Case Studies


Accrington-based, Hyndburn Borough Council describes itself as a ‘compact’ Lancashire borough having a population of 81,600 comprising people from a wide variety of backgrounds, faiths and ages. There’s a well-established Asian heritage community, migrants from Eastern Europe and a strong Polish community. The over 55′s form an increasing part of the mix, with approximately one third of the population under the age of 25.

The authority provides the usual gamut of advice and services spanning   everything from housing to environment waste and recycling, social benefits to parks, and its front-line workers have lots of face-to-face contact with the public.

The Challenge

Hyndburn Council determined that working practices needed to reflect and be fully in-line with new, national legislation and minimum standards. To achieve this, employees (particularly those involved in face-to-face contact with children and vulnerable adults) were to receive full training in safeguarding.

The council understood its staff would be in a position to spot the signs and symptoms of abuse relating to both younger citizens and vulnerable adults. What they needed was to equip them with the relevant knowledge of how to respond in such situations; to provide awareness of what that means in terms of an individual’s roles and responsibilities towards safeguarding customers in the context of their own job but also, when working within multi-agency settings.

The requirement was for a training course tailored expressly to the needs of their workforce. To keep costs low, in a difficult economic climate, the council wanted to engage a local contractor who was good value for money to supply the training.

The Athena Solution

We put together a comprehensive session over a full-day.

Attendees included reception staff, welfare benefits advisers, welfare benefits assessors, council tax administrators, housing advisers, other front line council staff and councillors.

The training covered safeguarding in a national and, also, a local context and went on to explore:

  • developing knowledge of categories of child abuse
  • increasing awareness of the signs and symptoms of abuse
  • reporting pathways
  • how and who to report concerns about a child
  • how to respond to allegations/concerns about a vulnerable adult
  • knowledge of the signs and symptoms of adult abuse
  • knowledge and skills on information sharing and multi-agency working
  • reporting pathways and how to respond to allegations or concerns of adult abuse

We ensured from the outset that the programme was excellent value for money.

The Outcome

Ivy Crossley said: “We found working with Athena a very good experience. They were always at arms length, friendly, efficient, and delivered a course that was tailored to our needs.

We are extremely satisfied with our dealings with Athena and would definitely use them again. We would advise anyone who needed a course that matches their own specific requirements to consider Athena.”

2014 Update

Since the original safeguarding training sessions delivered in 2010, Hyndburn Council have continued to hi-light and prioritise refresher safeguarding training for all key staff.

  • In 2011, four further safeguarding sessions were delivered to front line staff and council members to raise awareness with those who visit homes and have face to face contact with children and vulnerable adults.  These sessions included awareness raising sessions on Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) to meet both National and local CSE priorities. By delivering some of the training sessions during the evening many Hyndburn Councillors were now able to meet the training needs of working council members who had previously been unable to attend safeguarding training.

Louise Evans (Organisational Development Officer for the Council) responsible for staff development ensured that staff’s safeguarding training needs were fed into the council’s annual training matrix putting the council at the forefront of if not ahead of national and local compliance requirements in safeguarding.

  • In September 2013 a further Child Sexual Exploitation training session was commissioned by the Council and this was delivered to both front line staff as well as council members. This was in response to the conviction of nine men in Rochdale for sexual abuse of children and reports on failures by council staff to protect vulnerable children, most of who had been in care.
  • In September 2014 Hyndburn council identified that a number of staff still required to be trained in safeguarding awareness. The logistics of delivering training to these groups proved difficult as it involved large numbers of staff employed in satellite offices/sites without suitable training rooms. e.g. Waste and Park Staff.

Athena facilitated an interactive 20 minute mini briefing to waste and park staff – on site at their work canteen. It delivered short yet relevant and up to date key messages about who to look out for and who to report concerns to. Two further refresher sessions were delivered to the benefits department and other front line staff. Athena worked training into established team meetings to minimise disruption to work and provided training handouts at the end of all the sessions. All training sessions included a focus on signs and symptoms of child sexual exploitation.

Within a week of the delivery of these sessions two concerns were raised with the Council’s Safeguarding Lead. They included:-

  • Licensing officer reporting a taxi driver regularly overcharging a very vulnerable adult
  • Refuse Collector-  reporting a taxi driver – possible grooming of a child
  • Market Officer reporting young girl in Market Hall during school hours befriending adults
  • Environmental Health Officer reporting vulnerable old lady being potentially domestically abused by partner.

All concerns were referred to the relevant Local authority team for action.

Following the training the Safeguarding Lead Rob Grigorjevs said:

“Safeguarding is an issue for everyone. Our motto is ‘It is better to say something than say nothing’.  The training Athena provide is well paced, interactive and very well informed. Training and awareness is ongoing and we will ensure it continues on a regular basis.”

Following the training Louise Evans – Organisational development Officer said:

“Training our staff on how to spot the signs, and how to report safeguarding issues is extremely important. Our frontline staff are out and about in the community and have contact with community members on a regular basis, they’re the most likely to spot something a little different or not quite right and it’s important that they know what to do if they have any concerns”

“Athena delivered sessions to equip them with the knowledge to do just this, in a no-nonsense to the point briefings tailored to our service needs.  The reports following the briefings are proof of the effectiveness.”