New Children’s Safeguarding Head Visits Scilly

childrens services signThe man responsible for ensuring children in Scilly are adequately protected says he’s encouraged by what he’s seen on the islands.

But John Clements, the new Chairman of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Safeguarding Children Board, says mainland workers need to spend more time here understanding our unique culture.

John, a former high ranking police officer, took up his role in June. The board is made up of various organisations involved in caring for children, such as health and social care agencies, the police and education representatives.

He says his role is to provide an independent voice for youngsters and ensure the different services are doing their jobs properly and effectively.

That’s not just the obvious protection of children from abuse and neglect, he says, but also a wider role to ensure children can reach their full potential.

John made his first official visit to Scilly on Friday, to meet with police, council officers and social workers. He also spent time talking to the islands’ Youth Member of Parliament, Zoe Jenkins.

He says there are “no alarm bells ringing” and everyone involved in protecting children here has a clear focus to intervene early, before potential problems can escalate.

But he says the unique, close-knit community here can present both opportunities and challenges.

John feels people have a much greater understanding of individual children and know when things might be going wrong. But he says that closeness might make people more reluctant to come forward, because they’re fearful of what might happen.

John says from his experience, the majority of people wouldn’t hesitate to report their worries about a child.

He says he also needs to get a feel for how well children and families who do have problems are being supported here.

John says Scilly’s isolation could be an issue and has identified some services, like emotional support for distressed youngsters, and training in parenting skills, that need to be provided locally rather than from Cornwall.

John says some mainland workers don’t always understand the culture of the islands and they need to spend time here to understand the environment.

In the end, he says, it’s about creating a service that suits the local children on the islands.