I suspect your answer today might be significantly different from how you may have replied had I asked you the same question a few weeks ago, mine too and, before I go on, this blog is not about the tragic murder of Sarah Everard although it has been written as a direct consequence. I think it's also important to point out before I go any further, thankfully the kidnap and murder of women in the UK is still rare.
This is not a blog to frighten anyone, it’s my attempt to remind you to just take a moment, consider your personal safety and take any steps necessary to adjust your behaviours should you consider it necessary.
There’s a lot to think about, personal safety is a huge topic, and I am not going to attempt to cover everything here. I want to trigger self-awareness especially among you, our nanny community.
I’ve chosen 4 areas
Using public transport safely
You may think lone working isn’t an issue, you work with children, right? However, even though many of our employers are currently working from home, our usual work situation is that we do not work alongside other adults, often in a house alone with children and many of those houses will be in isolated locations.
The basic precautionary measures to take:
Once your employer(s) have left for work, lock the front and back doors. Windows should only ever be open with child safety catches on and therefore can’t be opened from outside in any case
Ask your employer(s) to always let you know when they are expecting a delivery and who by: Amazon / Parcel Force etc
Try to avoid strict daily / weekly routines, mix it up a bit. Obviously, school runs, swimming lessons, drama classes, and so on are likely to be scheduled for the same day and time each week but be mindful to do other things a little randomly so that your activities are not predictable
Any outings you have scheduled make sure you let your employer(s) know beforehand. I’m aware of some nannies who will tell their employer(s) of their activities after the event, but I’d advise you to tell them of your plans that morning or, if it’s a last-minute excursion, you quickly call them or drop them a text. Let them know where you are going, who else is joining you, and when you expect to be back.
Become aware of your employer(s) callers/visitors, be observant, and accept no cold callers. If someone turns up unexpectedly to trim the hedges, for example, turn them away until you can check with your employer(s) that this service was arranged.
I’m writing this with work in mind and therefore, what I mean here is when you are going to and from work. I’m also thinking about when driving as well as walking.
Whether walking or driving, always try to use populated, well-lit streets
Make sure someone else knows your plans. Let your parents, partner, a friend know which days you work, your usual working hours, and, importantly, where you work
Don’t forget to always let someone else know when you are running late. This also serves as an alarm should it ever happen that you don’t appear when expected
Avoid walking in deserted areas and avoid shortcuts. If you do not drive and your employer(s) requires you to work late / babysit, make it a condition that they include a taxi to get you home
Never accept a lift from strangers
Ensure your phone is fully charged when you are out
Park your car in a well-lit area and double-check you’ve locked it before leaving it. On return, always take a look inside, check back seats and footwell before getting in
Never stop for anyone flagging you down or gesturing you pull over that there’s a problem with your car. Drive to the nearest petrol station or police station
If you suspect you are being followed, do not drive home, drive to friends or a police station
Have your keys in your hand before you reach your car or front door.
Using Public Transport
Familiarise yourself with all the bus routes available to you and opt for the one with bus stops nearest your destination
Plan your arrival at the bus stop no more than 5 or 6 minutes before the bus is due
Make sure you have the required bus fare before setting out
Sit downstairs, in view of the driver and near to the exit.
Only use reputable taxi companies. Private hire taxis must be booked either at their office or by phone
All legal taxi drivers must carry identification
Keep the number of a reliable taxi firm handy
Check that the taxi which arrives is the one you ordered
When booking your taxi, ask for a description of the car - colour, make, etc
If you gave your name when you booked, check that the driver can tell you it before you get in
When you reach your destination, ask the taxi driver to wait until you are safely indoors.
More and more nannies are seeking employment via social media and in particular, Facebook Groups. BAPN has not been shy about vocalising its concern in relation to such practice and we’re aware of how convincing these groups are, they maintain checks and measures are in place to protect nannies but very few days go by that we don’t hear about the appalling risks nannies are taking by using this route of job search. I make no apology when I say, with confidence, that the safest way to find nanny work is via a reputable nanny agency.
Please, if you are searching for work online, DO NOT:
Post your full name, address, or telephone number
Post a photo of yourself
Include any identifying features in your CV
Agree to an interview in a hotel room
Let someone else know when you are attending for interview (take a friend with you where possible)
Make sure someone else knows the time and location of the interview, the name of the interviewing family, and the contact details you’ve been given for the interviewing family
At the interview insist you meet the children you’ll be caring for.
I hope the above tips are useful to you. Common sense I know and you'll probably be adding others as you read this. I’ve not intended to comprehensively cover all relevant points. My intention is to get you thinking, self-reflecting, and taking measures to take care of yourself.
Finally, I’d like to inform you here, of ‘Safety Smartphone tips' as produced by BBC online:
“Useful phone features shared include those already built into many smartphones and popular apps, such as shortcuts to emergency call access and temporary location-tracking services.
Emergency call shortcuts
On most smartphones, the unlock screen will include an emergency call button without the need to unlock the device.
On some, pressing the on button and a volume key can also bring up a shortcut to 999.
On an iPhone 8 or above, continuing to hold these buttons down will sound an alert and start a countdown from three, and if the buttons remain pressed the call will be made automatically. iPhone users can also say the number 14 to the voice assistant Siri, which will then ask whether you want to make an emergency call - although in some countries it will connect straight away.
Emergency contacts can be set up via the iPhone health app - and the people you choose will be notified if an emergency call is made.
Google's safety app, available on its Pixel handsets, has a similar function.
Samsung's emergency mode is designed to prolong battery life while keeping the phone on standby. It limits features and the home screen is displayed as black but it enables emergency calls, calls to an emergency contact, and location-sharing within a message using minimal power.
There are a number of location tracker apps available to download, and they are popular - but not everybody wants to be tracked all the time.
WhatsApp users can choose a contact, hit the attachment button to the right of the text box, and select "location" - this will share the location of the device, only with the person they are messaging, for a certain period of time, ranging from 15 minutes to eight hours.
On an Android phone, if the emergency location service is switched on (it's within settings, under the location tab), the device will automatically share its location with the emergency services during a call." Source: BBC online.
How to summon help
It’s probably true that most of us know these numbers but I mention them here just in case:
999 – The main emergency number
This is the emergency number for police, ambulance, fire brigade, coastguard, cliff rescue, mountain rescue, cave rescue, etc. This number should only be used when urgent attendance by the emergency services is required – for example, someone is seriously ill or injured, or a serious crime is in progress.
112 – Another emergency number
This operates exactly the same as 999 and directs you to exactly the same emergency call centre. The important thing about 112 is that it will work on a mobile phone anywhere in the world. So on your next foreign holiday (whenever that might be), you won’t need to make a note of the emergency number for the country you visit; you just need 112. Incidentally, an EU requirement is that emergency call centres must provide a translation service. Brilliant!
101 – The non-emergency number for the police
Use 101 when you want to contact the police, but it’s not an emergency – i.e. an immediate response is not necessary and/or will not serve any purpose. For example, your car has been stolen, your property has been damaged, your home has been broken into. 101 can also be used to give information about a crime committed, or to contact the police with a general enquiry.
111 – The non-emergency medical number
This is available nationwide and replaced and expanded on the former NHS Direct service. Use this for illnesses and minor injuries where life isn’t threatened, but you would like some advice on what to do next.
I do hope this blog proves useful to you and urge you all to stay safe, stay alert, and let's take care of each other.
Senior Membership Ambassador