Charity pilots voluntary child protection work

Unqualified volunteers from local communities in London and the
north east are to be trained to help social services monitor
children at risk of abuse, writes Katie

Leading volunteer organisation Community Service Volunteers is
to begin the project in April, in a bid to reduce the number of
child abuse cases.

The intention is for volunteers to visit children on the child
protection register as often as needed – possibly daily – and
offer support to the family. The volunteers will be supervised by
social workers to help them to spot problems before they get out of

Two unnamed local authorities, one in London and one in the
north east, have agreed to participate in ‘CSV for Children’. It
follows recommendations put forward by children’s charity NCH
last week for community volunteers to work alongside child
protection professionals.

The three and a half year project reflects similar schemes in
America, some of which have reported a 24 per cent decrease in
child abuse among participating families.

Around 60 volunteers are expected to be recruited by targeting
local media and volunteer bureaux. All will be vetted by the
Criminal Records Bureau, and undergo more than 12 hours of training
over a six week period to test their commitment.

Elisabeth Hoodless, executive director of CSV, said that
children are dying despite being on the child protection

“Invariably neighbours and citizens have reported concerns, but
hard pressed professionals are too often over stretched. We are
inviting local people to invest their time and care to support
families and help protect children at risk on a daily basis,” she

But Ann Frewin, principal policy officer at children’s
charity Barnardo’s, queried how much time and resources would
actually be saved, and said that the responsibility burden was
likely to make some volunteers feel anxious.

“The volunteers would have to be very carefully supervised. It
would take some investment of social workers’ time,” she

She added that the families of the children involved would need
to be carefully assessed to ensure the physical safety of

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