Working with East European Roma families to address safeguarding and child protection challenges more effectively

21 Oct 20



Gabriela Smolinska-Poffley
Roma Support Group
Mihai Calin Bica
Roma Support Group


October 21, 2020 - 9:30 am


October 21, 2020 - 4:00 pm


Aston University, Birmingham B4 7ET   View map

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

Roma families can present significant challenges to service providers, especially in the context of safeguarding and child protection. 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.

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, facilitated by the Roma Support Group (and including a Roma community member), 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.

How can services work more effectively and efficiently with Roma families around safeguarding and child protection issues?

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

This learning day, facilitated by the Roma Support Group (and including a Roma community member), will include a brief cultural awareness overview but will focus principally on safeguarding and child protection issues which may arise with East European Roma families, and ways in which these may be addressed more effectively.


  • 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 including a practice example of Derby City Council’s Roma Outreach Team

There will be opportunities for questions and comments in each session, and the facilitators will be happy to talk with delegates in break times.

9.30 – 10.00


10.00 – 11.15

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

11.15 – 11.30

Coffee break

11.30 – 12.40

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

12.40 – 1.30


1.30 – 2.15

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

2.15 – 2.25

Collect tea and biscuits

2.25 – 3.45

Developing a more effective approach

  • Tools to promote better understanding
  • Approaches to working with Roma families
  • Practice example – Derby City Council’s Roma Outreach Team


Final questions and close of learning day

The training will take place in Birmingham City Centre:

Conference Aston Meeting Suites

Aston University,

The Aston Triangle,


B4 7ET

Venue telephone – 0121 204 4300

New Street, Snow Hill and Moor Street train stations are all within 20 minutes walk of the venue or a 5 minute taxi journey.

Car parking and direction information

Follow this link for a downloadable map, directions and car park information:

There are pay and display car parks on-site but spaces must be booked in advance – follow the link above to do this.


 There is a hotel on-site in the Aston Business School

Follow this link for costs, details of rooms and booking information:

The Roma Support Group is based in London and has been working with East European Roma refugees and migrants since 1998. Members of the Roma community are involved in all aspects of the organisation. The Roma Support Group offers Roma families a variety of services, and works to promote an understanding of Roma culture in the UK.
The Roma Support Group has worked extensively with a very wide range of statutory and voluntary sector service providers.

  • 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
  • New Arrivals teams
  • Community safety
  • 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

The delegate fee:

£135 + VAT per place

A *team deal discount is available when you book either 3 or 5 places together

Team of 3 £335 + VAT

Team of 5 £540 + VAT

Please ring 0115 9163104 for further information.

The delegate rate includes an information pack, lunch and refreshments throughout the day.


Booking Terms and Conditions

Cancellations received up to and including 30 September 2020 will be refunded in full less an administration fee of 25%. Cancellations received after this date will be liable for payment in full.

Team deals are not cancellable, but substitute delegates will always be accepted.

The full invoice amount will remain payable if you fail to attend the event, however, substitute delegates will be accepted up until, and including, the day of the event.



Confirmation of booking:

Your booking will be confirmed by email where possible (and by fax or post otherwise), and you will be provided with directions to the venue and details on nearby hotel accommodation. If you do not receive such acknowledgement, please contact Central Conference Consultants Ltd on 0115 916 3104.