Know the signs and understand when you should speak to someone about a safeguarding concern

How you can help

Everyone has the right to live in safety, free from abuse and neglect. Abuse and neglect can occur anywhere: in your own home or a public place. Bystanders are often in a good position to raise safeguarding concerns but often feel least confident to do so.

It can be difficult to know what to do if you think an adult or a child is at risk. It’s important to remember that if you’ve spotted things that don’t seem right, others will have too. Speaking up can make sure that person or child gets help as soon as possible.

You may have contact with someone who you feel is being abused. They may be living alone or with others. The person causing the harm may be a stranger but, more often than not, is someone the person knows and feels safe with. They may be in a position of trust and power, such as a health or care professional, relative or neighbour.

Signs often appear differently in children compared to adults.

What signs should I look for?

Abuse is when someone does something to somebody which damages their quality of life or puts them at risk of harm. It may be deliberate or unintentional.

Abuse takes many forms. It includes:

Any form of harm such as:

  • hitting, injuring or restraining
  • threatening, intimidating or humiliating
  • sexual attention or activity that is not wanted
  • keeping someone on their own
  • any form of neglect such as:
  • not giving the correct medicine
  • not providing food or clothing
  • not arranging the right care

financial abuse such as:

  • stealing or misusing money or property
  • pressure about wills or inheritance

discrimination such as:

  • treating someone less favourably because of race, ethnicity, religion, age, gender, disability or sexual orientation

domestic violence and abuse

If you suspect any sort of abuse, please speak to one of our local safeguarding experts. We have them in all our hubs – just ask and they will guide you with next steps. 

If you live in Devon

You can also report your concerns direct to Devon County Council if you live in Devon or Dorset Council if you live in Dorset.

To report a concern in Devon please follows these steps:

If you suspect that an adult is being abused, or you are being abused yourself and live within Devon Local Authority boundaries, please make contact by:

  • Calling Adult social care on 0345 1551 007 (Monday to Thursday 9am to 5pm; Friday 9am to 4.30 pm and Saturday 9am to 5pm)
  • Outside of the hours above or on bank holidays call the Emergency Duty Service on 0345 6000 388 

Or you can email: 

If you live in Dorset

For Dorset you can submit your concern at this address:

or call 01305 221016

What types of abuse are there?

There are ten types of abuse, and we really like the way that they are covered in the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) website. These are:

Don’t forget. All our staff are trained in safeguarding and we have safeguarding experts in every setting. Just ask for a conversation if something that you have witnessed does not feel right. Don’t let your concerns stay with you. It’s always best to share your thoughts so that together we can keep everyone in our community safe.