Everyone who comes into contact with children and families has a role to play in Safeguarding, however, those that have a specific role or responsibility need to receive appropriate training to help them understand those responsibilities and feel confident in preventing and responding to situations as they arise. Churches can be a busy place and it can sometimes be tempting to cut corners to ease the burden on volunteers and staff. However, training workers effectively, as well as being a requirement, also means your organisation will be able to ensure your creating safer places for all, not just those you care for, but for your workers as well.
The Provision of Training
General safeguarding awareness training is particularly useful to organisations as it provides information about definitions of abuse, identifying abuse and how to pass this on to the appropriate statutory authorities. This is often referred to by its old term of ‘Level 1’ training. Children’s workers, leaders and those with specific safeguarding responsibility e.g. the safeguarding co-ordinator, should undertake what is often referred to (again by their old terms of) as Level 2 and Level 3 training.
The frequency of training needs to be such that workers are competent and knowledgeable in relevant legislation and practice (for safeguarding this will be every 3 years). Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards (LSCB) and Adult Safeguarding Boards (SAB) often encourage voluntary agencies to attend their training courses.
In order to implement the policy in relation to training, organisations need to ensure relevant role-specific training is available for those who work with children. This might include safeguarding training, but also includes other areas of training such as health and safety, first aid and food hygiene.
The church should also ensure that new workers are given induction training and supervision during the first six months. During this time the organisation should arrange support for the worker, including regular meetings with a supervisor to discuss how the job is going and to make any adjustments.
Records of attendance
It can be difficult to get volunteers who only serve one hour per month to come along to the training sessions needed for safeguarding. It is therefore important to plan ahead to make sure the dates work for as many volunteers as possible, and also that appropriate function rooms can be booked and the right amount of resources provided.
It is also important to keep a record of who has attended and who still needs to attend. Every parent, carer or family member has the right to expect the same standards of professionalism irrespective of whether an individual is paid or works voluntarily. A worker or volunteer’s willingness to complete any training shows that he or she takes safeguarding seriously. It also enables the church to show them they are valued both as a person and for the role for which they are volunteering.
Awareness is not just for workers. It is important that all those you work with, children, young people, and adults with care and support needs know who to go to if they are frightened or worried.
Children especially need to know the difference between secrets which can be kept those which cannot. These are often referred to as ‘good and bad secrets’. They also need to understand the difference between ‘safe and unsafe touch’.
A particular challenge for faith groups is that sometimes those in authority can consciously or unconsciously prevent others from asking questions or challenging decisions.
There is a common thread within many faiths concerning children obeying parents. This can present a risk for a child who is being abused. It can be made clear to the child or young person that if they feel uncomfortable or sense something is wrong they can always check things out with another adult.
It is important that information displayed and given is in a user-friendly format e.g. simple language for the young, readable font for those with limited sight, in pictures, Braille or Makaton, and for posters to be at a height where small children or those in wheelchairs can access them.
Leading by example is one of the most powerful ways of setting and maintaining safer cultures. Regardless of the size or varied work undertaken by any church, place of worship or faith-based organisation, it is essential that all leaders are appropriately trained and that this is clear as an expectation upon them within the recruitment processes being used. It is also important that the church leadership understand their safeguarding policy, are willing to follow it and never try to deal with safeguarding issues independently.
Learning in lock-down
As organisations find themselves adapting to new and different circumstances helping workers stay on top of their training can be a challenge. With the restrictions in place on meeting gather, being able to deliver training to your teams can cause a barrier particularly to recruiting new workers and getting them up-to-speed quickly so they can take on new roles and responsibilities. At thirtyone:eight we’ve been working hard to put in place a series of online webinar training sessions. With many people now working from home this could be the perfect opportunity for them to refresh their safeguarding knowledge or to prepare for a new role.
Webinar topics currently include: