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Reflection on Reflections

Young Woman Intern 2022

We started the session by exploring Abianda’s “word glossary” which examines different terminology professionals often used . We acknowledge that words are perceived differently, especially by different professionals in different sectors, and by young people.

Two words that really stood out to me were exploitation and contextual safeguarding.

Exploitation has always stood out to me because is used so much but not necessarily broken down as it should be. Only recently has it begun to be broken down in ways that relate to young people’s experiences . From this, we went on to explore how it has made me feel in the past and how I had experienced it. You can easily say how someone has been exploited, but without that person understanding it they will never accept it because they don't know what it means or the idea that they are being exploited.

The two ideas that really came up were safety and being exposed. When I was younger it made me feel embarrassed and I was really angry, without knowing what it meant or why. I didn’t have the knowledge and I couldn’t comprehend it because it was just being told to me like that was it.

Whereas now, I know the meaning, and I know everything that comes under it. Its a lack of cause for concern now rather than being angry about the word, although things have changed.

The six ideas that came to mind regarding exploitation were:

  • Not assuming

  • There's not just one meaning. It doesn’t mean you're a bad person, it just means that you are clearly vulnerable.

  • Understanding

  • Exposed - if you’re being exploited you’re definitely being exposed to things you shouldn’t be

  • Vulnerability - being vulnerable not only to professionals but also in your own space

Contextual safeguarding used to give me a big question mark, it's a big word if that makes sense, what comes underneath that? If you’re focusing on everything in one go, how do you break things into sections? How are you processing things? Because it can be so overwhelming.

Assuming that because contextual safeguarding focuses on everything, not just at home, professionals think you would be on the frontline. But well and truly it can be in so many different spaces, in the home down to your personal phone, your mind.

How do you listen to young people's needs?

Building a relationship and trust with that young person. You have to build the trust first to create a relationship - that's when you start to learn things, find more things out and are then more able to do precise risk assessments or create your own risk assessments once there's that trusted relationship.

Even though contextual safeguarding helps professionals break things down in stages, you want it to be broken down so it's not so overwhelming, but at the same time, you don’t want to have to meet 3,4 or 5 different workers to discuss what's happening at home, what's happening at school, what's happening in different areas of life. For example, an Abianda worker works to bring these different sections of a young person's life together so that young people don’t constantly have to repeat themselves.


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