Conference to safeguard against hidden harms in Harlow

Politics / Thu 23rd Jul 2015 at 11:53am

LAST month saw professionals from across the Safeguarding arena come together for a conference to look at ‘hidden harms’.

The term ‘hidden harms’ covers non-traditional types of abuse; things like honour-based abuse and forced marriage.

The conference titled ‘Hidden Voices, Hidden Harms’, focussed on listening to the voice of the person suffering abuse and making sure their needs are being met. Topics being addressed included: the impact on survivors of child sexual exploitation as they enter adulthood, and the impact that an individual’s mental health has on their family. Workshops looked specifically at the picture here in Essex, and the work being done locally with agencies to address areas of ‘Hidden Harm’.

Keynote speakers included Dr. Aisha K. Gill, Associate Professor in Criminology at University of Roehampton, and Sarbjit Kaur Athwal who, after witnessing honour-based abuse, became the first person within a family connected with an honour killing to go into open court, waiving her anonymity to raise awareness of the tragic death of her sister-in-law.

Simon Hart, Independent Chair of the Essex Safeguarding Adult Board, said: “We must do everything we can to make sure practitioners in Essex are supported in identifying areas of hidden harm and knowing how to act upon any concerns and this year’s conference has helped to do this. Sarbjit’s story gave a powerful message to professionals of what can go wrong when agencies do not understand or recognise cultural differences. By learning from past experiences we can ensure we are best placed to promptly react to any safeguarding issues in an appropriate and timely manner.”

Councillor Dick Madden, Essex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Adults and Children, said: “Multi-agency events like this are essential for ensuring that professionals on the frontline are able to share best practice and to work effectively together to keep adults in Essex safe.”

Councillor Malcolm Maddocks, Essex County Council’s Deputy Cabinet Member for Adults and Children, said: “My thanks go to the Essex Safeguarding Adult Board for organising a thought-provoking conference – the afternoon workshops were particularly topical and gave practitioners tools to go away with to help safeguard our vulnerable people.”

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