Over the last 6 months, a review of the SARC Paediatric Pathway has been undertaken following recommendations from safeguarding reviews and direct feedback from practitioners. Attached is the new guidance, which is also available on the Safeguarding Partnership Board website (Policy Document for the referral of Child and Young Persons to the Sexual Assault Referral Centre | Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Safeguarding Partnership Board (safeguardingcambspeterborough.org.uk)) is aimed at maximising opportunities for children and young people across the county to receive the holistic support the SARC offers. The reviews have highlighted missed opportunities due to a lack of awareness of the services available and myths around what the experiences for young people are at the SARC.
The pathway has been signed off at executive level within the Safeguarding Board.
The keynotes (contained on page 1) are aimed at overcoming myths about the SARC which then influence decisions made by professionals resulting in missed opportunities for wrap around support and onward sign-posting:
- A disclosure is not required for a Child Sexual Abuse Medical around suspected Sexual Abuse or Exploitation to take place.
- The process begins at the point of a referral to the Police (MASH) and/or Children’s Social Care who will identify cases and Mountain Healthcare should be invited to all Sexual Abuse or Exploitation strategy meetings to assist the multi-agency decision-making.
- Non acute Child Sexual Abuse Medicals are conducted in a child and young person friendly way and professionals should avoid making assumptions on procedures in their decision-making.
- Child Sexual Abuse Medicals are more than a physical examination, they assess the emotional needs of the child and ensure wrap around services support the child or young person beyond what may be available to Police and Social Care.
Professionals should ensure all suspected cases of child sexual abuse or child sexual exploitation are referred via their approved pathways so Children’s Social Care and the wider MASH agencies can assess and document decisions against the guidance within the attached document. There is a flowchart on page 10 which provides a helpful guide on the overall process.
You may have seen in the VAWG newsletter that the SARC has arranged an open day. Due to the popularity of this opportunity, it is now fully booked but further dates will be arranged and circulated once organised.
The SARC regularly received feedback on the service provided and as the quotes below highlight, it is a safe, supportive and caring environment for all survivors regardless of their age. Here are some direct comments from young people and their carers.
“At first I was extremely scared but the staff and nurses made me feel comfortable and showed me I wasn’t alone and are helping me recover from the trauma. I have been extremely grateful and thank you for help and support”
“Really kind, I loved how Dr Alyson was taking care of me and let my mum stay with me, so I loved the whole day”
“We were made to feel very welcome and treated so kindly here today. All staff have been so lovely and we have really appreciated the support and kindness we have been shown. Thank you so much”
“The two ladies put my young lady at ease. They were compassionate, explained everything clearly, answered all our questions fully. They were absolutely fantastic. Thank you so much for looking after my girl”
As leads for your respective organisations, I encourage you to familiarise yourself with the document and please circulate as widely as possible within your arena. You are the key to ensuring the pathway is understood and followed.