Lewisham Safeguarding Children Partnership

Children & Parents Information

Welcome to the Children & Parents pages

The Lewisham Safeguarding Children Partnership (LSCP) is tasked with ensuring services are equipped to keep children and young people safe.

This section aims to provide you with useful information on where to seek help and support if you are worried about your own, or another child/young person's safety.  We have included some tips and information on things that young people have told us worries them, as well as useful website links and video clips. We want all children and young people in Lewisham to have happy, safe lives. This can start with looking after yourself first, so read on.

It’s Good To Talk

It may sound simple but if you are worried about anything the best thing you can do is talk to someone you trust. This could be

  • Friend
  • Parent/carer
  • Teacher
  • Youth worker
  • Social worker

They may not always know exactly what to do but if they are an adult they can find out and help you. Just talking to someone can help you realise whether your worry is little and may just sort itself out in time or whether it is a big worry which means you need to do something about it as it is not going to get better until you do. Friends can be useful at helping you decide if your problem is big or small and they can help you tell an adult if you need to.


My parents argue and shout all the time

People don’t always get along. In the same way you fall out with your friends, sometimes parents can disagree over things. This sometimes means they argue and shout at each other which can be scary if you see or hear it. Most of the time adults are able to calm down and make friends with each other after an argument. Most adults sort out their differences by talking to each other. If the arguments happen regularly you could try to talk to your parents. If they realise that their arguments are upsetting you then it should help them to stop it. If you can’t talk to your parents or the arguments are violent then you need to talk to an adult you can trust. Click here for more information on Domestic Abuse.

Someone is hurting me

You can be hurt physically when someone injures your body in some way such as hitting you or you can be emotionally hurt when someone calls you names or says things that make you feel bad about yourself. Sometimes in families brothers and sisters can be quite mean to each other but they still shouldn’t physically hurt each other. If you are worried about this talk to your parent or carer. If someone else is hurting you then you need to tell someone you can trust.  If it’s other children hurting you then this could be bullying.

I’m scared when I walk home

It’s quite normal to be worried when walking around on your own especially at night. Lots of young people get concerned about walking past certain areas or groups of other young people. Click here for our top tips on walking home alone.

I’m scared on-line

If something happens on-line that worries you tell an adult immediately or click on the CEOP icon to report your concern


See our Online Safety page. If it is people you know making nasty comments tell someone you can trust and have a look at our section on bullying for help.

Lewisham Family Hubs - Getting Help Early

Welcome to the LSCP parent and carer pages. Here you will find key information about some of the safeguarding challenges facing children, young people and their parents today, along with links to support, advice and guidance on keeping them safe.

Getting help early  

Children of any age can experience challenges at times, and parents or carers can’t always meet their needs by themselves. When children do require some extra support it’s always best to put help in place as early as possible. 

What is a Family Hub

Lewisham's Family Hubs are a new way of bringing together the advice and support a family may need, from pregnancy through to young people turning 19 (or 25 if they SEND).

The Hubs will provide space to access support from professionals such as early years practitioners, health visitors, midwives, speech and language therapists and Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) advisors.  We also welcome people from the community to set up their own groups or activities within Family Hub buildings.

The Hubs offer a wide range of services, for example:

  • Support for parents with managing finances and getting back into work or training
  • Youth activities for young people aged 11 to 19 
  • Help with baby and child development
  • A range of child and family health activities including dental advice and emotional wellbeing.

Who can access a Family Hub 

Hubs provide services to any family, child or young person who needs them.

You can come along for a ‘stay and play’ session or attend more focused courses or groups on a wide range of subjects, or just come along to talk to one of our staff.  Our doors are open to everyone, and we will make sure you are directed to the support you need. 

For further information, please see below contact details and local authority website for more details and Family Hubs locations. 

Lewisham Council - Lewisham Family Hubs


Advice for Parents when your Child is Unwell or Injured

red warning

If your child has any of the following:
  • Becomes pale, mottled and feels abnormally cold to the touch
  • Has pauses in their breathing (apnoeas), has an irregular breathing pattern or starts grunting
  • Severe difficulty in breathing becoming agitated or unresponsive
  • Is going blue round the lips
  • Has a fit/seizure
  • Becomes extremely distressed (crying inconsolably despite distraction), confused, very lethargic (difficult to wake) or unresponsive
  • Develops a rash that does not disappear with pressure (the ‘Glass test’)
  • Has testicular pain, especially in teenage boys

You need urgent help:

Go to the nearest A&E department
or phone 999

amber warning

If your child has any of the following:
  • Is finding it hard to breathe including drawing in of the muscles below their lower ribs, at their neck or between their ribs (recession) or head bobbing
  • Seems dehydrated (dry mouth, sunken eyes, no tears, drowsy or passing less urine than usual)
  • Is becoming drowsy (excessively sleepy) or irritable (unable to settle them with toys, TV, food or picking up) - especially if they remain drowsy or irritable despite their fever coming down
  • Has extreme shivering or complains of muscle pain
  • Babies under 3 months of age with a temperature above 38°C / 100.4°F
  • Infants 3-6 months of age with a temperature above 39°C / 102.2°F
  • For all infants and children with a fever above 38°C for more than 5 days.
  • Is getting worse or if you are worried
  • Has persistent vomiting and/or persistent severe abdominal pain
  • Has blood in their poo or wee
  • Any limb injury causing reduced movement, persistent pain or head injury causing persistent crying or drowsiness

You need to contact a doctor or nurse today.

Please ring your GP surgery or call
NHS 111 - dial 111

The NHS is working for you.
However, we recognise during the current coronavirus crisis at peak times, access to a health care professional may be delayed.
If symptoms persist for 4 hours or more and you have not been able to speak to either a GP or 111, then take your child to the nearest A&E

green warning If none of the above features are present
  • You can continue to provide your child care at home. Information is also available on NHS Choices
  • ICON logoAdditional advice is available to families for coping with crying of well babies
  • Additional advice is available for children with complex health needs and disabilities.

Self care
Continue providing your child’s care at
home. If you are still concerned about your
child, call NHS 111 - dial 111

coronavirus advice footer


Bullying can happen to anyone at any age and can take place at school, online, in the street or even at home. Bullying is when someone or a group of people do things that hurt you and make you feel scared or bad about yourself. This can include:

  • hitting
  • pushing
  • name calling
  • teasing
  • talking about you
  • taking money and possessions

If this happens to you then you need to tell an adult so they can help you. Bullies like to be kept secret so they can get away with their bad behaviour so tell someone and then they can’t get away with it. By reporting it you could stop them doing it to someone else.

Cyber or On-Line Bullying

This is when someone or a group upset or humiliate you using the internet, on-line games, email, apps, social media, or text. It is the same as any other form of bullying but you don’t always know who is doing it.

  • If you get any horrible comments or messages take a screen shot immediately and show it to an adult. It can be hard but the best thing to do is not respond to any nasty comments and if they keep happening take action
  • You can report online bullies by pressing the CEOP button that is on most websites
  • Immediately block anyone who bullies you online. Even if you know the person, if they start being unkind to you then block them and report them to the website
  • Always make sure your profile is safe and you have used the privacy settings so only people you know can see your posts

ChildLine has more information on how to deal with bullying on different social media sites.  

Visit our Online Safety page for more information to stay safe online and bullying.

No one has the right to hurt you or make you feel bad and you don’t have to put up with it. If you are being bullied tell someone you trust NOW!


Child Protection Conferences

Lewisham's Children's Social Care Pledge to Service Users

  • We will always put your children's safety and welfare first.
  • We will not get involved in your family's lives any more than we need to.
  • We will be open, honest and fair in our work with you and your family.
  • We will always be polite and treat you with respect.
  • We will work closely with other agencies to give you better support.
  • We will write to you about major decisions.

What is a Child Projection Conference?

There is nothing more important than the safety and well-being of our children. A Child Protection Conference is a meeting between families and professionals which is held when there is concern about the safety of a child within a family.

The new Child Protection Conference helps your family and caregivers to work with Lewisham’s Children’s Social Care and other services to keep your child safe.

Lewisham is using a new way of working with your family and your children. We have introduced a more family friendly approach to Child Protection Conferences to ensure the best possible outcomes for your children and your family.

The new Child protection Conference meeting known as Strengthening Families Child Protection Conference meetings will assess risk by looking at strengths in your family; looking at worries about your family; and make decisions about child safety.

The purpose of a Conference is to:

  • Share information about your child’s health, safety and wellbeing.
  • Assess whether your child is suffering, or likely to suffer significant harm.
  • Identify the strengths within your family.
  • Identify any assistance needed by your family and professionals/agencies who might be able to provide this.
  • Identify changes needed (if any) in order to ensure the safety of your child, which will be written down and given to you.
  • Decide if your child needs to be subject to a Child Protection Plan.

A Child Protection Conference does not make decisions about legal or court action, or about where children should live.

As a parent, you are invited to attend the Conference and we would encourage you to take an active part. You may also bring someone with you as a supporter if you would like. This can be another family member, a friend, or some other person of your choice.

How can you prepare?

During the conference you will be given the chance to comment about what others are saying and to give your own information and views. You will also be asked what you think should happen in the future, including any help you feel is necessary.

Many families who have attended Conferences in the past tell us they were very nervous and didn’t say as much as they would like to. To help overcome this, it is sometimes helpful to do some preparation in advance.

We do not think it is fair that only professionals have the opportunity to provide a written report of what they want to say and parents do not get the same chance. You may write down the things you want the conference to know using the form provided. If you need help with this, please talk to the social worker.

Who else will be at the Conference?

Anyone who is able to support your child and your family can attend. This will include services and professionals who work with your child and your family. Everyone who attends the new conferences will have a chance to speak about:

  • what is working well and;
  • what is worrying them and;
  • be involved in decisions about who might support your child who has been harmed, or is believed to be at risk of harm.

The Conference will be chaired by an Independent Chairperson. There will also be someone to take notes at the meeting.

A number of professionals will also be invited to the meeting, such as:

  • Social Workers
  • Health Visitors
  • Doctors
  • Teachers
  • Attendance & Welfare Officers
  • Probation Officers
  • Police.
  • Professionals who have been involved with your family will be invited, but there may also be some individuals and agencies present, who you may not have met before. These individuals are invited because their expertise is required or because they may be able to assist you, your child, and your family.

Talking to children

It is important your child has an opportunity to talk about what they are worried about; what makes them happy; and what they would like to see happen in their family to keep them safe.

What happens at an Initial Conference?

The Independent Chairperson will meet with you just before the conference to welcome you, to explain how the Conference will run, and to talk about the best way for you to contribute to the discussion. The Chairperson will also ask you to tell us about the most significant people in your family and particular friends who help you to look after your children.

At the start of the Conference all the participants will introduce themselves, and the Chair will ask professionals to summarise the most important parts of their reports. You will be invited to contribute to this discussion. A plan will be developed with you and the professionals, after which a decision will be made about whether the risks to your child are significant enough that a Child Protection Plan is needed.

A Child Protection Plan is a list of actions with details of who is to carry out these actions and over what timescale.

You should come out of the Conference clear about what (if anything) needs to change. More detailed plans are usually made at a later meeting between you and the relevant professionals. This meeting is called the Core Group and usually happens immediately after the initial conference and as often as is needed afterwards.

It may mean that we do not make a Child Protection Plan for your child, but we will still try to help and support you, but the discussion will have identified assistance which may benefit your child, you and your family.

What can you expect from Children's Social Care?

They will work in partnership with you and your family. As a parent/carer, you should expect to:

  • be listened to.
  • be treated with respect.
  • be kept informed and involved in decisions.
  • get all the assistance and help that has been offered to you within the agreed time scales.
  • receive a reliable service, with professionals doing what they say they will do.
  • be absolutely clear about what we expect from you.
  • receive copies of all reports 2 days before an initial Conference and 5 days before a Review Conference.
  • get a copy of the Conference minutes within 20 working days of the Conference.

If you don’t feel we are meeting these standards, you should let us know.

What happens after the Conference?

After the Conference you will be sent a copy of the record of the conference.

If a Child Protection Plan is made, you will also be asked to attend regular meetings called ‘Core Groups’. At these meetings, you will look at the plan and discuss what progress has been made.

A Review Conference will be held after 3 months and then at 6 monthly intervals for as long as your child is subject of a Child Protection Plan.

My Report for the Conference

We recognise that it is not easy to remember everything you want to say. You can put your views in writing if you think that this will help. You do not have to do if you do not want to.  The following questions may be helpful to you when thinking about what you do want to say.

  1. What is going well in the care of my children?
  2. What am I worried about ?
  3. This is what I think needs to change so that my children are safe and happy.
  4. This is what would be helpful to my family to make those changes.

Keeping Information Safe

The information you are provided and held by agencies is highly confidential.  The content of the information must not be copied or disclosed to any person other than the individual it is intended for, unless the information must be shared for the purpose it was given.

When in receipt of the information, please ensure it is protected and maintained securely.

When you are finished with the information please safely destroy it by cross cut shredding or secure disposal.  Under no circumstances must the information be binned un-securely.

If you cannot dispose of the information in a secure manner please return the information to:-

Lewisham Children's Social Care Department, 1st Floor, Laurence House, 1 Catford Road, London SE26 4RU

Information must not be kept for longer than needed.  If you have received it in error please contact Corporate Information on 020 8314 9928 or return it to the sender.

If you do not adhere to the above disclaimer you could be in breach of the Data Protection Act 1998 and therefore could face legal proceedings.

You can download and print the leaflet What is a Child Protection Conference?

Useful Link: London Child Protection Procedures

Domestic & Relationship Abuse

Young People & Relationship Abuse

Most relationships are healthy and safe, and our parents or carers, extended family, boyfriends, girlfriends and friends want the best for us and treat us well. However sometimes this isn’t the case.

Relationship (domestic) abuse is when someone hurts, threatens or makes you feel scared or uncomfortable. It isn’t just physical violence but any type of controlling, bullying, threatening or violent behaviour between people in a relationship and includes emotional, physical, sexual, financial or psychological abuse.

Abuse is not normal and never ok regardless of how old you are. If you are in a relationship with someone, you should feel loved, safe, respected and free to be yourself. There are different forms of abuse and for more information and to find out where to get help visit: Disrespect NoBody Campaign website 

Remember it’s not your fault and it is important to talk about it with someone you trust.

Has anyone given you money, drugs, alcohol or gifts and somewhere to stay and then forced you to…

  • have sex with them?
  • do something sexual to them?
  • be touched inappropriately, in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable?
  • look at sexual images?
  • watch them to something sexual?

Go to our page on Multi-Agency Child Exploitation (MACE) Strategy & Resources to find out more

The Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 defines domestic violence as ‘any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between adults who are, or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.’

Domestic abuse is any incident of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse:

  • between people aged over 16
  • who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members

and can involve

  • Physical: being hit
  • Sexual: rape, sexual assault, degrading treatment
  • Financial: having money withheld or being forbidden from getting a job
  • Social: not being allowed to see friends and family or go out
  • Psychological: constantly telling someone they are worthless and so reducing their self-esteem and confidence
  • Emotional: telling a person their children will be taken from them if they leave or that no one else will love them

It can happen to anyone, regardless of age, social background, gender, religion, sexuality or ethnicity, and can begin at any stage of the relationship.

Domestic abuse can also include forced marriage and so-called “honour crimes”.

It’s abuse if your partner or a family member:

  • puts you down, or attempts to undermine your self-esteem
  • controls you, for example by stopping you seeing your friends and family
  • is jealous and possessive, such as being suspicious of your friendships and conversations
  • frightens you

Domestic abuse and safeguarding children

Children who live in families where there is domestic abuse can suffer serious long-term emotional and psychological effects. Even if they are not physically harmed or do not witness acts of violence, they can pick up on the tensions and harmful interactions between adults.

Children will learn their behaviour from examples set by other people around them and exposure to domestic abuse teaches children negative things about people and their relationships. For instance:

  • It teaches them that violence is acceptable and that they can use it
  • They learn how to keep secrets
  • They learn to mistrust those close to them

Being exposed to domestic violence can have a long-lasting effect on children which could affect their ability to form relationships in the future, including:

  • Blaming themselves for the violence
  • Feeling frightened
  • Becoming withdrawn
  • Bedwetting
  • Running away
  • Aggressiveness
  • Behavioural difficulties
  • Problems with school
  • Poor concentration
  • Emotional turmoil
  • Lack of respect
  • Loss of self-confidence

Who to contact

POLICE: 101 or in an emergency 999

Services Available to Lewisham Residents

Refuge, The Athena Service

The Athena service, run by Refuge provides confidential, non-judgmental support to those living in the London Borough of Lewisham who are experiencing gender-based violence. It opened its doors in April 2015 and provides outreach programmes, independent advocacy, group support, refuge accommodation and a specialist service for young women.

It provides the following services, all under one roof:

  • One-to-one confidential, non-judgmental, independent support
  • A specialist independent gender-based violence advocacy (IGVA) team to support clients at risk of serious harm
  • A specialist service for 13-19 year-old girls
  • Group support
  • A peer support scheme to help break isolation; build social networks and provide support clients regain control of their lives
  • Volunteering opportunities

Telephone: Athena Service on 0800 112 4052


Website: Refuge Athena One Stop Shop Services  

African Advocacy Foundation

A community-led organisation working to promote better access to health, education and other opportunities for disadvantaged communities in the UK, Europe and parts of Africa.

‚Äč‚ÄčAfrican Advocacy provide practical support, policy work, advocacy, information, guidance and training to professionals and community members alike. African advocacy work to empower individuals and families experiencing multiple disadvantages and barriers including ill health, poverty, deprivation, violence, isolation and those relating to language, culture, faith and other social issues.



76 Elmer Road, Catford, London SE6 2ER


0208 698 4473

Website: https://www.africadvocacy.org/

BelEve UK

The purpose is to equip girls and young women with the right support, skills and confidence to make informed choices about their future; improve their educational, social and economic outcomes whilst taking control of their lives.

The Albany, Deptford, SE8 4AQ


0203 372 5779

Website: https://beleveuk.org/

Latin American Women’s Rights Service (LAWRS)

LAWRS has a zero tolerance policy of any form of Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG). Our team offers adviceadvocacy and practical support to Latin American women who are experiencing or have experienced Domestic Violence, Harmful practices or any other form of violence.


Tindlemanor, 52-54 Featherstone Street.
London, EC1Y 8RT


 020 7336 0888, 084 4264 0682

Website: http://www.lawrs.org.uk/

IKWRO – Women’s Rights Organisation

IKWRO are committed to providing non-judgmental support to women who speak Kurdish, Arabic, Turkish, Farsi, Dari, Pashtu and English.


IKWRO – Women’s Rights Organisation
PO Box 75229
E15 9FX


0207 920 6460

Website: http://ikwro.org.uk/

Women and Girls Network (WGN)

WGN is a free, women-only service providing a holistic response to women and girls who have experienced, or are at risk of, gendered violence.


0808 801 0660

Website: http://www.wgn.org.uk/

WE Women (Women Empowering Women)

We Women is a collaboration of women which has been delivering community support to women since March 2017. In August 2018, we women became a constituted community group.

We Women are entirely volunteer run, and our aims are to:

  • Empower women to be more self-sufficient
  • Improve women’s health & well-being
  • Address the material impacts of poverty within the local community


Pepys Resource Centre Old Library Deptford Strand London
Greater London
United Kingdom


020 8691 3146

Website: https://www.lewishamlocal.com/places/united-kingdom/greater-london/london/lewisham-groups/we-women-women-empowering-women/

Early Years Alliance - Lewisham Children's and Family Centres

The Alliance is working together with Clyde Nursery School, Beecroft Garden School and Kelvin Grove/Eliot Bank and Downderry Children’s Centres to deliver a clear seamless borough wide children’s centre offer for families in the London Borough of Lewisham, working alongside health visiting, midwifery, schools and public health services.

Lewisham Children and Family Centres offer families access to a range of health, education, play, parenting, adult education, employment support and family support services right across the borough.

Website: https://www.lewishamcfc.org.uk/

National Stalking Helpline – Suzy Lamplugh Trust

The National Stalking Helpline is run by Suzy Lamplugh Trust. Their mission is to reduce the risk of violence and aggression through campaigning, education and support.

Telephone: 0808 802 0300

Website: https://www.suzylamplugh.org/


METRO is a leading equality and diversity charity providing health, community and youth services across London and the south-east, with some national and international projects. METRO promotes health, wellbeing and equality through youth services, mental health services and sexual health and HIV services and works with anyone experiencing issues related to gender, sexuality, diversity or identity.


Telephone: 020 8305 5000

Website: https://metrocharity.org.uk/

RASASC - Rape & Sexual Abuse Support Centre Rape Crisis South London

RASAC believe too many women have had to be silent for too long about the violence perpetrated against them.

They understand that it can be difficult to speak up, hard to find the words or to believe that anyone will listen.

RASAC will listen. They believe. They will stand up alongside you. You do not have to do this alone.

Telephone: 0808 802 9999

Postal Address:
PO BOX 383, Croydon, CR9 2AW

Website: http://www.rasasc.org.uk/contact/


Information and campaigning for LGBT rights. Got a question? A problem? Need support? Stone wall are here to help with any issues affecting LGBT people or their families. Whatever your situation, you’re not on your own. Stonewall will do what they can to help or point you in the right direction to someone who can.

Telephone: 0800 0502020

Write to Stonewall: Stonewall 192 St. John Street London EC1V 4JY

Website: https://www.stonewall.org.uk/help-advice/contact-stonewalls-information-service


Men and women working together to end domestic violence

Telephone: 0808 802 4040

Address: The Green House

244-254 Cambridge Heath Road


E2 9DA

Website: http://respect.uk.net/

The Deaf Health Charity – Sign Health


Text: 07970350366

Rights of women


Respect Helpline for men

0808 8010327


Women's Aid live chat

This is an online chatting service which is ideal for victims who are self-isolating and do not want to be heard.



0117 944 44 11

NSPCC Helpline - 0800 028 3550 or fgmhelp@nspcc.org.uk

GALOP National LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline

0800 999 5428


Supporting documents


Keeping Babies Safe

This page provides parents and care givers with information, advice and access to further support in relation to water and bath safety, coping with a crying baby and ensuring your baby is safe whilst sleeping. 

If you have any concerns about your baby or you're worried about your mental health or emotional wellbeing please contact your GP or Health Visitor.  If you or your baby are in immediate danger or there is a risk to either of your health please phone 999.  

For information and advice click on the subject title.  To change the language, click on the Select Language at the top of the website.

To find parent/carer support groups and activities in your area visit the Lewisham Council Support for Parents & Carers webpage

Mindful Mums provide award-winning, free wellbeing groups that help women look after their mental and emotional wellbeing during pregnancy and their baby’s first year. Since it started in 2016, Mindful Mums has supported over a thousand women in Bromley, Lewisham and Greenwich.

Being Dad groups are for expectant/new dads or men with parenting responsibility for babies and young children up to two years old.

Water & Bath Safety +

At home, younger children are more likely to drown in the bath or garden pond.  It's important for parents to understand the risks of babies and young children being left alone, even for a moment.  They may get no warning that something is wrong, as babies drown silently in as little as 5 cm of water.

While bath seats can be a useful tool in helping busy parents at bath time, it's important to remember they're just a support, and NOT a safety device.

Think about yours and your neighbours gardens too - young children can wander off into them and drown in garden ponds, even if you don't think they have access.

Water Safety in the Bath

  • Get everything you need ready before bath time.
  • Stay with your baby or young child all the time they're in the bath.  Keep them in arms reach.
  • Remember bath seats can topple or your baby can slip out.  Don't leave your baby alone in one, even for a moment.
  • Don't rely on your toddler to keep an eye on the baby while you pop out for a towel.  They're too young to understand the danger.

Water Safety in the Garden

  • Empty the paddling pool out after you've used it.
  • Turn a pond into a sandpit, fence it in or cover it while your children are little.
  • Make sure your child can't get into the neighbours pond.
  • Be alert to ponds, pools, or hot tubs when visiting other people's homes.

Staying Safe at the Beach

Toddlers can wander off and fall into shallow water.  As they don't have a reflex to move their head sideways or push themselves upward, they can lie in the water and drown.

Keep your eye on them and act fast to get them out of trouble.  Find out more from the Child Accident Prevention Trust.

Children Under 8

Children under 8 still need to be actively supervised in and around water.  They might understand safety instructions but are likely to forget in the heat of the moment.  Remember that children don't cry out for help and wave to be rescued.  Instead they disappear under the surface of the water, often unseen.

  • Take them safe places to learn to swim, like public pools and beaches with lifeguards.
  • If they're in an unguarded pool, for example on holiday, stay close by, keep your eye on them and act fast to get them out of trouble.

Older Children

As children become older and possibly stronger swimmers, it's important to talk to them about water safety.  They may still lack the strength and skills to get themselves out of trouble if they find themselves in strong currents or deep water, or discover too late dangerous objects lurking in the water.  Cold water shock can increase the risk of drowning.

  • Teach older children to choose safe places to swim like public pools and beaches with lifeguards.
  • Explain the dangers of swimming in open water, including strong currents, deep, cold water and things under the surface they can't see.
  • Teach your child to float.  Watch this video from the RNLI to learn how.

At the Beach

  • Teach children to swim between the red and yellow flags - these mark the areas patrolled by lifeguards.
  • Inflatables can be swept out to sea when the wind is blowing- keep children off inflatables when the orange windsock is flying and always keep an eye on them.

Children with Medical Conditions

Older children can also drown in the bath if they have a complex medical condition or a condition such as epilepsy and have a seizure in the bath.  Stay with them all the time if they're in the bath.

For more information

Coping with Crying +

curves of early infant crying graphic chart

Babies cry for lots of reasons because their brains have not developed the circuits that allow self-control or understanding. Crying is a baby's way of telling you something and it is meant to be upsetting for you to hear. This is nature’s way of making sure you pay attention. A crying baby can mean different things such as they are hungry, uncomfortable, tired but, babies sometimes cry for no reason at all. It can be incredibly upsetting and stressful for a parent or carer when a baby continuously cries after they have tried everything to settle the baby and it has not worked. It is important to remember that a baby will not hurt themselves by crying and the crying will eventually stop. At around 5 months of age, a baby's cry becomes more purposeful which means the baby is more likely to be crying for a reason.

Coping with crying can be upsetting and frustrating especially when combined with other emotions that you may be feeling and a possible lack of sleep you may be experiencing - all things associated with having a new baby. It is normal to find this difficult and it is a good idea to seek support of a professional, family member, friend or another parent or carer. Talking about your experiences and seeking support for yourself and your baby is a positive thing to do and in no way means you have failed at being a new parent or carer.

ICON logo

The ICON website has further information and advice on coping with crying. Remember:

I – Infant crying is normal
C –Comforting methods can help
O – It’s OK to walk away
N – Never, ever shake a baby

frustrated mother from crying infant

Safer Sleep +

Following the advice and guidance for safe sleeping can reduce your baby's risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) which is commonly known as cot death. Your Health Visitor, GP or Midwife can advise you on safe sleep including the correct positioning of your baby, room temperature, coverings such as blankets and co-sleeping.

Sleeping on a sofa with your baby increases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) by up to 50 times. You may not intend to sleep on the sofa with your baby –it is important to make a plan to prevent this from happening.  

The Lullaby Trust raises awareness of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), provides expert advice on safer sleep for babies and offers emotional support for bereaved families. For more information, read The Lullaby Trust's Safer Sleep Guide for Parents/Carers.

baby in cot

If you have any questions about SIDS or safer sleep, please call The Lullaby Trust information line on 0808 802 6869 (lines open Monday-Friday 10am-5pm).

Things you can do:

Sleeping your baby on their back

  • Always place your baby on their back to sleep.  Not on their front or side.  Sleeping your baby on their back (known as the supine position) every night is one of the most protective actions you can take to ensure your baby is sleeping as safely as possible.  There is substantial evidence from around the world to show that sleeping your baby on their back  at the beginning of every sleep or nap (day and night) significantly reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
  • If your baby rolls onto their tummy?  Once your baby can move themselves from their back to their front and back again by themselves, they will be able to find their own sleeping position.  The first few times they roll onto their tummy, you might like to gently turn them back, but do not feel you have to get up all night to check. Give them some time to play on their tummy while they are awake to help their development, but make sure you supervise them while they are on their front.
  • Some parents worry that by sleeping their baby on the back they will be at a greater risk of choking on their own vomit. However, no research has found this to be the case, and we now know that babies are far safer sleeping on their back. 
  • All babies should be slept on their backs unless there is medical advice saying something different. If your baby has reflux, or any other on-going health condition, speak to your doctor about the best care for them.  You should not sleep your baby on their front unless you have been advised to do so by a medical professional.

Room Sharing

  • The safest place for your baby to sleep for the first 6 months is in a separate cot or Moses basket in the same room as you.
  • The chance of SIDS is lower when babies sleep in a separate cot in the same room as their parents.

Never sleep on a sofa or in an armchair with your baby

  • Sleeping on a sofa or in an armchair with your baby is one of the most high-risk situations for them.
  • Studies have found that sharing a sofa or armchair with a baby whilst you both sleep is associated with an extremely high risk of SIDS. One study found that approximately one-sixth of infants in England and Wales who died of SIDS were found sleeping with an adult on a sofa.
  • Make sure that you do not accidentally fall asleep with your baby on a sofa. If you think you might fall asleep, put the baby down in a safe place to sleep.
  • If you are breastfeeding, have your partner stay up with you, breastfeed in a different position where you are confident you might not fall asleep, or feed the baby somewhere else.
  • Sleeping on a sofa or armchair with your baby can increase the risk of SIDS by 50 times. Find out more here.

Co-sleeping with your baby

Some parents choose to bed share with their babies. This means that their baby shares the same bed with an adult for most of the night, and not just to be comforted or fed. Some parents also choose to sleep with their baby in other places.

When you should not co-sleep

It is important for you to know that there are some circumstances in which sharing a bed with your baby can be very dangerous.

Bed sharing increases the chance of SIDS and is particularly dangerous if:

  • Either you or your partner smokes (even if you do not smoke in the bedroom)
  • Either you or your partner has drunk alcohol or taken drugs (including medications that may make you drowsy)
  • You are extremely tired
  • Your baby was born premature (37 weeks or less)
  • Your baby was born at a low weight (2.5kg or 5½ lbs or less)

You should never sleep together with your baby if any of the above points apply to you.

You must be especially careful when giving feeds that you are not in a position where you could both fall asleep in the bed together.

If you choose to bed-share

Parents may still choose to bed-share with their baby. If this is your choice, it is important that you are informed about how to minimise the risks.

If you choose to share a bed with your baby:

  • Ensure there are no pillows, sheets, blankets or any other items in the bed with you that could obstruct your baby’s breathing or cause them to overheat. A high proportion of infants who die as a result of SIDS are found with their head covered by loose bedding.
  • Follow all of our other safer sleep advice to reduce the risk of SIDS.

The safest place for your baby to sleep for the first 6 months is in a separate cot or Moses basket in the same room as you.

Co-sleeping with your baby: FAQs

I am worried I might fall asleep in bed while I breastfeed my baby at night, is this ok?

Breastfeeding reduces the chance of SIDS, so we would always try and help you work out a way to continue breastfeeding in the safest way possible. If you feel you might fall asleep because you are lying down, it might be worth trying to feed in a sitting position or step outside of bed to breastfeed. Make sure you know the advice on when never to bed share so you know when to take particular care. However, it is really important that you do not accidentally fall asleep with your baby on a sofa. If you think you might fall asleep, put the baby down in a safe place to sleep. If you are breastfeeding, have your partner stay up with you, breastfeed in a different position where you are confident you might not fall asleep, or feed the baby somewhere else.

My baby won’t settle in their cot and only sleeps well in our bed, help!

Unfortunately there is no easy fix to a baby’s sleeping habits – but keep persevering! Babies can get used to different sleeping places but it can take a while. Try moving their cot close to your bed so you can still put your hand on them if needed and they know you are close by.

Do I need to bed share to breastfeed successfully?

There is no evidence to say that you need to bed share to breastfeed. For night feeds it is easy to bring your baby into bed to feed or settle, but they are safest then going back into their cot to sleep.

Do you advise against bed sharing?

We do not tell parents to never bed share. However, we are committed to reducing the number of babies dying from SIDS, we try to give parents the best advice we can, so they know the things they should never do, and what are the safest ways to look after their baby so they can make informed choices. The Lullaby Trust and the NHS, and many professional and parenting organisations all agree that the safest place for a baby to sleep is in their own cot or Moses basket in their parents’ bedroom until they are at least six months old.

Unicef baby friendly publications

The Lullaby Trust has worked with Unicef in the wording of two publications to support families and health professionals with the challenge of addressing co-sleeping, given the association with SIDS.

You might be interested in reading the two Unicef Baby Friendly publications, which are both endorsed by The Lullaby Trust:

The safest room temperature for babies

It is important to make sure that your baby is a comfortable temperature – not too hot or too cold. The chance of SIDS is higher in babies who get too hot.

A room temperature of 16-20°C – with light bedding or a lightweight, well-fitting baby sleep bag– is comfortable and safe for sleeping babies.  Use a thermometer.

How to check if your baby is too hot or too cold

Every baby is different and our advice on room temperature is intended as a guide. So while it’s important to be informed about overheating, you need to check your baby regularly to see if they are too hot.

Feel your baby’s tummy or the back of their neck (your baby’s hands and feet will usually be cooler, which is normal). If your baby’s skin is hot or sweaty, remove one or more layers of bedclothes or bedding.

Why do babies who are unwell need fewer layers?

When babies feel unwell, with a cold or fever, they may be warmer than usual. It is important that you put fewer layers on an unwell baby so they have the opportunity to lower their body temperature – don’t feel tempted to wrap an unwell baby up more than usual.

If your baby shows signs of being significantly unwell you should seek medical advice. You may also find it helpful to use our Baby Check guide to monitor your baby’s symptoms.

Use a firm, flat and waterproof mattress in good condition

You should use a firm and flat mattress that is protected by a waterproof cover. This will help keep the mattress clean and dry, as the cover can be wiped down.

Make sure your baby’s mattress is in good condition and that it fits the Moses basket or cot properly.

Avoid using soft or bulky bedding

Firmly tucked in sheets and blankets (not above shoulder height) or a baby sleep bag are safe for a baby to sleep in. Be sure to remove any soft toys from the cot before each sleep period.

Sleep your baby in the feet-to-foot position and avoid using soft or bulky bedding such as quilts, pillows and duvets.

Pillows can increase the risk of SIDS

Pillow use alone has been shown to increase the chance of SIDS occurring by up to 2.5 times. If you were thinking of using a pillow with your baby due to concerns for plagiocephaly (or ‘flat head syndrome’). There are techniques you can use that could help plagiocephaly which will not increase the risk of SIDS.

We understand that plagiocephaly usually corrects itself within a year, but if you feel it is severe you may want to speak to your health professional or seek corrective treatment.

Find out more about The Lullaby Trust advice for a clear cot here.

We advise that babies have plenty of supervised tummy time in their waking hours to minimise time spent on their back, and you should also avoid letting babies sleep in harder contained sleep environments such as car seats and other travel systems.

Advice for using second-hand mattresses

It can be common to use a second-hand mattress either from friends and family, or from your previous children. There is some research that found an increased chance of SIDS when using a second-hand mattress  brought in from outside of the family home, although the link is not yet proven.

To help reduce this risk, if you are using a second-hand mattress make sure the mattress you choose was previously completely protected by a waterproof cover, with no rips or tears and is in good condition. The mattress should also still be firm and flat to keep your baby sleeping safely.

Remove cot bumpers

Cot bumpers can pose the risk of an accident to your baby once they begin to roll and move about the cot. There have been a number of cases in the UK and abroad where infants have become entangled in the ties and material, or fallen from pulling themselves up on the bumpers.

A simple mattress in your cot with no loose bedding or bumpers is the safest sleeping place for a baby. Find out more about the Lullaby Trust advice on cot bumpers here.

Mattresses and bedding: FAQs

Our room is very small and we can only squeeze in a travel cot, is this safe?

The same ‘safer sleep’ rules apply to a travel cot, which should have a rigid frame and base, and a firm, flat mattress, covered in a waterproof material.

Travel cot mattresses are often thinner and feel harder than those in a permanent cot, but don’t be tempted to place folded blankets or a quilt under the baby to make them ‘more comfortable’.

If you are very tight for space, you may have to consider re-arranging the furniture in the room to ensure that the travel cot isn’t against a radiator, in direct sunlight, and is out of reach of blind cords and hazards.

We have been given a cot and mattress second-hand. Is it safe to use with our new baby?

Generally we would advise it is safest to have a new mattress for each baby, though we know this is not always possible.

There is some evidence to suggest that bringing in a mattress from another home might increase the risk of sudden infant death very slightly. When using your own mattress for a second (or more) time, ensure it is still firm and flat with no tears or holes, and is not sagging in places. Thoroughly clean the waterproof layer and ensure the mattress is clean and dry before making it up with fresh bed clothes.

Can I put my twin babies in the same cot to sleep?

The Lullaby Trust has no evidence that putting twins in the same cot, in the early months, places them at greater risk of sudden infant death.

However, there are some things you can do to increase safety:

  • Never put twins together in a Moses basket or a small cot as they may overheat in the restricted space.
  • If you chose to sleep them side by side in one cot, only do this in the early weeks, when there is no danger of them rolling towards or over each other.
  • It is also an option, right from the start, to place them at opposite ends of the cot, each of them ‘feet to foot’. Each twin therefore has their own firmly tucked in bedclothes or baby sleeping bag.
  • Do not use rolled towels, foam wedges, or other objects between their heads.

By the time the twins are big enough to roll over they should be moved into their own separate cots. All the safer sleep advice applicable to single babies should be followed whether the babies are in the cot together or not.

Is it okay for my baby to sleep in a car seat?

It is fine for your baby to fall asleep when they are in their car seat, but once you get home we would advise that you move your baby to their usual firm, flat surface to sleep. Our advice is that the safest place for your baby to sleep – both during the day for naps and during the night – is in a cot or Moses basket in a room with you for the first six months.

It is important to check on your baby regularly when they are asleep.

If your baby is being transported in a car, they should be carried in a properly designed and fitted car seat, facing backwards, and preferably be in sight of an adult. Be careful that your baby doesn’t get too hot and remove hats and outdoor coats when you get in the car.

On long car journeys, stop for breaks so your baby is not in the car seat for prolonged periods (some manufacturers recommend a maximum period of 2 hours in car seats).

Premature babies who may slump need particular care when travelling in a car seat.

Ask your car seat manufacturer if they have any safety advice about the specific model you are using.

Swaddling your baby

Some believe swaddling young babies can help them settle to sleep. Whilst we do not advise for or against swaddling, we do urge parents to follow the advice below.

If you decide to adopt swaddling, this should be done for each day and night time sleep as part of a regular routine:

  • Use thin materials
  • Do not swaddle above the shoulders
  • Never put a swaddled baby to sleep on their front
  • Do not swaddle too tight
  • Check the baby’s temperature to ensure they do not get too hot

Using slings and baby-carriers

Slings and baby-carriers are useful for holding a baby hands-free, however they are not always used safely. Although there is no reliable evidence that slings are directly associated with SIDS, there have been a number of deaths worldwide where infants have suffered a fatal accident from the use of a sling. These accidents are particularly due to suffocation, and particularly in young infants.

The risk appears to be greatest when a baby’s airway is obstructed either by their chin resting on their chest or their mouth and nose being covered by a parent’s skin or clothing.

The safest baby carrier to use will keep the infant firmly in an upright position where a parent can always see their baby’s face, and ensure their airways are free. Complete guidance is available by visiting The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

A clear cot is a safe cot

Babies are at higher risk of SIDS if they have their heads covered, so it is safest to keep baby’s cot clear of any items such as bumpers, toys and loose bedding. Unnecessary items in a baby’s cot can also increase the risk of accidents.

Babies need just a few basic items for sleep: a firm flat surface and some bedding.

New parents now have a massive range of baby products to choose from and it can be really confusing to know what is needed. The Lullaby Trust advice is simple: the safest cot is a clear cot.

The Lullaby Trust advice on choosing sleeping products for your baby

There is evidence to suggest that babies are at higher risk of SIDS if they have their heads covered and some items added to a cot may increase the risk of head-covering. Unnecessary items in a baby’s cot can also increase the risk of accidents.

While evidence on individual items is not widely available, it makes sense to be as cautious as possible.

We therefore recommend babies are slept in cots or Moses baskets that are kept as clear as possible and specifically advise:

  • No pillows or duvets;
  • No cot bumpers;
  • No soft toys;
  • No loose bedding;
  • No products (such as wedges or straps) that will keep your baby in one sleeping position.

Read more advice on how to choose sleeping products here.

No product can reduce the risk of SIDS

We cannot comment on individual products, but would advise parents to read the safety advice when making choices. Sadly there is no product that can reduce the chance of SIDS and we would advise parents to be cautious about any product that makes such a claim.

We also encourage parents to check that any product they buy has passed the necessary safety checks and follow the manufacturer’s care instructions that come with the product.

Reducing the risk of SIDS for premature babies

Babies who are born prematurely (before 37 weeks) or of low birth weight (under 2.5kgs) are particularly vulnerable and it is important that all the safe sleep advice is followed. Premature babies are sometimes slept on their front in hospital for special medical reasons. When they are getting ready to go home these babies should always sleep on their back to reduce the risk of sudden infant death.

For professionals we have a leaflet Time to Get Back to Sleep, which highlights the importance of back-sleeping, and addresses commonly asked questions on sleep position for these vulnerable babies.

To order these publications call 020 7802 3200.

What is sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)?

The sudden and unexpected death of a baby is usually referred to by professionals as ‘sudden unexpected death in infancy’ (SUDI) or ‘sudden unexpected death in childhood’ (SUDC), if the baby was over 12 months old. The death of a baby which is unexpected is also sometimes referred to as ‘sudden infant death’.

Some sudden and unexpected deaths can be explained by the post-mortem examination, revealing, for example, an unforeseen infection or metabolic disorder. Deaths that remain unexplained after the post-mortem are usually registered as ‘sudden infant death syndrome’ (SIDS) or SUDC in a child over 12 months. Sometimes other terms such as SUDI or ‘unascertained’ may be used.

While SIDS is rare, it can still happen and there are steps you can take to help reduce the risk for your baby.

What causes SIDS?

We do not know what causes SIDS. For many babies it is likely that a combination of factors affect them at a vulnerable stage of their development, which leads them to die suddenly and unexpectedly.

However, we do know you can significantly reduce the chance of SIDS occurring by following safer sleep advice.

What age babies are most at risk of SIDS? When does the risk decrease?

Around 89% of SIDS deaths happen when a baby is six months old or less.

To reduce the risk of SIDS for your baby, follow our evidence-based safer sleep advice –such as sleeping your baby on their back in a clear cot or Moses basket – for the first six months.

After this time, the risk is reduced, however SIDS can still happen so it is best to continue the safer sleep routines you have built up over time.

Does SIDS have any symptoms?

There is currently no evidence to suggest that any babies who have died from SIDS had any previous symptoms.

However, researchers around the world are currently engaged in a number of research projects that aim to find the underlying cause of SIDS and any factors that might suggest that a baby is at a higher risk. The conclusions of this research may lead to doctors being able to identify whether a baby is at a higher risk, and they could then work with the parents to decrease the risk for that baby.

Why don’t we use the term ‘cot death’?

‘Cot death’ was a term commonly used in the past to describe the sudden and unexpected death of an infant. It has largely been abandoned, due to its misleading suggestions that sudden infant death can only occur when a baby is asleep in their own cot, which we know to be untrue.

Is SIDS very common?

While SIDS is comparatively rare – 216 babies died of SIDS in the UK in 2015 – it can still happen and there are steps you can take to help reduce the chance of it occurring.

Can SIDS be prevented? What are the biggest risk factors?

While SIDS cannot be completely prevented, you can reduce the risks of it occurring considerably by following our safer sleep advice. For example:

  • Sleep your baby on their back for all sleeps – day and night – as this can reduce the risk of SIDS by six times compared to sleeping them on their front.
  • Share a room with your baby for the first six months – this can halve the risk of SIDS.
  • Keep your baby smoke-free during pregnancy and after birth – this is one of the most protective things you can do for your baby. Around 60% of sudden infant deaths could be avoided if no baby was exposed to smoke during pregnancy or around the home.
  • Never sleep on a sofa or armchair with your baby as this can increase the risk of SIDS by 50 times.
  • Do not co-sleep with your baby if you or your partner has been drinking, is a smoker, has been taking drugs or is extremely tired; these factors can put babies at an extremely high risk of SIDS when co-sleeping. One study found that the risk of SIDS when co-sleeping is six times higher in smokers than in non-smokers.

The above is especially important for babies who were born premature or of low birth weight, as these babies are at a higher risk of SIDS.

I’m worried about the risk of SIDS for my baby. Who can I speak to?

Our support team are here to answer your questions about SIDS or safer sleep for babies. You can ring our information line on 0808 802 6869 or email info@lullabytrust.org.uk.

You can also talk to your midwife or health visitor if you have any questions or concerns.

What research is being done to find out the cause of SIDS?

This is why research into the risk factors and causes of SIDS is needed and why we have been funding cutting-edge research into the causes and risk factors of SIDS since 1971.

If the cause of SIDS was found, health professionals might be able to identify which babies are most at risk and work with their parents and families to ensure they can reduce the risk factors as much as possible.

What can I do if I or someone I love has lost a baby to SIDS?

If your child has died, or someone close to you is bereaved, we are so sorry and we are here to offer our support.

Our confidential support services are here for anyone affected by the sudden and unexpected death of a baby or young child, whether the death was recent or many years ago. You can call our bereavement support helpline on 0808 802 6868 or email support@lullabytrust.org.uk. Find out more about how we can support you here.

Safe Sleep for Babies - Winter Advice Booklet

Your Lewisham Health Visiting Service +

There is a lot of information available for parents and this can sometimes feel overwhelming. We have provided a few useful links below in addition to those mentioned above, which will take you to helpful and practice advice, information as well as give you access to contact details for support.

Lewisham Health Visitors

There are five key stages in your child’s development when you will be contacted by your health visitor. These appointments will be in a mixture of locations, some contacts at home, clinic, or a virtual appointment using Attend Anywhere.

  1. Before your baby is born (when you are around 30 weeks’ pregnant)
  2. New birth visit – between days eight and 14
  3. Six to eight week visit
  4. Seven to 12 month developmental review
  5. Two to two and a half years developmental review

Each health visiting team runs a child health clinic, which you can attend with your under five’s for advice, support and weighing. You do need to make an appointment to attend the child health clinics. Please call your HV team to book in.  These are held in a variety of venues including GP practices and children’s centres.

Throughout your journey with your health visiting team you will have contact with:

  • Health Visitor
  • Health Visitor Assistant Practitioners
  • Support Workers

Some of our health visitors have undergone further training to become specialist practice teachers. This means they help to educate student health visitors. You will be informed if a student health visitor is joining the visit.

Safeguarding children is an integral part of a health visitor’s role and we work closely with our colleagues from children’s social care, GP practices and voluntary services in order to support families.

If English is not your first language, or if your hearing or vision is compromised, your health visitor has access to a pre-arranged interpreting service.

The Lewisham Health Visitors website hosts up-to-date information and advice on a number of key areas such as:-

    • Feeding your baby
    • Vitamins and Healthy Start
    • Jaundice
    • Vacinations
    • Child Development
    • Safe Sleeping
    • Parental Mental Health
    • Accident Prevention
    • Dental Health
    • Baby Hubs
    • Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)
    • Domestic Abuse
    • Female Genital Mutilation
    • Teenage Parents
    • MECSH Programme
    • Minor Ailments
    • Family Health
    • Lewisham Children & Family Centres
    • E-Redbook

Useful Links +

  • Lullaby Trust Safe Sleep for Babies Winter Booklet
    Cry-sis started as a small group of parents, who were experiencing problems with their crying and sleepless babies and set up a support group. They discovered how important support is and how reassuring it can be to talk to someone. Today that support group is the only UK charity offering help and support to parents with babies who cry excessively or have sleeping problems. The Cry-sis website has lots of helpful information and advice for mums, dads and carers. Cry-sis have a helpline which is open 7 days a week between 9am and 10pm: 08451 228 669

  • The NHS Baby Buddy app guides you through your pregnancy and the first 6 months following your baby's birth. It is designed to help you look after your baby's mental and physical health, as well as your own, and give your baby the best start in life.

  • The NSPCC Baby Parenting Tips webpage has information and advice from getting babies to sleep, to managing stress. The page has tips and advice to help you through the early years.

Resources for parents who may need support or equipment for their baby +

  1. Parents who need extra support can obtain a free thermometer from their Midwife.
  2. The Lewisham Donation Hub, Unit D Place Ladywell, 261 Lewisham High Street, SE13 6AY Lewisham Donation Hub – Supporting our community since 2020
  3. Little Village. the referral must be made by a person who is working with you Home - Little Village (littlevillagehq.org)
  4. Apply to BBC Children in Need fund Grants - BBC Children in Need
  5. Home - Buttle UK

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Questioning Support

METRO Charity is a leading equality and diversity charity, providing health, community, and youth services across London and the South East, with national and International projects.  METRO Youth works with anyone experiencing issues around sexuality, gender, equality, diversity, and identity across our five domains:

  1. Sexual & Reproductive Health
  2. Community
  3. Mental Health & Wellbeing
  4. Youth
  5. HIV

METRO Youth offer a free and confidential youth group and service for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and questioning (LGBTQ) young people.

Zest - 16 years and under - Friday evenings, 4:30pm to 6:30pm, Greenwich

Zest is a free and confidential youth group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans & questioning (LGBTQ) young people under 16 in South East London. The group meets every Friday after school. Zest is a friendly & safe space to meet other LGBTQ young people, get support and enjoy fun activities, trips out and workshops about things that interest you.

Click-through link here: https://metrocharity.org.uk/youth/metro-zest

Zest Flyer

Live - 16 - 25 years - Wednesday evenings, 6:30pm to 8:30pm, New Cross

LiVE is a free and confidential youth group and service for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, & questioning (LGBTQ) young people in Lewisham aged 16-25. It’s a friendly and safe place to meet other young LGBTQ people. We run fun activities, trips out and workshops about things that interest you. LiVE is a free and confidential place to get support from dedicated and experienced youth workers.

We offer access to a range of other free services. Click-through link here: https://metrocharity.org.uk/youth/metro-live

Live Flyer

Get in Touch

Telephone:   020 8305 5004

Email:           youth@metrocharity.org.uk

Facebook:    METRO Charity

Website:      https://www.metrocentreonline.org/ 

Online Safety

The internet is a great way for children and young people to connect with others and learn new things. It’s important that they learn how to do this safely.  This video highlights a social experiment “Follow me” by Barnardos.  We want to help you keep your child safe online just like you do in the real world.


The internet is a great way to connect with others and learn new things. It’s important you know how to stay safe and keep others safe online.
Top Tips for Staying Safe Online for Children & Young People

 feet iconBe careful what photos and video’s you post online or share with a “boyfriend or girlfriend”.  It can be difficult to control who can see them and how they will be shared, you may not want it to go viral!  Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your teachers or parents to see.  Taking, making, sharing and possessing indecent images and pseudo-photographs of people under 18 is illegal and you could be prosecuted.  A pseudo-photo is an image made by graphics or art which appears to be a photo. This can include, photo’s, video’s, tracings, and anything that can be converted into a photo.  You can read the full “Indecent Images of children: guidance for young people here 

feet iconBe careful who you talk to.  Someone might not be who they say they are.  Friends you make on-line are still strangers, even if you’ve been talking to them for a long time.  You can say no and/or log out of your computer.  Don’t meet up with friends you make online unless you’ve talked it through with an adult you trust first and they can help you stay safe. 

feet iconDon’t be afraid to block someone.  You don’t have to put up with bullying or seeing anything that you find upsetting.  Report it to the site administrator and talk to an adult you trust.  Remember you can choose to close the App or Website at any time.

feet iconAlways put the privacy settings on and don’t share personal information, including details like your date of birth, home address, email address, phone number, passwords or any other information that may be useful to someone who wants to bully or hurt you.

feet iconThink about how you’re feeling before you go online, could someone be offended or upset by what you’re saying or posting?  You may say something you regret later on and damage your reputation.   Your digital footprint will last forever, even if you have deleted something from your device or profile it may still be visible to other people on other networks.  It has been known for young people to find their college and / or job applications be affected by something they posted online.

feet iconUnfortunately, there are people who go online to bully others or get them to do things that could be illegal or harmful to you or others.  If you are bullied or are worried about anything you see, hear, or are asked to do something either online or in the real world, tell a parent or another trusted adult, like your teacher, or contact Junior Crimestoppers @ www.fearless.org .  Preserve evidence by saving or taking a screen shot of the message or material and report it to the site administrator – all sites have a no blame culture with children and young people.  You do not have to do anything you don’t want to or anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. 

feet iconIf you see something on a social network site, a website, or someone tries to draw you into extremist or radicalised views, you can get help by contacting the Prevent Team, prevent@lewisham.gov.uk.

feet iconWe recommend you keep your knowledge and skills of staying safe in a digital world up-to-date by regularly looking at the ThinkUKnow website, however there are some other good sites you may also like to look at:-

Top Tips for Parents and Carers of Children & Young People in The Digital World

footprintsTo help your child to enjoy the experience of accessing the digital world we recommend you talk to your child about keeping themselves safe and what to do if they see or hear something that they find upsetting, like taking a screen shot of the evidence and reporting concerns to the site administrator, or the police via www.ceop.police.uk .  Remind them they can close the App or website at any time, and most importantly to talk to you if they are worried or upset.

footprintsWeb based information and social networking sites can increase the risk of a child or young person being groomed for sexual exploitation, criminal activity, general exploitation, or violent extremism.   It is common for the child or young person to not recognise they are being exploited or groomed.  The best way to make sure they stay safe is to have regular, open conversations with your child.  You can also look through the history browser to see what websites have been accessed.  If you do become worried that your child is being radicalised you can contact the Prevent Team, on 020 8314 6000 or email prevent@lewisham.gov.uk.  You can also report any other exploitation or abuse that takes place online the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub on 020 8314 6660 or email mashagency@lewisham.gov.uk.

footprintsSometimes children and young people don’t think about the images they post online or share with their “boyfriend” or “girlfriend”.  In response to this, the government have issued guidance for children and young people on the sharing of indecent images, this can be read here:


footprintsOnline gaming via consoles, phones, and apps can provide a child access to talking to strangers and building “virtual friendships”.  It is important your child understands it can be dangerous to share personal information as the person may not be who they say they are.  Have a conversation with your child about this, particularly in case your child considers meeting up with someone they have spoken to online.  If you do agree to this, we recommend you meet with them too, as they may not be who they say they are and it could lead to your child being harmed.

footprintsWhen considering buying a game or app for your child, think about the recommended age restriction and research the game on YouTube first.  You may be surprised at the level of violence or content of some games and it may not be appropriate for your child’s age.

footprintsWe recommend you keep your knowledge and skills of staying safe in a digital world up-to-date and by regularly by looking at the ThinkUKnow website: https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/ and talking to your child about their experiences.

NSPCC On-line Safety has advice and tools to help keep your child safe online.

Think You Know provides advice on online parenting.  There is also further information at Think You Know training.

Child Exploitation & Online Protection (CEOP)

CEOPCEOP is there to support young people, parents and carers while surfing online, and offers help and advice on topics such as:

  • cyberbullying
  • hacking
  • harmful content

It also enables people to immediately report anything online which they find concerning, such as harmful or inappropriate content, or possible grooming behaviour. For more information, or to report concerns, simply click on the CEOP Icon

Private Fostering

Private fostering is when a child or young person aged under 16 (or under 18 if they are disabled) is cared for and provided with accommodation for 28 days or more by an adult who is not a close relative.

A close relative is an aunt, uncle, step parent, grandparent or sibling, but not a cousin, great aunt/uncle or family friend.

A private fostering arrangement is normally organised between the parent and carer. There are many private fostering situations. These may involve children or young people:

  • who are sent to this country for education or health care by their birth parents from overseas
  • whose parents work or study long or antisocial hours
  • who are living with a friend’s family as a result of parental separation, divorce or arguments at home
  • who are living with their partner’s family.

What do I have to do if I am privately fostering or my child is privately fostered?

Any parent, private foster carer, or anyone else involved in making a private fostering arrangement, must notify the council for the area in which the child will be or is placed.

You have a responsibility to ensure that your child is in a suitable and safe private fostering arrangement that provides for your child’s cultural, religious, linguistic and other needs.

If you think that your child will be in this placement for 28 days or longer, you have a legal duty to tell the Council at least six weeks before the arrangement is due to start. If the arrangement is due to start within six weeks or is already in place, then you must tell the MASH team at the Council immediately.

The law states that you must tell us of a private fostering arrangement, this information will help us ensure that your child is well looked after and does not come to any harm.

A private fostering arrangement does not mean that you are giving up your rights to your child. This is a temporary arrangement and you still have parental responsibility and will continue to be involved in all decisions about your child’s life. It is very important that you stay in contact with your child as much as possible. By staying in contact, you will know of any changes in the circumstances of the carer (for example if they go on holiday or move house).

What if I already privately foster but did not know that it I had to tell the Council?

You should contact us and explain the situation. We will be pleased to take your details and explain the first stage of the assessment process. Please remember that if you are involved in a private fostering arrangement and you don’t notify us you are committing an offence, and could risk a fine.

If you are involved, or likely to be involved in a private fostering arrangement and have not already told, or if you are in any doubt as to whether the regulations might apply to you, you should seek advice from the Lewisham MASH team.

Why does the Council need to get involved?

We have a legal duty to ensure that your child is being looked after safely and that the arrangement is suitable for your child. We will make regular visits to your child and his or her private foster carer, and we can provide help and advice where necessary.

If the private foster carer is not giving you enough information or you are unhappy about the standard of care your child is receiving, then you should contact us as soon as possible. Together we will do our best to ensure that your child is safe and well looked after.


Phone Lewisham MASH team on telephone number 020 8314 9181 or 020 8314 6660 or by email mashagency@lewisham.gov.uk

Private fostering referral and assessment team telephone number 020 8314 6523


Private Fostering Fact Sheet

Is Someone Else Looking After Your Child?

Are You Looking After Someone Else's Child?

Who is Looking After You?




Feelings, Self-harm & Suicide Ideation


Talking about feelings can be tricky. Emotions are often messy and difficult to deal with, especially when you’re young or feeling vulnerable. But they don’t need to be a stressful part of our lives and we learn to manage them well.

By developing our ability to be resilient, and sharing this knowledge with others, we can boost all our chances of living happier, healthier lives.

It’s time to break the silence surrounding mental illness, crush taboos and get young people in Lewisham feeling good about themselves and energised by life.

Kooth  is an online counselling and emotional well-being platform for children and young people aged 11+.  It  is accessible through mobile, tablet and desktop and free at the point of use.

Self-Harm & Suicide Ideation in Children & Young People

Mental health problems affect around one in 10 children and young people . This includes depression, anxiety, and conduct disorder, and are often a direct response to what is happening in their lives.

Self-harm is when someone hurts themselves on purpose and is a way of expressing deep distress, a way of communicating what cannot be put into words, with very difficult feelings that could build up inside. It is not attention seeking behaviour.

Self-Harm is a very common behaviour in young people and affects around one in 12 young people.  

Warning signs of Self-Harm

  • People who self-harm may suffer mood swings and become withdrawn.
  • Unexplained wounds.
  • Have a lack of motivation.
  • There may be changes in their eating habits.
  • They may cover up their body (even in warm weather).

Warning signs of Suicide Ideation

They may be:

  • Quiet, brooding, or withdrawn.
  • Feeling exhausted and distant.
  • Feeling cut off from those around them.
  • Not making eye contact.
  • Agitated, irritable or rude.
  • Talking about suicide or saying it’s all hopeless.
  • Desperate for help but afraid to ask.

They may also:

  • Be busy, chirpy, laughing and joking, talking about future plans, and telling you not to worry about them.

The safest way to know if someone is thinking about suicide is to ask them. If a person is suicidal the idea is already there. If they aren’t suicidal it won’t do any harm. Saying something is safer than saying nothing.

Risk Factors of Self-Harm & Suicide Ideation

  • Stressful life events.
  • Isolation.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • On-going family relationship problems.
  • Being bullied at school.
  • Bereavement.
  • Mental health problems – depression and delusional thoughts.
  • Substance and alcohol misuse.
  • Family circumstances.
  • Stress and worry – academic pressure.
  • Experience of abuse – physical, emotional, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, and forced marriage.
  • Feelings of being rejected in their lives.

 Types of Self-Harm

  • Cutting of the skin with objects (e.g. razor blades, scissors, pens, bottle tops etc.)
  • Scratching the skin.
  • Picking wounds or interfering with healing.
  • Burning.
  • Ingesting toxic substances.
  • Excessive drug or alcohol intake.
  • Hitting or punching themselves.
  • Head banging or biting themselves.
  • Pulling hair out.
  • Swallowing or inserting objects.
  • Taking an overdose.
  • Staying in an abusive relationship.
  • Taking risks too easily.
  • Restricting their eating.Young people can self-harm in a variety of body locations, i.e. arms, legs, abdomen, etc.

Responding to Self-Harm in Lewisham

If a child or young person overdoses or there is a serious self-harm incidence they should be taken to A&E in the first instance. An assessment will be undertaken which may involve a referral to the Children & Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS).

If you become aware of a young person who is self-harming or having suicidal thoughts. Explore their feelings with them and talk about the help available:-

Share what you know with the child’s parents / carers.


Coping with Self-Harm

Guide for anyone working with children and young people.

Calm Harm App.


  • Young Minds
    • Parents Helpline 0808 802 55 44
    • Advice for professionals

  • GP – Make an appointment to talk about your concerns.  Your child may need some support from the Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS)
  • Kooth
    • Online chat support for young people
  • Papyrus Hopeline 0800 068 41 41
    • Confidential advice for young people
    • Advice for parents / carers.
    • Advice for professionals

  • ChildLine – 0800 11 11
    • Confidential advice for young people
    • Advice for professionals

  • Place2Be
    • Individual one to one, drop in counselling for children and young people experiencing emotional wellbeing issues at 10 schools in Lewisham.
  • National Self-Harm Network
    • UK charity offering moderated support forum for self-harm
  • NHS Choices - Moodzone
    • Online and audio resources to improve mental wellbeing and information about available treatments
  • MindEd
    • Online training for anyone working with 0-18 year olds


Sexual Exploitation

Sexual exploitation can be hard to recognise because you often believe you’re in a good relationship with the person, or people, who want to abuse your trust in them. It could be a friend, or a group of friends. It could be someone you think of as a boyfriend or girlfriend. It could be a person or a new group of people you’ve only just got to know. It could be someone you’ve talked to online. But whoever it is, they could use clever ways to take advantage of your relationship – and that means you can be harmed almost before you know what’s going on.

For example, someone might give you money, drugs, alcohol, gifts or somewhere to stay and then force you to do one or more of these things in return:

  • have sex with them
  • do something sexual to them
  • be touched inappropriately, in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable
  • look at sexual images – including films or pictures
  • watch them do something sexual, including having sex or touching themselves sexually

That’s why it’s so important to look out for the warning signs in someone’s behaviour. So be aware, stay alert and keep safe.

What to do if you are worried about yourself or a friend

If you are worried about a situation that you or a friend is in, talk to an adult that you trust as soon as you can. You may also want to contact ChildLine on 0800 1111 or their website https://www.childline.org.uk/searchpage/?query.

If you, or a friend, are in immediate danger or want urgent help, call the police on 999.

Use our top tips to protect yourself from exploitation.

Three top tips to keep safe

  1. Trust yourself to know when something is wrong.
  2. If someone makes you feel unsafe, pressured or frightened, follow your instincts and seek help.
  3. Don’t trust people you don’t know, even if they seem friendly – and make sure you know who you are talking to online. Never give away personal details or agree to meet someone who you have only talked to online. Don’t be tricked into doing things that are unsafe, even if they seem like fun. What might look exciting at first could be more dangerous than you realise.


People trafficking is the movement of people from one area to another by use of force or threat for the purpose of some form of exploitation.

Examples of exploitation could be forcing a young person to have sex, forcing them into marriage, forcing the young person to work in horrible conditions or forcing them to carry out a crime.

Traffickers can be male and female and control young people by threatening to report them to the authorities, telling them they owe large sums of money, or by threats of violence to them or their families.

Signs of Trafficking:

Could this be you or a friend?

  • Do you go missing from home?
  • Are you prevented from going outside or locked in?
  • Are you not allowed to go to school or college?
  • Are you forced to earn a certain amount of money each day?
  • Do you have an excessive amount of chores to do at home?
  • Do you have a bad relationship with your parents or carers?
  • Are you told you have a large debt to pay back?
  • Are you afraid of being sent away from the UK?

Where to get help?

If you recognise any of these signs then you need to get help by calling the telephone numbers below:

Police – 101 or 999 in an emergency

Child Line 0800 1111

NSPCC 24 hour Child Protection helpline 0808 800 5000

Worried about the safety of a child?

If you think a child is being abused or neglected please contact the Lewisham Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH). If you think a child or young person is at IMMEDIATE risk, you should treat this as an emergency and call 999 to report your concerns to the Police. You can contact the MASH during office hours on 020 8314 6660.  The out of office hours (5pm -9am weekdays, weekends and Bank Holidays) is: 020 8314 6000 and ask for the emergency duty team.

When you contact the MASH please give as much information as possible about the child you are concerned about. This will help MASH decide the best way to respond to your concern. The information you give will be kept confidential. You can remain anonymous but it is helpful if you can give your name and details.

MASH is the service to contact if you want extra help for a child or their family who live in Lewisham. The team is multi-agency and brings together services such as from social care, education, health, police and children centres. The MASH aims to work together to offer the right help at an early stage to families who need support.  They will decide the most appropriate type of support to offer. Depending on your relationship with the child they may be able to keep you updated.

Child Exploitation & On-line Protection

CEOP is there to support young people, parents and carers while surfing online, and offers help and advice on topics such as:

  • cyberbullying
  • hacking
  • harmful content

It also enables people to immediately report anything online which they find concerning, such as harmful or inappropriate content, or possible grooming behaviour.

For more information or to report a concern click on the CEOP icon


Young Carers in Lewisham

A young carer is a young person aged 18 or under who looks after a mum, dad, brother, sister or other relative who is disabled, ill, has mental ill health or a problem with drugs or alcohol. Most young carers look after one of their parents or care for a brother or sister.

If you are a young carer there is support available for you. 

Imago is a charity that supports local communities.  One of the groups that they support is carers.   They support over 12,000 carers through services, including over 8,000 young carers from the age of 4, young adult carers and adult carers.

Imago offers the Maximising Wellbeing for Unpaid Carers service to young carers in Lewisham that are taking on caring responsibilities for a family member with a long-term illness, disability, mental health or substance misuse issue. Young Carers support the cared-for and other family members with practical tasks, physical care, and emotional support, whilst at the same time trying to live their own lives. They support young carers in Lewisham to minimise the negative impacts of caring and to access social and educational opportunities and emotional support, highlighting the positive impacts of being a carer, such as increased resilience and empathy.

Young carers can access a variety of activities, workshops and respite trips. The service also includes one-to-one support and in school support when needed.  Working alongside school staff and other professionals, they aim to ensure young carers have access to the support they need and know they are not alone.

The Maximising Wellbeing for Unpaid Carers service works with schools, communities, and statutory and voluntary agencies to identify hidden Young Carers and offers training and information to professionals.

To complete an online referral go to https://www.imago.community/Carers/lewishamcarers

For more information contact the hub on 0300 373 5769 or email ucwellbeing@imago.community.

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