Working with East European Roma families to address safeguarding and child protection challenges more effectively - Online learning event - access the sessions flexibly from 5th - 7th February 2024 with live 1/2-hour workshop 1.00pm, 7th February

5/6/7 February 2024



Gabriela Smolinska-Poffley
Roma Support Group


February 5, 2024


February 7, 2024

Communities of East European Roma have settled in most cities many towns in the UK over the last 20 years.

With a history of persecution and discrimination in their countries of origin, many Roma have a profound distrust of UK statutory services, and especially of social services.  Concepts of parenting and safeguarding within Roma communities can differ significantly to those of the UK. For these reasons, Roma families can present significant challenges to service providers, especially in the context of safeguarding and child protection.

Issues around neglect, linked to poverty as well as culture, remain the principal reason for social services intervention. There have been examples of disproportionate responses where Roma cases have been ‘fast-tracked’ to child protection measures, and where ‘evidence’ is misread, often due to language or cultural factors.

Many professionals have had little training to prepare them for working with as complex a range of communities as the Roma. Many Roma parents are employed, have a good level of English language, and support their children in education. However, there are some families which are particularly disadvantaged, less integrated and where older ways of living continue. These families often live in poor quality rental properties and have low status ‘unofficial’ jobs. Where language skills and levels of education are low, and state intervention is feared, Roma parents are unlikely to ask for help and may actively avoid contact.

How can services work more effectively, and efficiently, with Roma families?

How can relationships be forged with families, and trust built up with communities?


This learning day from the Roma Support Group will include a brief cultural awareness overview but will focus principally on identifying safeguarding issues which may arise with East European Roma families, and ways in which these may be addressed more effectively.


Sessions will:

  • Review briefly the social history and culture of Roma from Eastern Europe
  • Explore in more depth the implications for safeguarding – including family structure and relationships, concepts of honour in the context of relationships between boys and girls, and perceptions of good parenting
  • Consider the importance of understanding differentiation in the Roma community – employing a Roma heritage worker may not be effective if he or she is ‘from the wrong village’
  • Identify safeguarding issues which have arisen, including parental absence, children missing school, and taking Roma children into care
  • Review case studies where interventions have been poorly handled, and where they have been well handled
  • Take a fresh look at undertaking parental and other assessments
  • Share tools which exist to provide information to Roma families about child protection
  • Explore approaches to working with Roma families which build trust and promote better understanding

Format of the training

  • This training takes place online and sessions (excluding the live workshop) are pre-recorded by the presenters.
  • Details of the sessions are given in the Agenda section. The total recording time for all the sessions is approximately 3 hours. We advise you to leave some additional time for any reflections or exercises included.
  • In order to offer flexibility to busy professionals, the sessions can be accessed at any time over a three-day period, from Monday 5th to Wednesday 7th February


What you will get from us

  • Once you have booked, you will be emailed a brief confirmation.
  • Approximately 1-2 weeks prior to the start of the training days we will email joining instructions which will include your personal access codes, full details of how to access the training sessions and the live workshop, and your PowerPoint slides.
  • After you have completed the training, we will email a Certificate of Attendance for your CPD records


Technical heads up

  • If you are part of a large organisation, please check with your IT department that there are no firewalls which will prevent you from accessing the training.
  • We strongly advise accessing the sessions using Chrome
  • We’re here to help, so if you have any problems, just call us or email us (contacts below)


The live workshop

  • The live workshop is run by the presenter for half an hour at 1.00pm on Wednesday, 7th February
  • This is your opportunity to ask a question, or to raise a real-life situation you are experiencing, or have experienced, in the course of your work.


Please feel free to telephone us on 0115 916 3104 or email us
on with any queries.


The sessions are pre-recorded and can be accessed at any time over a 3-day period. In total, the sessions take approximately 3 hours, but we would advise leaving additional time to complete exercises and reflect.

Session 1

Understanding Roma families in the context of their history and experiences

  • Brief cultural awareness overview
  • East European Roma in the UK – including differences between groups
  • Impact of cultural factors for safeguarding and child protection
Session 2

Safeguarding and child protection issues which have arisen with Roma families in the UK

  • Main areas of concern for statutory authorities
  • Examples and case studies
Session 3

Taking a fresh look at the assessment process

  • Why the assessment process can be a ‘bad fit’
  • Problems around timescales
  • Language differences and working with interpreters
  • Ways to improve the assessment process
Session 4

Developing a more effective approach

  • Tools to promote better understanding
  • Approaches to working with Roma families
  • Practice examples

Live online workshop with presenter: 1 – 1.30pm, Wednesday, 7th February

  • Children’s and families’ social workers
  • Local Safeguarding Children Boards
  • Family support professionals
  • Children’s charities
  • Youth workers, gangs projects, and CSE specialists
  • Schools
  • Education support, including education welfare and exclusions
  • Youth justice professionals
  • Substance misuse services
  • Community health services
  • Maternity health services and health visitors
  • Public health
  • Police and Community Protection Officers
  • Housing professionals – social and private rented



Anyone attending from Scotland or Northern Ireland should be aware that any legal & guidance references are generally English and Welsh policy.

Delegate fee:

 £65+ VAT = £78


Want to book a larger group (over 10)?

  • Discount on the standard price available for these dates
  • Arrange different dates to suit your group
  • Training can be delivered in your workplace or live online just for your group


Call 0115 916 3104 or email to arrange


Booking Terms and Conditions

  • The latest date for cancellation of standard rate places is 2 weeks prior to the first day of the training event; an administration fee of 25% will be charged for cancellation
  • Substitutions will be accepted, but these must be notified in writing PRIOR to the first day of the training event
  • It is the responsibility of each participant to ensure that they set aside time to access the online sessions; unexpected work or personal events will not entitle the delegate to access later events without re-booking
  • Cancellations should be made in writing to up to two weeks before the start of the event and will be acknowledged


Please note that slightly different T&Cs will apply to large group bookings.

Gabriela Smolinska–Poffley is Roma Support Group’s deputy manager and a Roma Support & Engagement Programme Leader. She has been working with East European Roma communities since 2002. From 2002 until 2005 Gaba ran after school activities for Roma children. These included art and crafts sessions and a reading group; through those activities Gaba was co-responsible for the creation of Colours of Hope: A Little Book by Roma Refugee Children for Everybody, a pictorial book written and illustrated by Roma refugee and asylum-seeking children, which was first published by the RSG in 2003.

Between 2005 and 2011 Gaba ran different health-related projects including Roma Health Awareness and Advocacy and Roma Mental Health Advocacy; facilitating Roma refugees and migrants’ access to health and mental health services. Gaba is a co-author of the Roma Mental Health Advocacy Project Evaluation Report published by the RSG in 2012.

More recently Gaba has been co-managing the Roma Support & Engagement Programme, which is our response to a growing need amongst service providers to ensure specialist interventions for Roma families across the UK. Gaba delivers Roma culture awareness training sessions, a specialist assessment and intervention service for Roma families in crisis. Gaba also supports new grassroots Roma initiatives and community organisations by offering advice on capacity building and development tailored to the specific needs of organisations.
The Roma Support Group (RSG) is the longest established Roma-led charity organisation in the UK. Since its founding in 1998, the organisation has assisted thousands of Roma families in accessing welfare, housing, education, health and employment, as well as empowering Roma communities through a wide range of advocacy and cultural programmes.