with any development or evolution, it has led to reflection, creativity, and innovation. The expansion into all-age provisions has promoted this further including new resources and tools and developing how services are offered and accessed. The added value for what Brook is and is still yet to become is exciting and offers a range of opportunities and growth. This has and always will include how we safeguard.   


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