Written by Tim MacIntyre
Recently there was a political debate over the actions of some charities who give tents to people who are homeless. Putting aside whether this is right or wrong, it raises the question – what puts some people at greater risk and how do we safeguard those people from those risks?
Many factors influence the level of risk; they include whether someone is able to respond to issues effectively, whether they have any care and support needs and whether they are experiencing abuse. These are the criteria in law which trigger a safeguarding concern.
Types of abuse
We can all meet the above criteria. Remember the last time you had a bad cold or the flu. Perhaps you spent the time lying on the sofa, unable to do anything, completely dependent on others. In these circumstances, if someone did something you didn’t like – whether physical, emotional, neglectful, or sexual – you would rightly feel angered that your human rights had been violated.
An act against you might be more complicated though. It could be something more controlling or manipulative. Evidence shows that abuse is more likely to be carried out by someone a person knows.
It is easy to say if you see something wrong you need to report it. But statistics show that safeguarding concerns are under reported and there are many reasons for this. Imagine you were on a bus and you saw a someone slap a child, what would you think and do?
Safeguarding people with learning disabilities
At LDN London, we are committed to supporting positive risk taking for people with learning disabilities, who are often more at risk of being exploited and the victims of abuse. We train staff to spot the signs of abuse and conduct in-depth audits on our services to make sure people we support are safe and healthy.
We live in a time where the victims of abuse can sometimes be blamed: whether that’s people trying to escape a country to get a better life for themselves, people living in tents on our streets or people having to rely on charities to feed their families.
In safeguarding week, we should reflect on the human rights of those ‘victims’ and not see them as the problem. Instead, we should focus on the risks they face and how we, as a community, can reduce those risks. People with learning disabilities, like everyone else, should be able to achieve their goals, take risks and have their human rights ensured.
It is not always about more resources but is always about how we see a situation. It is about awareness of the sometimes-subtle signs of abuse or manipulation. Are we truly able to reflect on how we would feel if it was us?
In safeguarding week, we are not just highlighting safeguarding for people with learning disabilities, rather safeguarding for all. As without this we will never truly have equity for those who are at the greatest risk in our society.
Read LDN London’s Safeguarding policy for adults at risk here.
What should I do if I think someone is at risk?
With safeguarding concerns under reported, it’s always crucial that if you have a concern, you raise it. This can be with a senior professional involved in someone’s support or an external party like the Care Quality Commission, the social work team, or the police.
The sooner you raise it, the earlier enquires can be made and, if abuse is found, it can be stopped.
LDN London is committed to safeguarding
We believe it’s crucial for individuals with learning disabilities to have their voices heard. We work to make safeguarding resources accessible to everyone. People with learning disabilities have a right to live without abuse, neglect, or discrimination and to know when they’re being treated poorly and who to talk to can help stop any abuse.
LDN London supports people who cannot protect themselves from abuse. We provide training, guidance, and support to all our staff so they can recognise the indicators of abuse and respond to any worries or concerns that they have about someone they support.