Press Release issued on behalf of the Victoria Climbie Foundation
On 14th August, the Government launched its National Action Plan to tackle child abuse linked to faith or belief, informed by a Working Group comprising statutory, faith and community organisations, and individuals with specialist knowledge and expertise.
VCF – The Victoria Climbié Foundation is one of a number of partners leading on actions within the plan which focuses on four themes; engaging communities, empowering practitioners, supporting victims and witnesses, and communicating messages.
The tragic death of Kristy Bamu in 2010, from ritual abuse, brought a timely focus to efforts to address child abuse linked to witchcraft and spirit possession, although learning from this case does not feature in the government’s action plan, nor has it been initiated by a serious case review.
What has been included in this plan is a baseline of existing information and resources, and a cohesive approach to take forward proposed solutions from the first phase of consultation with working group members, and more recent contributions from a wider group of interested parties.
Commenting on the National Action Plan, Mor Dioum, VCF Director said “By bringing the issue into the open, and working with our statutory partners, the relevant communities and the voluntary sector, we can better protect and support members of our communities when they seek to highlight their concerns.”
“However, we need to work more effectively with families to achieve better outcomes for children and young people affected by this type of abuse.”
VCF welcomes government efforts to recognise and address child abuse linked to faith or belief, and will continue to seek inclusion of all aspects of culture and faith within the Working Together framework, as well as key learning from faith or belief cases.
NOTES TO EDITORS
The Victoria Climbié Foundation was established by Mr and Mrs Climbié (Victoria’s parents) to campaign for improvements in child protection policies and practices and to ensure effective links & coordination between statutory agencies, care services and BME communities.
VCF – The Victoria Climbié Foundation emerged from the tragic death of Victoria Climbié, the result of ritual abuse by her guardian in this country and the systematic failure of statutory bodies to prevent this abuse.
In 2004-05, a pilot study commissioned by the Metropolitan Police to work with African and South Asian communities, enabled VCF to offer an insight into how the community was dealing with child abuse. The study provided the first template for the Community Partnership Project adopted by the London Safeguarding Children Board in 2006, and led to the creation of Project Violet.
Since 2007, VCF has demonstrated improved capacity and skills to provide support to BME families and children where there are child protection concerns based on belief related to spirit possession, with the development of its ‘casework’ and ‘outreach’ processes. Through direct referrals from the community, statutory services and solicitors, VCF provides an independent advocacy service, and assessments for the courts.
VCF works in partnership with Local Safeguarding Children Boards to engage local communities. A safeguarding children community partnership model has been pioneered by the Victoria Climbié Foundation in collaboration with Safeguarding Children Boards in two London boroughs. This is a model for community consultation, engagement and collaboration to improve communications between statutory agencies and community and faith groups, to ensure that the voice of the community is heard by strategic and policy decision-makers. The VCF model was piloted in the Pan London project, and is at the heart of the LSCB Culture and Faith strategy.
In 2012, VCF worked alongside the Metropolitan Police to protect and support family victims and witnesses during the investigation into the death of Kristy Bamu, the most recent case of reported ritual abuse in this country.
VCF is the leading independent organisation addressing issues of child abuse linked to faith or belief across all ethnicities.