Report 41: Prevention in adult safeguarding - Emerging evidence
Kirklees Council: live drama and a DVD on keeping safe
Sarah Carlile, Safeguarding Partnership Manager for Kirklees Council Safeguarding Adults Board, describes using drama to raise awareness about safeguarding issues with a range of groups in the community.
Kirklees Council first engaged the theatre company Risky Things in 2008 to run a drama project with people with learning disabilities and their carers. The company worked with a group of approximately 15 to 20 people with learning disabilities to develop performance material and write scripts, based on issues to do with safeguarding. The aim of the drama was to help people with learning disabilities recognise what abuse is and show them what to do if it happens to them.
A group of four to five people with learning disabilities went on to work with Risky Things to produce two live performances in March 2008, acting out six scenarios portraying potentially abusive situations. The facilitators engaged the audience – mainly people with learning difficulties – to discuss what they might do in these situations. The events were a great success, with over 150 people coming to the events in total.
The Council also commissioned Risky Things to produce a DVD based on the live performances, which again involved people with learning disabilities. This DVD, titled 'Risky Things', is now used widely as a training tool across all learning disabilities services in Kirklees.
In 2009/10 Kirklees Council broadened out this work to address safeguarding issues with nearly 70 people from a range of local groups. The Council's Community Liaison Team led on this next stage of the work, engaging Risky Things to work with a range of community groups to raise awareness of safeguarding issues. Again, the performances were scenario-based – say, showing the reluctance of older people to complain about poor treatment, or the interference of a relative over an older person's bank account – to actively engage people to discuss the issues raised. Each piece of work involved six two-hour workshops, and culminated in one final live performance.
From this work Risky Things produced a CD, 'Talking Heads', which features a number of people telling their stories, interspersed with suggestions about what to do in different circumstances. This CD is being finalised in spring 2011 and will then be available on the council's website. Copies will also be available to use in training, particularly for personal assistants working for people who purchase their own care.
The first phase of work was funded out of the Council's training budget. The second phase of work was funded from two separate funding streams within the Council: money for community groups and money for prevention. The funding has been justified by the number of people reached by this approach. However, it is resource intensive and may not be feasible in this form in the future, which is one of the reasons for developing a DVD.
What's worked wellOpen
The drama performances undoubtedly raised awareness of the issues and engaged individuals and communities successfully. A performance is as much about the process as it is about the final performance – so, in the case of the people with learning difficulties, the participants gained a great deal from the experience. The creative method works well with groups for whom it is difficult to raise these issues using a more traditional training or education approach.
The Council's safeguarding referrals for people with a learning disability reduced over the period in which the drama projects were running, although it is hard to reach a conclusion about cause and effect as other work was being carried out at the same time.
The work is time intensive initially: reviewing and agreeing the scripts, project managing and supporting the work to happen.
Some communities are reluctant to participate in the acting, particularly in a final performance to an audience, but a skilled facilitator can find other ways for the group to participate.
Most recently, Kirklees has started developing a DVD with Risky Things that is based on the scenario work they did in the community but focusing it on personalisation and prevention. This will provide a more flexible means of getting the message out, as financial resources are more limited now.