VERU in View - November

Good morning and thank you for taking the time to read this month’s VERU in View. This is a truly bumper edition packed full of updates from a local and national perspective about some fantastic work by both the VERU and our partners when it comes to tackling violence and exploitation here in Bedfordshire.

This month’s newsletter could only really start in one place though, specifically the National Black Police Association (NBPA) conference here in Luton last month. I was humbled to feature on the main Q&A panel at the conference alongside some fiercely strong and impressive leaders from the world of policing. Yet I was also honoured to share the stage with our own fierce, strong female leaders from the VERU, with me, our exploitation lead Lisa Robinson and our YIS team coordinator Tasha Case all delivering a workshop on the VERU’s work to guests from policing and beyond from across the country.

The feedback we have had has been overwhelmingly positive. The NBPA conference was all about promoting diversity and inclusion, especially for black women. I am enormously proud to say that we walk the walk as well as talking the talk in this area here at the VERU, with diversity and cultural competency at the heart of my vision for the unit. It was heartening to see such positivity around these areas at the conference, and I will be working with senior leaders from policing in Bedfordshire to make sure we build on this momentum moving forward to achieve real and lasting change.

I am also pleased to have represented the VERU at some important national events over recent weeks. I was honoured to be invited to the University of Edinburgh Business School for a course in strategy in practice, specifically the work of the original violence reduction unit in Scotland. I was really pleased to give that insight into our approach here in Bedfordshire and what we had drawn from that inspirational Scottish model which has really set the benchmark for all VRUs across the country.

This week has seen another major milestone in our national VRU journey with the rollout of verified ‘blue tick’ Twitter accounts for all the units across the country. This has been organised by the inspiring Hope Collective, an initiative built on the work of the Damilola Taylor Trust and linked to the expanding VRU network across the UK. 

Our initial pilot year has seen five ‘hackathons’ take place in association with numerous other bodies including UK Youth and NCS. Our aim is to provide a more positive outlook in respect of the youth of the UK and ‘change the narrative’ about them, which is often built around negative stereotypes. This is exactly the sort of programme I am so keen on the VERU supporting and I am thrilled that we are playing such a leading role in the collective.

Elsewhere, the hard working VERU team continue to achieve great things in their respective areas. The YIS team has been carrying out inputs at education provisions across the county – recently being joined by Claire Byrne, our new Fearless worker for Bedfordshire who will work really closely alongside the YIS team and promote the incredibly valuable role Fearless’ anonymous reporting and more general information services can provide specifically to young people. Please get in touch through our website if you would like to hear more about Claire’s role.

Elsewhere, Roseann Taylor from our YIS team appeared on ITV Anglia as part of a feature on a week of action by police to tackle knife crime, which also saw DCI Katie Dounias from Bedfordshire Police interviewed on Inspire FM. It is superb to see all of this effort to raise awareness, which also included a youth takeover on the Bedfordshire Police social media channels, including promoting our VERU Youth Voices podcasts. You can view all of these podcasts on our YouTube channel.

Anti-bullying week last week also gave us an opportunity to put out a strong stance against bullying, with YIS team coordinator Tasha leading the way on our social media channels.

Finally, our digital presence is now more comprehensive than ever. Our YIS team pages have been updated to provide an easy online form for our partners to submit both young people and wider families forward as a potential referral for the YIS team.

Our VERU Education page has been set up complete with lesson plans as well as a dedicated booking form to request a YIS team session at your establishment, while the VERU Frontline page is now packed with helpful training documents and videos to educate frontline professionals about exploitation, how to spot the signs and then respond.

All of this is fantastic work, with wider VERU projects also enjoying success over recent times. I am enormously proud of all we continue to achieve, and I really appreciate everybody’s support.

Kimberley Lamb

Head of the VERU

Veru in view

Partner successes

Wider partnership projects led and supported by the VERU have also been happening across the county recently. Our exploitation lead Lisa Robinson organised and hosted our Pan Beds Multi Agency Violence and Exploitation briefing sessions regarding our response to child exploitation here in Bedfordshire.

The aim of the sessions was for delegates to understand the multi-agency response to child exploitation in Bedfordshire, the tools to utilise when working with children and the response in Bedfordshire Police and the local authorities, to ensure there is a consistent response across the county.

The link with serious and organised crime was also highlighted, as well as the Home Office child exploitation disruption toolkit and the Pan Beds Multi Agency Information Sharing form. It is particularly heartening to see this consistency coming to the fore: in Central Bedfordshire Council for example, the number of multi-agency forms submitted rose from 71 in August to 108 in September, while use of our child exploitation toolkit increased from 22 between May and July up to 42 between August and October. Top job everyone 😊

More than 75 practitioners attended the briefings with keynote speakers Helen Matthews and Andy Thompson from CYP First, Pete Gomm from Bedfordshire Police’s CSE Disruption team and its Makesafe coordinator, Acting DI Liz Spurling from the police’s serious and organised crime team and Jonathon Savage from The Independent Child Trafficking Guardianship Service. A big thank you to all who were involved!

We have been leading on planning meetings with the National Working Group Exploitation Response Unit on launching the ‘Safe to Play’ campaign across the county, with Bedfordshire one of only a handful of places selected to launch the initiative. The ‘Safe to Play’ campaign provides local sport and physical activity clubs and coaches with free pocket-sized cards to distribute to their members, players, parents and guardians with information about the signs of abuse and importantly, how to report concerns. Watch this space for more information about the launch.

This will be the latest project supported by the partnership Bedfordshire Against Violence and Exploitation (BAVEX) campaign, which continues to go from strength to strength. The flagship campaign video has recently been nominated for a prestigious EVCOM award and should find out this week whether it has won in its category. Best of luck! But the campaign is also evolving to include partnership training opportunities through this training video led by DCI Aaron Kiff, as well as supporting the exciting Tree project being rolled out across the county.

Messages from or partners


Safeguarding Bedfordshire are pleased to highlight a selection of upcoming safeguarding and domestic abuse themed events…

Please CLICK HERE to see their full training calendar for 2021-22.

Raising Awareness of the Impact of Parental Conflict (Central & Luton) *FREE* Various dates/ times available This new FREE interactive workshop is aimed at those working or volunteering in Central Bedfordshire or Luton with parents/ carers or families (including expectant parents and those co-parenting but not in a relationship).

‘Mind Your Language’ *FREE* Only 2 dates remaining! This webinar enables us to discuss victim-blaming language and how we can accurately and sensitively record and report on victim experiences. The aim of this webinar is to share practice between agencies and to explore ways in which we can develop the language we use.

A New Approach to Support People who Hoard *FREE* Thursday 2nd December Following the death of a local resident, Bedford Borough, Central Bedfordshire & Luton Safeguarding Adult Boards, in partnership with Bedfordshire Fire & Rescue invite you to join this free webinar and learn about the new multi-agency approach; including guidance, pathways and personalised hoarding panel.

Working with Disclosures of Non-Recent Sexual Abuse 25th & 26th November (1-4pm) This brand new two part seminar, delivered by sexualised trauma specialist, Zoe Lodrick, will offer an insight in to working with disclosures of non-recent sexual abuse; how to respond and support the individual. £75 per place- for funding and cancellation info please see T&C’s.

Effective Child Protection Conferences 30th November (9.30am-12.30pm) is a half day workshop to develop your understanding of the functions and processes of child protection conferences, the roles and responsibilities of those who attend them, and how to contribute effectively. It is suited to practitioners and managers in voluntary, independent and statutory agencies who work predominantly with children, young people and/or their parents/carers who may be part of the child protection system. £37.50 per place- for funding and cancellation info please see T&C’s.

Working in Core Groups 30th November (1.30- 4.30pm) This a half day workshop is aimed at members of staff from all disciplines who have experience of being a member of a core group. The session provides an opportunity to reflect on the purpose of core groups, to clarify what makes them effective and to extend knowledge and skills in working within a core group. £37.50 per place- for funding and cancellation info please see T&C’s.

Child Sexual Exploitation- Practice Development  Thursday 2nd December (9.30am-4pm) This workshop will provide experienced practitioners with the opportunity to further explore Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) and its impact. You will explore disruption methods and using a contextual safeguarding model in a multi-agency training environment. £75 per place- for funding and cancellation info please see T&C’s.

Bitesize session: The Dark Web *FREE* Thursday 10th December (12.15-1.15pm) Safeguarding Bedfordshire have free places available on this 1hr webinar. Steve Gorman (Bedfordshire Police) will demonstrate the Dark Web, explain how it’s accessed and used and answer questions you may have.

Contextual Safeguarding 26th January (9.30am-12.30pm) This training course will support practitioners to develop their understanding of contextual safeguarding and its application in practice. £37.50 per place- for funding and cancellation info please see T&C’s.

Working Together to Safeguard Adults at Risk Thursday 27th January (9.30am-4pm) Working Together to Safeguard Adults at Risk will support professionals to build upon their current safeguarding practice, enabling them to be clear about what is required of them individually and how they need to work together to keep adults at risk safe. It will build the concept of collaborative working, which allows professionals from all disciplines and agencies to support each other to fulfil their responsibilities. £75 per place- for funding and cancellation info please see T&C’s

Working Together to Safeguard Children Availability from February. This one day course supports professionals from a range of agencies to build upon their current safeguarding practice, enabling them to be clear about what is required of them individually and how they need to work together to keep children safe. It builds on the concept of collaborative working, allowing professionals from all disciplines and agencies to support each other to fulfil their responsibilities to improve the lives of children and young people. This course provides the multi-agency aspect of training required by Designated Safeguarding Leads and Deputy Leads. It is also beneficial to school Safeguarding Governors. £75 per place- for funding and cancellation info please see T&C’s. (Please get in touch if you require DSL role specific training- this is a separate course.)

For more information visit the Safeguarding Bedfordshire Training website.

Traineeships with Wates

Construction company Wates has traineeship opportunities available for 16 to 24 year olds in Bedfordshire.

For more information email or call 0203 457 7511.

Independent Child Trafficking Guardianship Service

Barnardo’s now runs a specialist Independent Child Trafficking Guardianship Service (ICTGS) service for trafficked children here in Bedfordshire.

The service aims to:

  • build trusting relationships with trafficked children to help them build a positive future
  • help children navigate the criminal justice, immigration and social care systems
  • give practical support, such as help with housing, medical needs and education
  • give emotional and psychological support
  • train professionals working with children so they can spot the signs of trafficking and know how to support trafficked children

Visit the Barnardo’s website for more information.

ChatHealth and Parentline

Are you aware of these two text messaging services for parents and young people?

Parentline: for parents and carers of those aged 0-19 TEXT 07507 331456

Parentline offers advice and support on a range of issues such as weaning, sleep and emotional health. You can also find out how to access other local services.

For more information please visit: or watch their short animation:

ChatHealth: for young people aged 11-19 TEXT 07507 331450

ChatHealth is a similar service for young people to confidentially ask for help about a range of issues or make an appointment with a school nurse. Young people can also find out how to access other local services including emotional support or sexual health services.

For more information please visit: or watch their short animation:

Parentline and ChatHealth are available Monday to Friday from 9am to 4.30pm. Parents, carers and young people can send a text anonymously to a dedicated number from any type of mobile phone.

Challenging conversations in the classroom

There are still some spaces available on Luton Council’s Creating Critical Thinkers Extremism and Radicalisation training.  As the session is online they are able to offer more than one space per setting so feel free to share with colleagues.

The session is on Tuesday 7 December 1.30pm to 3.30pm and will;

  • Explore why it is important to open up conversations about controversial issues with young people
  • Look at the statutory duties on schools with regards to this work
  • Impart techniques to support educators to undertake conversations with young people about controversial issues
  • Explore how to effectively challenge prejudice and stereotypes to create positive change

Please register on the Eventbrite link for more info and joining details.

Key reminders

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