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Professor Carlene Firmin, Department of Sociology

We’ve appointed a leading expert in the safeguarding of young people at risk of abuse as a professor in our Department of Sociology.

At 37 Carlene Firmin, MBE, becomes one of the UK’s youngest ever female black professors.

Carlene, who will take up her role later this summer, is a pioneer of Contextual Safeguarding.

Her appointment will see Sociology at Durham become a hub for research into this practice and Carlene will continue to work with colleagues and partners to explore its influence on child protection policies internationally.

Young people’s experiences

The Contextual Safeguarding approach to child protection helps experts understand and respond to young people’s experiences of harm outside of their families including in peer groups, schools and local neighbourhoods.

Carlene’s work in this area has helped advance policy and research into the protection of adolescents in the UK and internationally, including Europe and Australia.

It has also led to changes in social care responses to abuse that takes place outside of families in England, Wales and Scotland.

Youth violence

In 2008 she received a London Peace Award for bridging the gap between policymakers and young people in responding to street-based violence.

In 2011 she was the youngest black woman to receive an MBE when she was presented with the honour by The Queen for raising the profile of women and girls impacted by serious youth violence in the UK.

And in 2020 she brought together the Contextual Safeguarding Academics Network to advance how harm beyond families is understood and responded to around the world.

Find out more

Picture credit: Francis Augusto