Thousands of engineers and gas employees are to be given training to recognise signs of abuse and neglect so they can identify children at risk while they are working.
More than 18,000 workers across England, Scotland and Wales will be given safeguarding training in a new partnership between the NSPCC and Britain’s four Gas Distribution Networks (GDNs).
The children’s charity said almost 60,000 calls were made to its helpline last year from adults, including utility workers, reporting concerns about child safeguarding.
Workers who visit homes have a unique chance to make a difference, the NSPCC said.
The rollout of the training with GDN workers at Cadent Gas, Northern Gas Networks, SGN and Wales and West Utilities has already begun and will continue throughout the next two years.
Edward Allard, social programmes manager at Cadent, described it as a “significant and wide-reaching project” which will “create a real force for good across Britain”.
He added: “We visit thousands of homes every day, and thanks to this partnership we can create an army of safeguarders to help identify children at risk of neglect or abuse and ensure our workers know how to help them get the support they need as soon as possible.
“As part of our ongoing commitment to support customers living in the most vulnerable situations, each GDN will also work with the NSPCC’s safeguarding experts to ensure that the safeguarding of children and young people is fully embedded into our organisations.”
NSPCC chief executive Sir Peter Wanless said: “We are hugely excited about this project, and grateful to Ofgem and all the GDNs for supporting this wonderful partnership.
“Everyone has a role to play in preventing child abuse and neglect. With this training and support, we can create a real force for good and help protect some of the most vulnerable members of our society.
“By working together and sharing our resources, experience and expertise we can help engineers and gas employees across the country play their part in supporting vulnerable families and children in their communities.”
The project is funded by the Vulnerability and Carbon Monoxide Allowance (VCMA) and will also offer the chance for a network of child protection practitioners working with the NSPCC to learn about spotting carbon monoxide risks, the charity said.