How clubs can develop effective safeguarding strategies

  • Any non-profit club that has contact with children or ‘adults at risk’ (vulnerable adults) has a duty to safeguard them from potential abuse or neglect
  • In order to do this, clubs need to develop an effective safeguarding strategy that adheres to current safeguarding guidance and legislation
  • From identifying vulnerable groups, to training trustees or staff on how to spot signs of abuse or neglect, we explain how your club can establish and implement an effective safeguarding strategy

Regardless of whether or not you have statutory safeguarding obligations, if your non-profit club comes into contact with children or adults at risk, you have a responsibility to protect them from abuse and neglect.

This means you will need to have a robust safeguarding strategy, and ensure that everyone involved with your club understands their safeguarding role and responsibilities, and is aware of important developments regarding statutory safeguarding guidance and legislation.

What is safeguarding?

Safeguarding is about protecting vulnerable people from harm. While anyone can become a victim of abuse or neglect, only certain groups are considered to be at particular risk for safeguarding purposes.

Children, by virtue of their age, always fall into this category. Adults are also classed as vulnerable, if they are unable to protect themselves against the risk of abuse or neglect. This could be for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to: a physical disability, a learning disability, or a mental illness.

While the principles of how you safeguard both of these groups are very similar, the ways in which they are dealt with are very different. There is also different legislation, statutory requirements and responsibilities for each.

To add to the complexity of safeguarding, the UK’s four nations each have different laws, statutory guidance and ways of governing and monitoring safeguarding. In England, the main bodies are, Ofsted and CQC. In Scotland, there is the Care Inspectorate and HMIe. Wales has Estyn and CSSIW, and Northern Ireland has an ETI and RQIA.

But whichever part of the UK your club is based in, it is important to consider the safeguarding requirements of staff and volunteers as well as your members and service users, and put in place a strategy that puts their wellbeing at the heart of decision-making.

Changes to safeguarding children statutory guidance 

The second half of 2018 saw important changes to guidance and legislation concerning safeguarding children. These changes currently only relate to children in England, but pave the way for future changes in the rest of the UK.

Keeping Children Safe in Education 2018 (KCSIE) has updated rules for safeguarding in schools and colleges, and Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018 (WTSC) sets out what different organisations’ roles are and how they should work together to safeguard children within society. The WTSC 2018 changes include an emphasis on not-for-profit organisations.

A brief summary can be found in the boxout on the right. It is worth taking time to read through the downloadable pdfs to better understand the new rules and ways of working.

Another useful resource for sports clubs who work with children is the NSPCC’s Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU). The website includes information on how to create a safeguarding policy, various training and events, and safety and safeguarding help for both clubs and parents.

Identifying abuse and neglect

While certain members of your club may have specific safeguarding roles, everybody should have a clear understanding of what constitutes abuse and neglect, and how to identify and report it. Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility.

Some categories of abuse and neglect may be easier to identify than others. The categories include: physical; sexual; psychological/emotional; neglect and acts of omission; financial; discriminatory; and institutional/organisational abuse.

If you provide staff or volunteers with training to help them identify safeguarding concerns, it is important to have some way of measuring its effectiveness, for example, a post-training quiz or questionnaire. In a previous News and Views article, we provided a simple tick list to help develop effective safeguarding training.

Supporting individuals to raise concerns

Written safeguarding policies should be made available to every member of staff and every volunteer, regardless of their position.

It is also important to give individuals clear guidance on how to raise a potential safeguarding concern, but equally, to create an environment where they feel safe in doing so, and confident that their concerns will be taken seriously.

Developing and promoting a clear and robust whistleblowing policy is a positive step towards creating such an environment. Our safeguarding whitepaper – Understanding Safeguarding – contains useful guidance on what to include in a whistleblowing policy.

Having an open and transparent culture within your organisation, where safeguarding is taken seriously, is key to protecting vulnerable groups.

Regular reviews and record-keeping

Safeguarding policies should be regularly reviewed to take account of emerging and evolving safeguarding risks, and any relevant changes in legislation.

Reviews should also take account of any significant changes within your club that could introduce new safeguarding risks, for example a change in the activities or services you offer, or in the profile of your members.

Finally, for claims defensibility purposes, it is important that you maintain defensible decision making, which includes keeping clear and detailed safeguarding records so that you have evidence to refer to should your actions or decision-making be called into question.

The types of record kept will vary from club to club, but they could include:

  • Safeguarding referrals (to include chronology of contact with Police, Children’s Services or other safeguarding professionals – this should include names, dates and times, reason for speaking to them and cause of action)
  • Copies of risk assessments
  • Copies of DBS certificates (or equivalent)
  • Details of whistleblower reports
  • The findings of disciplinary meetings
  • Actions taken in response to any of the above

Supporting your safeguarding needs

Our Safeguarding Risk Resource has a wealth of information about different aspects of safeguarding.

Zurich Municipal is the first insurer to have a Safeguarding Risk Consultant in the UK. Marie Williams’ role is to guide our work in supporting organisations to better understand their safeguarding exposures and better manage their risks.