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‘Learnable’: A new blog by Jacqui Wilkinson, Training, Safeguarding and Quality Standards Development Officer


Lessons from Meerkats

Hello and welcome to ‘Learnable’. This is my first monthly blog for CAS and I am really excited to do this. There is always something we can learn. Often we can learn from the most unlikely things, if we take the time to think and to be ‘learnable’.

I’m Jacqui Wilkinson and some of you may be aware that I write the Training and Events Newsletter. The introduction to the Training and Events Newsletter has taken on a life of its own and has attracted some lovely interest and followers. This last year I have shared my lessons from trees, deer and geese to name a few. So, we decided it may be better as a blog than an introduction to a newsletter. I hope you enjoy the blog and find that you are ‘learnable’ too.

This is National Safeguarding Adults week and I have been thinking about the safeguarding element of my role a lot recently and how important it is that we all play our part in keeping people and our communities safer. We all have a role to play and without trivialising a difficult subject I thought that we could learn a thing or two from Meerkats.

Lesson 1: Community

Individually, Meerkats are pretty much defenseless. They aren’t big or strong, weighing less than a kilogram. How do they survive and thrive in a world of eagles and jackals?

Answer. Cooperation, teamwork, community. They learn and work together. They share the duties. Together they are strong. Think family, a big extended family or community.

One will stand guard watching for threats, so everyone else can bask in the sun or dig for food,  safe in the knowledge that one of their community are looking out for their safety.

To help keep our community safe we can’t always be alone on sentry duty, looking out for threats. If everyone did their turn on ‘lookout’ duty we could spread the safety net and responsibilities wider. We all need to know what to look out for, how to recognise and communicate threats. If we see safeguarding concerns we need to be able to See it. Recognise it. Report it.

Lesson 2: Conversation

The meerkat on sentry duty chatters away keeping the rest of the group informed. Meerkats have around 30 different calls. They have a low, peeping sound when all is safe, called the Watchmans Song, it could be a great title of a Bruce Springsteen album. When there is a threat the sentry will bark or whistle.

They know what to say, who to tell and when. If you are concerned about someone ask yourself the question ‘Are they safe?’ Ask someone you are worried about ‘’Are you safe?’ Your conversations could help recognise and report abuse. It could even stop abuse.

Remember there is strength in community, in being alert and curious, sharing your concerns and knowing how to… See it. Recognise it. Report it.

Be on the lookout for your community and for our safeguarding training and safeguarding resources.