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The summer holidays are a fantastic opportunity to put on fun activities for children and young people, especially young people who may feel lonely, isolated and bored. But any holiday club, residential or camp should be carefully thought through and the safety and wellbeing of children put at the forefront of all your activities. Doing this requires forward-planning. We’re here to help you do just that!  

If safeguarding policies and procedures are in place, everyone can have a good time with peace of mind that should there be any concerns about the welfare of a young person, there is a system in place to ensure concerns are dealt with in an appropriate way.  

The recent changes to the ‘Positions of Trust’ law are a welcome amendment, expanding the umbrella of positions of trust to include sports coaches and faith leaders. 

Government guidance requires faith communities to ensure that safeguarding arrangements are in place – and that they’re fit for purpose in various settings such as when taking a group away for a camp or residential. Would you know, for example, what to do in the case of a child who is bed-wetting? Or a young person who has additional needs? 

Thinking of how robust your safeguarding policy is in these settings is worth considering ahead of time. So, what should you be thinking about when planning your summer camp or holiday club? We’ve got you covered. See our top five tips below! 

1. Communicate well 

You have a safeguarding policy in place. But how will parents and other workers know about it? If they have questions about any of the details, do they know who they can speak to for clarification? Communicating to children and leaders about who they should speak to if they have any concerns, whether through posters, informational leaflets, or other means, is crucial. 

Make sure parents, children and leaders know what they need to do in advance. For children with additional needs, talk to parents beforehand about how they usually deal with the issues they face at home. Agree a plan and put it in writing to the parents. Share that plan with the key leaders. 

It’s a good idea to train your workers before they attend the camp or holiday club so they know the signs and symptoms of abuse, safe practice and what to do if they are concerned about a child or if a young person makes a disclosure of abuse.  

Thirtyone:eight offers a basic safeguarding awareness eLearning course, which has been specifically designed for those who need to gain a basic understanding of this subject quickly and effectively. It’s ideal for those who need to learn about safeguarding for the first time, as well equipping those who want to refresh their knowledge and understanding of safeguarding in between completing any other safeguarding courses. 

If you prefer learning in real time with other learners, we also offer live webinars on safeguarding children and young people. 


'Thinking of how robust your safeguarding policy is in these settings is worth considering ahead of time.'


2. Have a plan in place for worst case scenarios 

You notice a young person with unusual cuts on their arm. A teenager comes to you saying their friend on the camp is talking about committing suicide. These are conversations you never want to have, but sadly we have seen an increase in the volume of calls on our Safeguarding Helpline about self-harm, and a rise in calls about threats of suicide. Don’t be caught off guard – be ready. 


3. Ensure roles are clear 

Ensure that leaders, parents and children know who the Safeguarding Coordinator or Designated Safeguarding Lead is and how they can be contacted. A safeguarding policy will outline the process of what to do when you’re concerned about a child or young person’s welfare and where the Safeguarding Lead will take action. Having clear boundaries in place ensures that everyone knows the scope and parameters of the actions they need to take. Outline clearly defined job roles for both paid and voluntary workers as part of safer recruitment. 


4. Safer recruitment for both paid workers and volunteers 

Thankfully, there is growing awareness that safer recruitment of workers and volunteers for your youth activities doesn’t mean you’re casting aspersions or are automatically suspicious of everyone. It means that you take the welfare of young people seriously. That you recognise and value the inherent worth and dignity of the children in your care and will ensure that they are protected and can thrive, free from abuse. Free to flourish. 

A disclosure check is an important part of a safer recruitment process, but in reality it’s only one element of a more involved process. The Disclosure and Barring Service (England & Wales), Disclosure Scotland (Scotland) and AccessNI (Northern Ireland) all emphasise that a criminal record check should be the last stage of the recruitment process. State your organisation’s commitment to safeguarding and the need to complete Disclosure checks in the application process.  

Thirtyone:eight is an umbrella body appointed by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), and AccessNI to process Disclosure checks. Where there is a blemished disclosure (i.e., convictions, cautions) it’s important to seek advice on whether to appoint. We offer support and guidance on carrying out assessments (including for certificates issued in Scotland). 

Remember to submit DBS Checks with plenty of time to spare before the event starts, as volumes of applications do increase during the build-up to summer camps. This can have a knock-on effect on the amount of time it will take to complete an application, and you wouldn’t want anyone to have to miss an event due to not allowing enough time for the check to come back. 

Even if volunteers run your club or camp, it’s important to hold them to the same standards as a paid worker, including around safe recruitment and safeguarding. If a volunteer is put off by the idea of self-declaration forms and other kinds of paperwork or checks, ask yourself whether you should be allowing them to work with the children and young people in your care. If they take the welfare of young people seriously, they will understand the importance of such procedures and will have no problem cooperating. A fuller guide to safer recruitment, complete with checklist, is available for Thirtyone:eight members on our knowledge hub. 


'Remember to submit DBS Checks with plenty of time to spare before the event starts, as volumes of applications do increase during the build-up to summer camps.'


5. Logistics and practicalities 

Consider in advance transport arrangements including insurance, MOT and roadworthiness, as well as whether you’re going to ask drivers to sign a document to say they are fit to drive (not to have consumed alcohol within the last 12 hours or taken any illegal substance). 

Contact your insurance company about the activities on the camp and conduct risk assessments about all aspects of the arrangements (responsibility for this can be shared across different people). Remember, while these activities may feel like a burdensome chore, they send a strong message to leaders and parents that you genuinely care for your children and young people – that you are actively creating safer places for young people to thrive. That’s no small thing. 

Make sure you know the contact details for the parents, the local authority where they reside, and the local police public protection unit. 

Don’t forget, our Safeguarding Helpline advisors are always on hand to support you if you have any concerns or just need some advice – call 0303 003 1111. If you’re a member of Thiryone:eight, we have a full guide to safeguarding on camps and residentials available through our online resource library and knowledge hub. Not a member yet? Find out more and apply today! 


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