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Concerns over vulnerable children during lockdown

Referrals to children’s social care in Cornwall have reduced during the Covid-19 outbreak, raising concerns about the safety and welfare of vulnerable children during lockdown. 

Calls to the Multi Agency Referral Unit (MARU) have significantly reduced since schools were closed and calls to the Early Help Hub, which provides family support, links to school nursing and emotional health support, have also seen a dramatic decrease.  

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This is the same in other areas of the Country, however there are concerns that incidents of harm may be going unreported.  Cornwall Council is calling on families, carers and friends to support all young people and if they see something – to say something.  

Cabinet member for children, health and wellbeing councillor Sally Hawken said: “The country may be in lockdown, but when it comes to safeguarding children in Cornwall, it is business as usual.  I would urge anyone if they have concerns about a young person to pick up the phone and to call.   

“Referrals are normally made by schools, GP surgeries and nurses and extended family, so with limited numbers of children in school and more doctors doing telephone consultations, they could slip under the radar.  Referrals may be down, but we have no reason to believe that child abuse is also down, in fact there are concerns, as with domestic abuse figures published recently, it could be up.” 

Social workers and social care practitioners across Cornwall are still working and supporting families, albeit following social distancing measures as directed by the government. Essential home visits are still being completed where there are serious concerns about the safety and welfare of a child, even during the lockdown period.  

Director of children’s services at Cornwall Council Meredith Teasdale added: “We have systems in place to ensure children are safe across Cornwall, but now more than ever it’s important that communities and neighbours are looking out for each other.  

“These are unprecedented times and if a family needs help, I would urge them to get in touch – We are here to support you!” 

If you wish to make a request for family support please contact the Early Help Hub on 01872 322277.  Alternatively, please visit cornwall.gov.uk, search for Early Help Hub, and complete the online request for help form

If you have immediate concerns or are worried about a child or young person's safety please telephone the Multi Agency Referral Unit (MARU) on 0300 123 1116.

The MARU provides a multi-disciplinary response to concerns about the welfare or safety of a child or young person. The multi-disciplinary team also provides advice and guidance to parents and professionals about the wide range of services available to children and families in Cornwall.