Imagine What We Can Do In 2021 – Kenny Gibson

What can one say about 2020? It was the year that was… extra-ordinary in creating a new normal.

Here are some of my own reflections:

  • There is more to the Covid frontline than ventilators, hazmat suits and PPE in ITUs – we also need the superpower cape of safeguarding system leadership in every home; every community service, every outreach provider and every care home.
  • Anyone of us could be living in a pressure cooker home in lockdown – I’ve certainly had my own moments where my resilience and fortitude has been tested.
  • We can each do anything but not everything.
  • Staff need presence not necessarily presents.
  • Listening lounges need to be established which will improve our personal and professional resilience – remember silent and listen have the same letters for a reason.
  • Restorative supervision and adaptive dialogues need to underpin our new normal practices.
  • Safeguarding colleagues cannot be in everyone’s home during those trauma moments and so we need trusted partners and peer support and advocacy services and helplines.
  • Safeguarding system leaders at all levels need to speak truth to power; even if our voice shakes.
  • Everyone needs to believe that black lives matter – they really, really do. It is not good enough to be silent & complicit in our white privilege. We must call out racism & prejudices since these are the bedrock of inequalities across our society.
  • We need to check and challenge our harmful social norms and our own unconscious bias.
  • Everyone needs to be professionally curious towards confidential enquiry:
    • How safe do you feel at home?
    • What is your journey?
    • What do you need to happen?

My most used infographic related to my, your and our own resilience in adversity:


Together, we also kept the show on the road by collaboratively co-creating:

  • a bolder NHS Standard Contract;
  • a brave NHS Safeguarding Covid recovery and restoration plan;
  • a roll-out of CPIS bar-one Local Authority;
  • a new safeguarding commissioning toolkit;
  • fabulous contextual safeguarding dynamic dashboard to support space & place collaboratives;
  • a revised MAST and refreshed NHS SAfeguarding App with 25 trusted partners to profile lived-experience and make us more trauma-informed;
  • a Covid safeguarding partnership recovery & restoration plan;
  • a seminal equality impact assessment;
  • a collection of quarterly lunch-&-learn sessions led by lived-experience and supported by subject matter experts which had circa 10,000 attendees and a social movement reach of over 13.4 million;
  • a range of rapid reads and blueprints which are now used across partners;
  • a supportive package for Covid swab testing sites, Track and test, NHS Volunteers & mass vaccinations

And still we have found time to listen, believe and do something to reshape safeguarding towards being more about human rights.

Together we have safeguarded all citizens and together we have saved lives.


Imagine what we can do in 2021.

Huge thanks for all you do; look after yourself


Kenny Gibson

National Head of Safeguarding

NHS England and NHS Improvement