Help keep vulnerable children safe

The Department of Health and NSPCC Northern Ireland have joined forces to encourage members of the public to take action to keep vulnerable children and young people safe as lockdown continues.

Recent child protection figures show a marked reduction in child protection referrals over the current lockdown period, meaning that vulnerable children who should be brought to the attention of the child protection system in Northern Ireland may not currently be being identified.

NSPCC is making its 15 minute Safeguarding Awareness Training available online for workers with access to people’s homes, to help spot and report possible child abuse and neglect.

Reaching children in need of protection continues to be extremely challenging when schools remain closed to most pupils and access to vital social supports and protective services is limited. This has resulted in the isolation of vulnerable children and their families and is likely to have put some children at greater risk of abuse and neglect.

As the lockdown continues, NSPCC Northern Ireland and the Department of Health for Northern Ireland are appealing to:

  • Parents and carers in the community to seek help if they need support by contacting local safeguarding and family support services, or the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000 or
  • Anyone with a concern about a child or a young person to share their concerns, without delay, by contacting the local Health and Social Care Trust, the NSPCC and in case of emergencies, the PSNI on 999 or 101
  • Children who have concerns for themselves or other children and young people to contact Childline on 0800 1111 or

Workers who regularly go into people’s homes, such as postal workers, gas engineers, taxi drivers, tradespeople and delivery drivers, are being encouraged by the campaign to take up free safeguarding training to help protect children from abuse and neglect during the current lockdown.  The Safeguarding Awareness Training can be accessed free of charge until 31  March, 2021.

Minister for Health for Northern Ireland, Mr Robin Swann, MLA, said: “It is essential that we all play a part in helping to keep children and young people safe. Parents and carers should come forward, without delay, to seek help if they need support and anyone with a concern for the safety of a child or young person should contact the relevant authorities, including social services or the NSPCC’s helpline. Childline is there for any child or young person with a concern for themselves or the safety of another child. Workers visiting people’s homes during the pandemic have the unique opportunity to see or hear things that others may not. Therefore, it is important that they feel confident in knowing what to do if they are concerned about a child.”

Contact details for these services are available on all health and social care trust websites or at NI Direct.

The NSPCC helpline is also available Monday to Friday 8am – 10pm or 9am – 6pm at the weekends. Children can call Childline on 0800 11 11 from 7.30am to 3.30 am from Monday to Friday or 9am to 3.30am on weekends. Or they can get in touch via

Help is also available at

8th March 2021

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