1.1 Purpose of the policy
Ensuring the safety and protection of their beneficiaries is an essential aspect of all charities work. Unless individuals are safe and treated well, with dignity and respect, it is impossible for them to realise their potential or to benefit fully from the work and activities supported by Thrive at Five.
There has been increasing recognition of the way in which vulnerable people can be at risk of harm from organisations and institutions that are supposed to help them, either as a result of abuse and exploitation by individuals in positions of trust, or via programme activities in general.
As a consequence, there has been a significant increase in the efforts made by agencies to ensure that no harm comes to beneficiaries or target communities from contact with their staff and associates or as a result of any of the organisation’s activities.
This duty of care extends beyond statutory safeguarding requirements. Thrive at Five does not engage in any activity with children or vulnerable adults such as is regulated by safeguarding legislation, but it does take seriously its obligations to operate in such a way as to ensure so far as is possible that its work causes no harm to anyone with whom it engages.
Given these values and in light of widely recognised risks, Thrive at Five has developed this policy to promote protection for all those people it comes into contact with – staff and volunteers within the charity itself as well as the partner organisations with which we work.
Should it come into contact with vulnerable groups Thrive at Five takes responsibility to ensure it is doing all it can to protect such groups from all forms of harm that might occur as a result of that contact, including abuse, neglect and exploitation and to ensure appropriate action is taken if such harm occurs.
Based on best practice, this policy and associated training provides all staff including temporary, agency, freelance and contractors (hereafter referred to as ‘staff’), trustees and volunteers, information about abuse, advice on identifying problems as well as defining individual and collective roles and responsibilities in safeguarding vulnerable adults and children from abuse and neglect.
This policy also applies to other organisations with whom Thrive at Five works or provides with funding. Thrive at Five expects that the principles and approaches already shared with partnership organisations mean that they will fully support the values and commitments set out in this policy. Thrive at Five recognises that some will already have protection policies and associated measures in place. Where this is the case they should have no difficulty in also complying with the standards set out in this policy.
Thrive at Five is committed to, and endeavours to, meet its obligations towards the safeguarding of children and adults at risk. Whilst Thrive at Five does not currently undertake any regulated activity as defined by the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006, it does interact with such, and therefore an outcome of this policy and its associated training is to provide staff, trustees and volunteers with the overarching principles that guide our approach and interactions.
2.1 Safeguarding – embedding practices throughout the organisation to make sure that children and adults at risk are protected wherever possible.
2.2 A child at risk – A child is an individual up to and including age of 18 (as defined in the Children Act 1989). A child at risk is a child who is experiencing or is at risk of abuse, neglect or other kinds of harm.
2.3 A Young Person – Whilst there is no legal definition for this term, herein it refers to the upper age range of a child i.e. 16-18 years old.
2.4 An adult at risk – An adult at risk is a person aged 18 years or over who is experiencing or is at risk of abuse, neglect or other kinds of harm and has care and support needs. (Care Act 2014). This may include a person who:
- Is elderly and frail
- Has a mental illness including dementia
- Has a physical or sensory disability
- Has a learning disability
- Has a severe physical illness
- Is a substance misuser
- Is homeless
2.5 Child protection – an activity which is carried out to protect specific children who are suffering, or are at risk of suffering, significant harm.
2.6 Duty of Care – a legal obligation to:
- Always act in the best interest of individuals and others
- Not act or fail to act in a way that results in harm
- Act within your competence and not take on anything you do not believe you can safely do.
2.7 Child and adult protection – protecting an adult’s/child’s right to live in safety, free from abuse or neglect, while at the same time making sure that the adult’s wellbeing is promoted including, where appropriate, having regard to their views, wishes, feelings and beliefs in deciding on any action.
2.8 Abuse – a selfish act of oppression and injustice, exploitation and manipulation of power by those in a position of authority. This can be caused by those inflicting harm or those who fail to act to prevent harm. Abuse is not restricted to any socio-economic group, gender or culture.
It can take many forms, including:
- Physical abuse
- Discriminatory abuse
- Domestic violence and abuse
- Organisational abuse
- Psychological/Emotional abuse
- Neglect and acts of omission
- Financial or material abuse
- Modern slavery
- Sexual Abuse
2.9 Significant harm – There are no absolute criteria on which to rely when judging what constitutes significant harm. For the purposes of Thrive at Five ’s response to concerns about children or vulnerable adults, this distinction is the responsibility of children’s or adult’s services and the police. Any decision about investigating concerns of this nature will therefore be their responsibility but Thrive at Five has a key role in
contributing to any investigation.
2.10 Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) – The DBS was created when the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) merged with the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) in December 2012. The DBS runs checks at three different levels providing information on an individual’s criminal record(s). Those engaged in regulated activity must have a valid DBS check at the required level for the role they are performing.
3. KEY PRINCIPLES
- This policy and corresponding procedure aims to achieve a culture within Thrive at Five in which a proactive approach to safeguarding, promoting and protecting the rights of vulnerable adults and children is taken.
- Thrive at Five will ensure that partner organisations conducting work with children and vulnerable adults conduct all relevant checks and vetting procedures throughout its recruitment and onboarding processes.
- All adults and children who either work, volunteer or use Thrive at Five services have the right to live a life free from abuse, harm and neglect regardless of age, disability, gender, racial heritage, religious belief, sexual
orientation or identity.
- This policy and associated procedure applies to all staff, volunteers, trustees and representatives of Thrive at Five, including contractors and temporary staff.
- Thrive at Five is committed to the prevention of, and protection from, abuse and neglect of all adults and children at risk of abuse or neglect who come into contact with the organisation through its staff, volunteers or representatives, in whatever capacity that contact occurs.
- Thrive at Five is committed to taking all necessary steps to stop abuse happening, whether that abuse is perpetrated by staff, volunteers or members of the public.
- Thrive at Five is committed to its duty of care to all adults and children it has contact with. If there are concerns about staff or volunteers perpetrating abuse, it will facilitate any action required to address this without delay. All allegations, concerns or suspicions of abuse or neglect are taken seriously and responded to in line with this policy.
- This policy includes actions required to address abusive behaviours and attitudes. Thrive at Five ’s staff and volunteers are entitled to be treated with respect and to work in a safe environment. We protect our staff and volunteers through requiring compliance with our Code of Conduct and Equality and Diversity Statement.
- On occasions when staff have been dismissed because of concerns about safeguarding, they may be referred by Thrive at Five to relevant professional bodies including, where appropriate, the Disclosure & Barring Service
- Thrive at Five has a duty to contact the relevant authorities if there are concerns that an adult/child at risk may be being abused.
- Thrive at Five is committed to ensuring that the right staffing and reporting structure is in place to enable safeguarding concerns to be dealt with effectively and to ensure the correct processes are followed as detailed in the procedure. This includes the escalation to senior staff within Thrive at Five of concerns posing a significant risk to an individual or the charity.
4. ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES TO SUPPORT SAFEGUARDING
Thrive at Five will undertake the following responsibilities:
- Thrive at Five will ensure staff and volunteers are carefully recruited and necessary checks are made in line with recruitment and vetting good practice guidelines.
- Thrive at Five is committed to working with stakeholders and the relevant authorities in which the Thrive at Five initiatives and programmes are run and attended, especially if there are perceived risks or concerns about staff, contractors or volunteers.
- Thrive at Five is committed to ensuring all staff and volunteers, including those with designated responsibilities, have received appropriate levels of up-to-date safeguarding training. This will be a minimum of every two years for the Designated Safeguarding Leads.
4.1 Key Roles
There are key roles within the organisation that support the Safeguarding process:
- Chief Executive, who is the Designated Safeguarding Lead
- Designated Trustee
Chief Executive – has overall responsibility for all safeguarding matters within the charity. They will be responsible for keeping informed on current legislation and other matters regarding safeguarding. This includes ensuring that safeguarding training is up-to-date.
As the Designated Safeguarding Lead the CEO will
- Brief the Board of Trustees on safeguarding matters including volume of activity, location, trends, risks and actions taken.
- Where appropriate they may make referrals to external bodies such as the local authority or the police.
- Recruit staff in accordance with relevant HR policy, including (where required) DBS checks
- Ensure that safeguarding is part of every staff induction and inherent in ways of working
- Identify staff who are likely to come into contact with children or adults at risk as part of their role and assess the risk
- Ensure training is delivered and attended by all
- Ensure that all are aware of how to report safeguarding concerns and to whom
- Ensure that all are aware of Thrive at Five’s Whistleblowing policy
- Ensure that all are aware that they must conduct themselves in a manner which safeguards and promotes the safeguarding practices at Thrive at Five
- Ensure all staff are provided with guidance about safeguarding concerns as required. Designated Trustee – has been chosen to be the point of contact for all whistleblowing allegations (as and when needed).
5 RISK ASSESSMENT
Should this policy be ignored or disregarded, the possible outcomes are:
- For vulnerable adults/children at risk of abuse or neglect – placed at further risk of harm and neglect.
- For staff and volunteers – potentially subjected to inquiry, investigation internally or externally for failing to take appropriate steps, which may then lead to a disciplinary process.
- For the Designated Safeguarding Lead, the Chief Executive and Board of Trustees – possible inquiry and report from the Charity Commission and regulators or recommendation from local authorities to regulators.
- For Thrive at Five – possible risk of public scrutiny and ultimately risk of prosecution.
All of the above can lead to negative media attention and damage to the reputation of Thrive at Five. The public may lose confidence in Thrive at Five as an organisation resulting in failure to deliver our charitable objectives.
Currently, no member of staff undertakes a regulated activity as defined by the DBS, and as such are not subject to DBS checks. However, this position is constantly reviewed.
In the future, where staff work directly with children, vulnerable adults or young people, they must be checked by the Disclosure and Barring Service prior to their employment and hold a valid DBS certificate. Thrive at Five will renew the certificate every 3 years. Contractors and external agencies must produce their own valid DBS certificates. Advice will be sought from the Disclosure and Barring Service to ensure recruitment in this area follows best practice.
All staff will attend safeguarding training and will be made aware of their responsibility to comply with current legislation and guidance and any new relevant legislation as it is implemented. Designated leads in safeguarding are expected to keep up to date and informed about any changes in this area. Training will be refreshed every 3 years – or earlier where legislation or practices changes. Information regarding this training will be logged.
As we do not conduct regulated activity as defined by DBS, it is unlikely that staff will come into direct contact with a child or adult at risk. However, if such a circumstance arises, and that individual discloses abuse to a member of staff, or an allegation is made against a member of Thrive at Five, they should contact the Designated Safeguarding Lead immediately.
6.4 Responding to complaints and alleged or suspected incidents
Any and all complaints should always be investigated. All parties rightly need to have confidence that the complaint or allegation is being dealt with in the appropriate and timely manner.
Equally, any employee who has an allegation raised against them requires confidence that the Thrive at Five will act in a careful and measured way, preserving their anonymity using all appropriate agencies for advice and support. Complaints or cases of alleged or suspected incidents should be reported, verbally and in writing to the Designated Safeguarding Lead. If the Designated Safeguarding Lead is not available or is the subject of the complaint, it should be made to the Designated Trustee.
6.5 How complaints are processed
If there is a concern or allegation made about or received from a child or adult at risk, the Designated Safeguarding Lead/the Chief Executive.
We are committed to reporting any incidents to the appropriate regulatory bodies including the UK Charity Commission and government departments or funding bodies, as required. Where there is evidence that criminal activity may have taken place, we will report to the relevant police and/or safeguarding authorities as appropriate.
Reports to the Charity Commission shall be made by the Chief executive in consultation with the board of trustees and Thrive at Five ’s Serious Incident Reporting policy.
If it is assessed that there is evidence of an incident, or the potential for imminent significant harm, appropriate action will be taken, where possible, on the day the Chief Executive officer receive the information concerning a reportable incident.
6.6 Internal Investigations
Thrive at Five have implemented a Whistleblowing Policy aimed at encouraging a culture of openness and accountability wherein staff are confident that they can raise any matter of genuine concern without fear of reprisal in the knowledge that they will be taken seriously and that matters will be investigated appropriately and regarded as confidential.
In the case of allegations made against employees of the Thrive at Five , there should be a full and timely investigation.
Any investigation should be cognisant of the fact that allegations relating to a failure or breach of safeguarding are both potently serious criminal offences, but if unfounded such allegations can still carry a social stigma which could have a significant a negative impact on an individual’s personal and professional life.
During any initial investigation the identity of both the accuser and the accused should only be disclosed to those who need to know about it and a high degree of sensitivity is required. The investigation body will ordinarily be the Designated Safeguarding Lead/Chief Executive Officer and Designated Trustee. Any investigation should be completed as rapidly as possible, consistent with its effective conduct. The exception to this is in the case of potential criminal activity where the Police should be called in as a matter of routine.
6.7 Unsubstantiated and false allegations
On very rare occasions, it is possible that an individual could raise an allegation(s) that upon investigation can be found to be unsubstantiated or untrue.
If a report is found to be demonstrably false, this behaviour may be indicative of an underlying issue elsewhere which may require further investigation. In such circumstances this should in the first instance be reported to the Chief Executive who will consider whether a further referral should be made to another authoritative body such as the Police or the Social Services.
In the event that a report is found to be malicious or deliberately misleading, a decision will be made in consultation with the Chief Executive/Designated Safeguarding Lead as to whether this should be investigated through the Disciplinary Policy and Procedure or even reported to the Police.
If it is established that the allegations were unfounded or malicious, the Chief Executive will:
- make it clear to those involved that the accused has been exonerated.
- consider whether counselling for the accused and/or accuser is appropriate.
- consider further steps to support the accused.
6.8 Substantiated allegations
Should an allegation be investigated and found to be true resulting in the person leaving the organisation via their own resignation or dismissal for a statutory safeguarding reason, then the Thrive at Five has a legal obligation to make a referral to the appropriate bodies, including Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) which was established under the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012.
The Designated Safeguarding Lead/Chief Executive has the duty to report this, including a full report of the investigations and process followed to reach this conclusion, within one month.
6.9 Management of Information
The Thrive at Five complies with the principles of GDPR in the way it collects, holds and disposes of personal information.
7. POLICY REVIEW
This policy, its accompanying procedures and any supporting documents will be reviewed