North London Partners in health and care

Managing risk of hidden harm to vulnerable children and adults during the pandemic

NCL Safeguarding leads have highlighted the need for all health and social care professionals to be aware of the risk of hidden harm to vulnerable children and adults during the Covid-19 lockdown.

In these difficult times the most vulnerable in society may be the least visible. Self-isolation leaves victims of domestic abuse, adults and children with mental health needs, vulnerable and missing children, and those most at risk from fraudulent online activity and exploitation (sexual and financial), not visible to protective services.

Contact by health and social care professionals with individuals considered to be at risk may currently not be on a face-to-face basis and is therefore less likely to identify immediate concerns.

Possible delays in both the identification of increased mental ill health, increased alcohol and substance abuse and delays in Mental Health Act Assessments may have a significant impact on parent and carers ability to prioritise their children or vulnerable adults’ needs.

Alongside this, fear of accessing health services due to the risk of loved ones being exposed to the Covid 19 virus may lead to late presentations at Accident and Emergency departments and more serious ill health consequences.

Safeguarding leads across the NCL pathway are working closely with their National and local colleagues to gain assurance that support and appropriate action is taken when trends and issues of concern are identified.

We want all staff to be aware of the need to make every contact with vulnerable adults and children count, and to understand that they may be the only person who is having the opportunity to have significant involvement with the individual concerned at this unprecedented time.

Additional guidance has already been sent to General Practitioners across NCL on how to support families and children at risk of harm and domestic abuse.

Professionals should follow their usual local pathways for advice and referral; and to consult with their local safeguarding leads to provide advice and support if required. However, urgent concerns should be referred directly to Children or Adults Social Care in your area utilising the usual referral systems.

Domestic Violence (DV) Support

  •  National DV helpline: 0808 2000 247
  • Immediate danger call 999 (if unable to speak press 55 and assistance will be given)
  • Advice and information is also available on a dedicated metropolitan police web page.


Referral Pathway for Domestic abuse

  • Barnet Solace Advocacy and Support Service
    With an allocated Advisor, they will provide practical and emotional support, crises intervention and risk management support.
    Telephone : 020 3874 5003


  •  Solace Women’s Aid duty numbers are 020 3795 5068 and or 07483 097 320


  •  Haringey domestic Abuse helpline 10am-5.30pm 0300 0120213


  • Domestic violence and gender based violence contact Solacein Islington who provide free and confidential support for women and men in Islington affected by abuse. 
    Call 020 3795 5070  lines are open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm

  •  Victim Support freephone 0808 168 9291lines are open Monday to Friday, 8am-8pm and Saturday, 9am to 5pm.
    Support outside opening hours, call the Supportline  on freephone 0808 1689 111 or request support via the Victim Support website


  •  Camden Safety Net are working with all health referrals.  Please note they have a dedicated NHS email for this.