Safeguarding Sussex Week: Complex Families

This year’s Learning Together week runs from Monday 27 November -Friday 1 December 2017 and there will be a variety of events to spotlight and debate some of the most important issues in our city which affect individuals, their families and the wider community. This year the Safeguarding Week is being held in conjunction with our partners from East & West Sussex as well as Brighton & Hove Safeguarding Adults Board and the Safe in the City Partnership Board

You can view the Brighton & Hove programme here and the face to face events will provide a space for professionals to explore their responsibilities in their everyday work, and reflect on their contribution to keeping people safe and well.

If you cannot attend one of our events you may wish to make some time to complete some eLearning to increase your safeguarding knowledge, or you may want to use one of our Practice Point Scenarios to start discussion in your team meetings, or reflect on the implications for your practice after reading our Briefing for Staff: W&X SCR. 

Throughout the week we will be circulating a series of bite-sized bulletins to give you an appetite for different safeguarding themes, and point you in the direction for further information. Look out for them in your inbox, and follow the week on social media #SafeguardingSussex

Complex Families

Safeguarding Sussex Week has given us the opportunity to consider a wide range of abuse issues and risks. Rarely do any of these occur in isolations, and those working with families will already be aware of how these problems interact in complex ways.

Often the term “toxic trio” is used to identify those situations where there is a combination of domestic violence & abuse, substance misuse, & mental health. These issues individually and collectively create a range of risks to the children in the household. These families have complex needs, and it will take time to identify the particular support that will help them overcome their individual challenges. Labelling the parents as “toxic” is not a helpful way to approach whole family working, and, as ever, safeguarding professionals should seek to understand the child’s lived experience and the impact on their wellbeing. 

Transient families, or those who move frequently, have an additional level of complexity. A parent’s homelessness or placement in temporary accommodation, often at a distance from previous support networks, can result in or be associated with transient lifestyles. There is a risk the family will fall through the net and become disengaged from health, education and other support systems. There may also be a reduction in previously available family / community support.Temporary accommodation, for example bed and breakfast accommodation or women’s refuges, may present additional risks e.g. where other adults are also resident who may pose a risk to the child.


LSCB strategic aims: 

The LSCB and our partner agencies are committed to safeguarding children from all types of abuse, and ensuing the best outcomes for them.

Early Help, Pathways, Thresholds and Assessments is a priority area of the LSCB Business Plan, and we are currently refreshing our Threshold Document and the city’s Early Help Strategy to ensure that we are helping the right children at the right time. We plan to have a consultation on the new Whole Family Working Strategy in February 2018 with the revised policy launching in the spring.

We work closely with the Safeguarding Adults Board, and invite adult service providers to sit on a selection of our subcommittees, including our joint Participation & Engagement Subcommittee, and involve them in our quality assurance activity and learning reviews where appropriate.


Multi-agency training: 


Further reading: 

Pan Sussex Child Protection & Safeguarding Procedures:


Useful websites & contacts: 

  • Brighton and Hove Wellbeing Service  To access advice or support around mental health in Brighton & Hove please contact the Community Wellbeing Service 0300 002 0060 (Lines open Monday – Friday 8am – 6pm). 
  • The Portal provides a single point of contact for victims and survivors of domestic or sexual abuse and violence, helping them to find the right help, advice and support. The Portal can also give advice and support to friends, families and professionals. Freephone 0300 323 9985
  • Safe in the City many agencies work together through the Brighton & Hove Safe in the City Partnership to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour, including domestic and sexual violence and abuse. The site has information on the agencies who can offer support. You can also find out how we can help you and, if you want, report a crime or incident.
  • Rise is a domestic abuse charity working in Brighton & Hove and West Sussex. Rise stands for Refuge, Information, Support and Education. Rise supports women, children, young people and LGBT people affected by domestic abuse.
  • Family Information Service provides information on a range of subjects on their website.
  • Pavilions provide services for adults dealing with substance misuse and alcohol addiction in Brighton & Hove, including families & carers supporting those struggling with substance misuse.
  • Brighton Oasis Project : A substance misuse service for women and families, supporting and empowering women who have difficulties with drink or drugs to make positive changes in their lives
  • If you are concerned about an adult at risk of abuse in Brighton & Hove call Access Point on 01273 295555. View more information on making a referral to adult social care.


If you have concerns about a child contact the Front Door for Families on 01273 290400