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Safeguarding with grantholders

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Specific grant conditions

Where an applicant doesn’t sufficiently meet your safeguarding criteria, you can still decide that you are prepared to fund them if they meet certain conditions. 

You do this by setting out your conditions in a grant agreement or letter. 

You need to explain:

  • what you expect them to do
  • how you will monitor whether the conditions have been met
  • when you expect them to do this by
  • how this will affect their payment schedule
  • whether you will allow them to make changes to their budget so they can meet the conditions
  • whether you have time to provide advice on meeting the conditions.

Some common safeguarding conditions include:

  • delivering activities alongside a partner with more safeguarding experience
  • increasing budget to allow for more qualified staff or volunteers
  • closer involvement from people who need safeguarding who can advise on their own needs.

Some common methods of checking include:

  • a short interim report
  • an amended project plan 
  • evidence to be sent such as certificates
  • a meeting or visit.
Tramwell Foundation award a grant to a community project that wants to deliver a project targeting children who have been expelled from school. Having discussed with an adviser, Tranwell place a condition that there must be staff present who have completed relevant training. They agree that the cost can be included in the budget and add a deadline for when the training should be completed. They expect to see certificates for their records.

The grant agreement

The Charity Commission set out clear instructions about grant agreements. In addition to the other elements that should be included, you need to make sure safeguarding responsibilities are highlighted.

You should include:

  • how you plan for the project and safeguarding practice to be evaluated
  • what level of safeguarding concern or incident you need people to report 
  • how you will respond to a safeguarding concern or incident
  • what happens if the grantee cannot continue with the funded activity and if this would place beneficiaries at risk
  • whether safeguarding incidents have the same consequences as other breaches of the grant agreement or have their own additional consequences.

Monitoring safeguarding

You should make sure that safeguarding practice is actively monitored throughout the grant period and that concerns are responded to without delay. 

The nature and frequency of monitoring will be proportionate to your risk assessment and what you have set out in the agreement or contract. For example, if you consider the activities to be low risk, you may decide you are happy to rely on bi-annual reports from the grantee.

 Regular monitoring helps to:

  • build your relationship with the grantee
  • develop your understanding of the work and safeguarding risks
  • make sure good safeguarding practice is being followed
  • identify new or emerging risks or concerns to be addressed.

Methods of monitoring safeguarding are often combined with other monitoring activity. They can also be done separately. They include:

  • asking for case studies or examples of how the safeguarding policy is being used
  • arranging for telephone or face to face meetings
  • arranging to visit the project and talk to staff, volunteers and service users about their experience of how safeguarding practices are working
  • asking the grantee to tell about what they have learned
  • encouraging the grantee to tell you about complaints, incidents and safeguarding concerns and how they have managed them.  
Lydia Moss Trust make a substantial two year grant to a school farm. The Trust arrange a visit to coincide with the first six month report. The school farm explain that they now need to get seasonal adult workers to help and they will need to be DBS checked. The Trust agree changes to the budget so that this unforeseen cost can be covered. A telephone meeting is arranged for the 12 month report.

If any concerns or risks are identified or reported, these must be assessed by a suitably experienced  member of your team. Together with the grantee, you should decide what action is needed. If you decide the risk can be safely managed, you can introduce additional measures and/or changes to the grant agreement to support this. If not, you’d need to take additional action.   

Lydia Moss Trust have made a small one-off grant to a hospice so it can purchase special equipment for its residents. A condition of the grant was that at least one person per shift would have undergone the relevant training. The Trust expect a written report within 12 months of the grant spend. The report is to include examples of how the equipment has improved the wellbeing of residents and proof of any training completed.

When carrying out monitoring visits, you must consider the safeguarding implications of the visit itself. To do this, a risk assessment is needed. Make sure those who plan and attend the visit have up-to-date safeguarding and risk assessment training. The grantee must be involved in both planning the visit and the risk assessment process so that all risks are assessed and measures taken are appropriate.

 The risk assessment should address things like :

  • making sure your staff and volunteers have relevant, up-to-date safeguarding training
  • what to do if your staff and volunteers identify safeguarding concerns
  • supervision of your staff and volunteers when meeting children or adults at risk
  • any specific risks to your staff and volunteers such as physical or emotional.

Your staff and volunteers must follow your own Code of Conduct and policies at all times. However, on a project visit, you should also follow the grantee’s Code of Conduct and the policies or procedures that are relevant to their work. Any issues arising from a difference in the two Codes of Conduct should be included in the risk assessment.

Pickwick Foundation are planning a project visit to a grantee that runs young people’s supportive living.  They plan the itinerary with the grantee to make sure activities are safe and manageable. They agree to follow the grantee’s policies and procedures for visitors which includes never being left unsupervised with children or walking around the building alone.

Responding to a safeguarding issue in a grantee organisation

It’s good practice to say in the grant agreement that the grantee will tell you about incidents as they arise. As part of your commitment to safeguarding, if you have time and expertise available, you should encourage grantees to tell you about concerns early. This is so you can provide advice and support where needed.

Safeguarding concerns may be brought to your attention in a number of ways, for example by:

  • your own staff/volunteers
  • staff, volunteers, service users (or their parent/carers) from the grantee organisation
  • a member of the public
  • another funder or delivery partner of the grantee
  • the police. 

An organisation that takes safeguarding seriously will encourage concerns to be raised and will be alert to risks. Therefore, when a safeguarding concern or incident is reported, don’t be alarmed as this can be an indicator that the policies and procedures are effective.

Where a safeguarding concern is reported to you, you must follow your safeguarding policy to make sure you respond well. Your aim is to create a culture of safeguarding and you can demonstrate this in how you manage the situation.

Make sure the staff or volunteer who is dealing with the incident is appropriately trained. They need to make sure your policy and procedures are followed and may need to provide advice to the grantee. They will need sufficient experience to be able to respond professionally, calmly and in-line with your safeguarding values.

They will need to consider a range of things together with the grantee and work hard to establish a positive response. 

You can use this list and add to it when planning a policy.

  • Check with the grantee that they have taken the right steps and know what they need to do next to keep everyone safe. Depending on the issue and how it affects the work you’re funding, you may need to have a meeting with the grantee to see what you can do to support them.  Let them know that you want to support them.
  • Be sensitive to what impact the incident may have on the grantee’s staff, volunteers and beneficiaries.  It’s important that the grantee is encouraged to recognise what they have done well and what they could improve on.  Beneficiaries may need reassurance too.
  • Be sensitive about data protection, what information the grantee can share with you and what they cannot.
  • Consider how you can work with and support the grantee regarding any PR and communications that need to be made to beneficiaries or partners. Follow your PR policy and procedure if you are contacted by the press. They should usually be directed to the grantee.
  • Identify what support you can provide the grantee.  For example, it may be that more training is needed or advice and guidance from a specialist on how to improve practice. You may decide to help pay for an investigation or evaluation of safeguarding practice.  Depending on the impact on the work, it may be helpful to extend the grant period.
  • You have a responsibility to investigate the facts and respond accordingly. You should do a risk assessment and involve the grantee in that process. Keep them updated with what’s happening and provide assurance where you can in order to manage any anxiety. You want them to focus on doing their work safely and well.
  • Be mindful of the impact on your staff or volunteers who are dealing with the incident or concern and make sure they have support. This may include additional supervision, counselling or training.
  • Update your risk register and have an action plan so that progress is reviewed and tracked. When the plan is completed, you should review how you responded to see if there’s anything you could have done better.

Occasionally, in very serious cases, it may be necessary to suspend funding while there is an ongoing investigation. You should risk assess this decision very carefully. Suspension or withdrawal of funding should only occur where, for example, it has been decided that the safest course of action is to suspend or stop the work. If you stop funding and the work continues, is likely to create a greater safeguarding risk. It may also damage your relationship with the grantee and create obstacles to an open and transparent relationship in the future. This could affect all your grantees, not just the one with the incident.

In cases where there is a serious incident or cause for concern, there is a duty to report to the appropriate regulatory body. For example, DBS or the Charity Commission. You should make sure you have confirmation in writing that this has been done. You may also need to make your own serious incident report to the Charity Commission.

Page last edited Sep 30, 2019

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