Newcastle Safeguarding Children Board mentoring

January 2012

Forming an accident prevention strategy group

Sue Kirkley is Co-ordinator of Newcastle Safeguarding Children Board (NSCB), which has a strong tradition of partnership working on children’s safety. With support from Making the Link mentors, Sue is creating a multi-agency child accident prevention group which will develop the city’s first child accident prevention strategy and action plan.

Newcastle’s Joint Strategic Needs Assessment, completed in 2007, revealed that the number of children being admitted to hospital with accidental injuries was significantly higher than the national average. In 2006/07, the rate for serious accidental injury resulting in hospital admission among 0-14 year olds was 359.99 per 100,000 population, compared to 325.82 for England as a whole. For under-fives, Newcastle’s admission rate was 116.57 per 100,000 population, compared to 85.21 nationally. Falls and road traffic accidents were the leading causes of emergency admissions.

Building on these insights, the Newcastle Children’s Plan for 2011-14 incorporates a focus on childhood accidents. It also clearly illustrates the link between deprivation and unintentional injuries. In 2008, almost a third of children in Newcastle were living in poverty, while 29.4% were living in families in receipt of out-of-work benefits – a figure well above the national rate of 19.2%.

Where they are now

Setting goals and responsibilities

Overall responsibility for accident prevention sits within Newcastle City Council’s public health team, while one of the objectives in the NSCB business plan for 2011-12 is to strengthen the safeguarding of children from unintentional injuries, specifically by supporting joint working for accident prevention on behalf of the Children’s Trust Board. The goal is to reduce the number of emergency hospital admissions resulting from unintentional injuries among children.

Since 2011, NSCB’s work in this area has been supported by a public health specialist with responsibility for child accident prevention. Sue also maintains strong links with Newcastle’s Child Accident Prevention Forum, a group of voluntary organisations which work together to reduce childhood accidents, with a focus on under-fives.

Advocating Child Safety event

In September 2011 NSCB hosted a workshop for professionals involved in child accident prevention in the north-east of England. The event was based on CAPT’s Advocating Child Safety resource which supports the development of local partnerships for child injury prevention. 

Ian Evans, Head of Education and Engagement at CAPT, says the Newcastle event was full of stimulating discussion. “It was great to have so many people from across the region talking about the prevention of childhood injuries. The main thing that I learnt is that there’s a lots of good work going on, but there could be much more effective co-ordination and stronger links between organisations. This is the key to achieving better results without necessarily having to commit additional resources.”

Aims for the future

Establishing a strategy group

One of Sue’s tasks for early 2012 is to establish a multi-agency group to work together on child accident prevention. “Several years ago we started a similar group, which brought together stakeholders including the police and fire services, transport and road safety, and health visiting teams. The group started out on the track of developing a joint strategy, but over time other priorities took over and the group was put on hold,” explains Sue.

“Many of the original partners are keen to get involved again, so we’ll be working hard to make sure we get all the right people, with the right level of influence, around the table. We’ll also be collaborating with a public health data analyst to identify the data we need to inform our work.”

Sue says that to build strong partnerships, you need to invest time in relationships. “Ideally you should have dedicated staff time for working with partners – you need to have someone who can run with it and who has time to plan meetings, chair them properly and follow up on actions. It’s important to make sure the partners see the benefit of attending the meetings, and also to recognise that everyone’s involvement is adding to an already very full workload.”

Developing a strategy and action plan

The NSCB business plan states the intention to develop an action plan for reducing emergency hospital admissions. Following the first Making the Link mentoring session, Sue has expanded this objective to include the development of a child injury prevention strategy as well. Sue explains: “We decided that we should formalise a strategy amongst the partners, so that everyone is clear about why this work is important and what our ambitions are.

The strategy will be supported by a more detailed plan which will explain the programme of work that we’ll be putting into action.” The strategy will reflect the internal and external issues that are driving child accident prevention in Newcastle and will make clear links with the city’s child poverty strategy.

How mentoring support will help

Guiding the process

The Making the Link mentoring partnership will focus on guiding Newcastle through the process of establishing the multi-agency group and developing the strategy and action plan. Ian Evans describes the role as one of enabling and supporting, saying: “One of the first things we’re helping with is a stakeholder audit, to get a clear picture of who’s doing what, which strands need to be brought together and how the different partners can contribute to one another’s work.”

Sharing resources

Sue says that one of the most valuable aspects of the mentoring relationship will be CAPT’s knowledge of work being done on child accident prevention by boards and authorities in other parts of the country. “We’re entering into an enormous area of work, but with limited resources we need to pin down what’s really important and stay focused on our objectives,” comments Sue.

“Our Making the Link mentors have already provided us with some good examples of child injury prevention strategies as a starting point for ours – this kind of practical sharing of information and resources will be a great help in keeping us focused and working as efficiently as possible.”

Further information For more information about child accident prevention in Newcastle, please contact Sue Kirkley on susan.kirkley@newcastle.gov.uk

Related links

Updated February 2014