If you are worried that a child or young person under the age of 18 might need help and/or is being neglected or hurt, it is important that you share your worries. Many people feel nervous about getting in touch because they do not want to interfere and make things worse, or get it wrong, but it’s better to be wrong than to do nothing. Your action could help protect a child from being harmed.
I am a member of the public who is worried about a child or young person
If you want to talk to a social worker, you can contact the Children’s Services Early Help and Safeguarding Hub (EHASH) at the number below. If you are concerned that by calling you may be put in a difficult position, you can tell us about your concern anonymously. You can also contact
I am a professional worried about a child or young person -
- if you are a professional working with children, talk through your worries with the safeguarding lead in your agency, they will be able to advise you what to do next
- if you are not sure and would like some advice, you can contact the Children’s Services Early Help and Safeguarding Hub (EHASH) at the number listed below and ask for a consultation to talk it through with a social worker
- as a professional (voluntary or paid), you cannot make an anonymous referral. Therefore it is good practice to discuss your worries with the parent/s first and explain why you plan to contact Children’s Social Care. Unless you think that this will place the child at further risk of significant harm as a result of the parents' reaction. In suspected sexual abuse, it is common practice not to let parents know about the referral immediately in case the child is intimidated and cannot provide evidence to the police and social workers
- you will need to complete a referral form within 48 hours of the conversation. You may find it helpful to also use this form as a way of recording your contact with EHASH. On completion of the form, it will be automatically sent to the EHaSH Team and you will receive a unique reference number (via email if you have put your email details into the form)
- the EHASH Team will then contact you within 24 hours to confirm the outcome of your information
How to contact the Early Help and Safeguarding Hub (EHASH)
Opening hoursMonday: 9:00 am-5:00 am
Tuesday: 9:00 am-5:00 am
Wednesday: 9:00 am-5:00 am
Thursday: 9:00 am-5:00 am
Friday: 9:00 am-5:00 am
Tel - 01482 448879
Out of hours - 01482 300 304
|Out of hours and 24 hour at weekends||5pm||9am|
What might happen if I speak with Children's Social Care?
A senior social worker in the EHASH will review the information received, check the records and if necessary make some additional enquiries. This will be done within one working day and a decision will be made about the level of safety and what service would best help and protect the child.
In most circumstances, the social worker will contact the family to talk through the worries, find out more about what happened, give the family an opportunity to share their views and enable the social worker to explain what will happen next. One of the following three things will happen -
- if the EHASH decides the child is not at risk of serious harm, but the child and family could benefit from some help. The family or professional making the contact may be given advice and signposted to a local service for help. If the criteria are met, the family may be directed to an Early Help Social Worker.
- if the child appears to be ‘in need’ and requires support services to prevent their health and development being impaired, the family will be directed to the Children’s Social Care. An assessment social worker will be allocated, who will meet with the family and carry out a child and family assessment. The purpose of the assessment is to explore what’s going well, what people are worried about and decide what support the child and family require. If the family require support, they will be offered support through a ‘Child in Need Support Plan’, family members and key professionals will be invited to meet with a family support social worker to plan what the child needs and what everyone will do to support the family.
- if the child is believed to have suffered significant harm, or be at serious risk of harm a child protection strategy meeting will be held and a social worker will be allocated to carry out a child protection enquiry. If a crime has been committed, the police will also be involved. If the enquiry finds that the child remains at risk of harm, there will be a Child Protection Conference, a social worker will be allocated and a Child Protection Safety Plan will be developed to protect the child
For more information about these processes see our online procedures children and families.
Everyone working the Early Help and Safeguarding Hub tries to keep children with their families as long as that is a safe place for them to be and most children remain with their families. Children are only removed from their parent’s care if the Local Authority thinks the child is in immediate danger and/or the child protection safety plan is not working and there is no other safe option. The social worker will discuss each step of this process with the family and encourage them to seek legal advice.
For a child to be removed from their parent/s care the Local Authority has to either get permission from the parent or seek a legal order from a family proceedings court. When this happens it means the child becomes ‘Looked After’, the Local Authority shares parental responsibility with parent/s and the child is allocated a social worker and independent reviewing officer. The social worker will develop a care plan with the child and family, to look at the whether the child can return home safely in the future, or whether another carer in the family can be found to look after the child. If no family or friends can care for the child safely, the Local Authority will seek alternatives such as a foster carer.