Are you setting up an organisation for children or young people? Or does your community group run activities for them? If so, take a look at the top five safeguarding considerations from the Safe Network which can help you to provide a safe environment for children and young people.
1. Safe Recruitment
If your community group needs people to help out, it’s important that you establish a good recruitment process. This applies to volunteers, as well as any paid staff.
This will help you choose people who are well suited to your organisation and are less likely to harm children, intentionally or accidentally. You should make it clear when you are involving others, that your group is committed to safeguarding and protecting children.
A recruitment process doesn’t have to be onerous and depends of the size of your group. The Safe Network’s minimum recommendations are:
- having written recruitment, selection and induction policies
- a simple written application form
- face-to-face interviews
- two references
You may also need to get a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check depending on the work.
2. Dealing with child protection concerns and allegations of abuse
Identify a named person responsible for safeguarding and ensure that you issue clear guidelines on how your organisation deals with child protection concerns.
Make sure that anyone (including volunteers) working with children has an induction on basic safeguarding and child protection awareness. They need to know what to look out for and how to respond appropriately to a child who turns to them as a trusted adult and discloses abuse.
There also needs to be procedures in place to deal with allegations of abuse at your group. Staff and volunteers should be aware it is their duty to report concerns and feel confident there will be no negative repercussions for them if they do this.
3. Preventing avoidable accidents
It can sometimes feel as if accident prevention is all about saying ‘no’ and avoiding all risks. This isn’t the case – as children get older they need and want to take risks. The challenge is to manage these and keep children safe, while also allowing them to participate in fun, adventurous activities.
We recommend putting together a simple safety policy which will help you carry out a risk/benefit analysis of activities. You can find further guidance in this resource.
4. Preventing bullying
The harmful impact of bullying on children’s wellbeing can be serious and prolonged, meaning it is vital that you have measures in place to tackle it. An effective anti-bullying policy will be:
- Preventative – raising awareness of what bullying is, its impact, and the fact that it is unacceptable
- Curative – designed to stop cases of bullying, provide support for the young person who has been bullied, and address the behaviour of those doing the bullying.
Risk assessments should be carried out into the venue and the activities your group is undertaking so you can consider what needs to be put in place to minimise risks.
Things to consider:
- Is there a mix of ages in the group? Measures put in place for the younger and older children should be different.
- Are there any deaf or disabled children in your group?
You should also look at risks posed by the activities themselves – for example do they involve children changing clothes or one-to-one contact?
Find out more
The Safe Network’s website gives further guidance and template policies and procedures to help you set up your group and put in place all the points covered above.
It also provides access to the Safe Network Standards a regularly updated free resource that helps voluntary and community organisations of all sizes put robust safeguarding arrangements in place.
You can also take a look at our live discussion from last week on tips for running events with children and safeguarding.