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Tuesday 22nd January saw the launch of a new audit tool that has been developed by thirtyone:eight specifically to help UK based charities working with partners overseas to review and strengthen their safeguarding arrangements in the context of local statutory frameworks, cultures and practices.

The international self-audit tool for reviewing safeguarding arrangements, which is the first of its kind, has been developed as a direct response to requests from UK based organisations wanting support with reviewing and developing their own safeguarding arrangements and those of overseas partners.  The tool was launched at an event held in London jointly hosted by thirtyone:eight, Thrive Worldwide and Global Connections, on Safeguarding in an international context: Shifting cultures: pushing through barriers.

Karen Eakins, Head of Consultancy at thirtyone:eight who co-authored the tool along with Helen Gilbert, Safeguarding Associate, launched the new resource to around 100 delegates including Trustees, CEOs and Senior Leaders from over 50 churches and international organisations who all have people serving internationally, offices based overseas, and/or partners who facilitate projects abroad.

The launch of the tool comes after the completion of a successful pilot, where it was tested by a selection of organisations and their international partners.  Krasif Aid charity were one of the UK based organisation who took part in the pilot in the context of their work with vulnerable people in eastern Europe.  Chris Clarke, Trustee at Krasif Aid, said “With the increased requirements from the Charity Commission to ensure that our overseas partner organisations are improving their own safeguarding standards, the recent work in Bulgaria using the new International Audit Tool has been invaluable.  Not only has this process been ground-breaking for our partners, but it has definitely given us a greater understanding of our role and responsibilities in both the UK and abroad.”

Built around seven core principles which include: Organisational culture; Policy and Procedural standards; Recruiting safely; Training and development, Safer working; Recognising, responding and reporting concerns; and Working with overseas partners, the practical and easy-to-use tool follows a three stage process of reviewing the arrangements of the UK organisation, dialogue with the overseas partner organisations, and the formulation of an action plan.

Karen Eakins, was speaking at the event alongside Tim Davy, Research Fellow and Lecturer at Redcliffe College, and Eleanor Morgan from the Charity Commission.  Karen says “Many of our member organisations, in addition to working in the UK, also work with partners overseas.  We are receiving increasing numbers of requests for help within the challenging area of international safeguarding, which is why we have been developing our range of consultancy services to include international safeguarding and child protection.  However, in our experience, seeking to impose a UK model is rarely successful in contexts where policy makers work from a different legislative framework, where reporting at local level could sometimes leave children, and workers, potentially at greater risk and where there may be widely differing understandings of what constitutes abuse.

This new tool, which we are making available at no cost, sits within our range of resources and forms a basis from which organisations can develop a clear picture of how their safeguarding arrangements and those of their partner organisations relate to expected standards and best practice.  It also provides a solid framework from which an effective action plan may be developed.”

Justin Humphreys, CEO at thirtyone:eight, who was present at the launch, said “One of the findings highlighted by the 2018 House of Commons International Development Committee Report was that women and children suffer disproportionately from sexual exploitation and abuse where there is a power imbalance and opportunity for the abuse of power.  Sadly, research reveals that Christian missions and charities are not immune from this.  When working internationally, as at home, our aim must be to ensure that we do no harm, and in all things enable our partners and beneficiaries to have their voices heard.  We believe that working together to share knowledge and develop mutual understanding, will help raise the standards of safeguarding practice within the UK and internationally.”

The tool can be accessed here or to request a copy call 0303 003 1111.

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