The start of the year is a great time to make important and positive changes in your church in regards to safeguarding. Here are five ways to get you started. This is not an exhaustive list, and CCPAS has plenty more ideas, training, advice and resources to help you build safe and healthy cultures for everyone.
1) Appoint a safeguarding lead
The first action to improve safeguarding is to appoint at least one person to take the lead on safeguarding within your organisation.
There are three main functions for a safeguarding lead:
- Act as an advocate.
- Act independently in reporting concerns of abuse.
- To oversee the preparation and implementation of the safeguarding policy.
A safeguarding lead does not need to be an expert in child or adult protection. That can be left to the statutory agencies and CCPAS can also help. They just need to be vigilant, ensure the right policies and procedures are in place, and that only suitable people are allowed to work with vulnerable groups. A safeguarding lead will be instrumental in making your place of worship or organisation a safer environment for all.
2) Write a safeguarding policy
Writing and implementing a safeguarding policy sends a powerful message to parents, children, visitors, as well as those intent on harm, that safeguarding children and young people is taken seriously within the organisation. It also helps protect your workers by giving clear boundaries and ways of working.
Here’s what to always include:
Mission Statement: a statement of intent and commitment to safeguarding by the organisation’s leadership.
Expectations of conduct: these are the expectations of conduct towards children, young people and adults at risk.
The safeguarding policy must be:
- Clear and easily understood.
- Approved, endorsed and signed by the leadership.
- Readily available for viewing by any person who may request it.
CCPAS has a template policy available to members and additional support and training available to help you put your policy together.
3) Review how you recruit staff and volunteers
Every parent, carer or family member has the right to expect the same standards of recruitment and professionalism irrespective of whether an individual is paid or works voluntarily.
Some mistakenly believe that carrying out a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check (formerly CRB check) is all that is needed, and it can be tempting for places of worship to take short cuts when a person is willing to help out and is a familiar face. Those who have responsibility in this area need to understand a disclosure check is only part of a safer recruitment process.
A decision to appoint someone should be based on all information gathered (i.e. their experiences, ability, suitability, and their motives for wanting to work with children and young people). It should not be based on factors, such as the urgency of need, or the immediate availability of the applicant. An assessment of each candidate interviewed may then be made. This will enable the organisation to arrive at a decision to appoint the candidate who gave greatest confidence in their ability.
CCPAS has a practice guide in the members area titled: I want to recruit workers safely.
4) Train and manage your teams
Within any organisation which deals with safeguarding issues, all workers, paid and voluntary, need to be appropriately trained, managed and supported.
It is important there are clear lines of accountability so that any person in the organisation knows how to discuss and refer matters of concern. The managers of the workers need to demonstrate the highest standards of conduct and the practices they want others to adhere to. This will include a willingness to attend training.
Ensure that relevant role specific training is available for those who work with the children, young people and adults, and also for other activities of the church or organisation. This might include safeguarding training, health and safety, first aid, food hygiene etc.
This doesn’t have to be a big task, but needs to ensure your team are confident in their knowledge of current legislation and ways of working safely.
5) Celebrate your achievements together, big and small
It can be easy to forget the purpose behind safeguarding. The ‘why’ we do it can sometimes get lost in the processes and procedures that need to be adhered to. Spending time together with your team to celebrate the things you’ve done which are helping keep those in your care safe is really important. It can be as simple as a cosy evening round someone’s house for a few hours to remind each other of the importance of their work and to thank them for all they are doing. Let your team know you appreciate them, and that what they are doing is making a difference. Inspire them. Make time to pray together about some of the issues and challenges you may be facing. Make sure you encourage and support each other. What can sometimes feel like a burden or a chore is vital in keeping children and young people safe from harm.
For advice or support in getting started with safeguarding in your organisation call CCPAS on 0303 003 1111, for independent, professional and compassionate support.