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Supporting safeguarding for your organisation

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Build a relationship with safeguarding

You should have a professional relationship with the person or people in charge of safeguarding at your organisation.

Safeguarding in your organisation may not be managed by a single individual – it could also be covered by a team. It might only be part of their job, so you must find out who’s responsible. This must be a priority when you start a new job. When a new designated safeguarding lead is recruited, speak to them as soon as you can, to establish a relationship between them and the communications and marketing team.

You should discuss:

  • your general safeguarding knowledge
  • their general marketing and communications knowledge
  • any specific safeguarding concerns you have about your charity or its line of work
  • whether they have any specific safeguarding concerns about your charity
  • the emerging trends and issues in safeguarding in your sector – like new legislation and best practice
  • the type of contact you have with people, especially vulnerable or at-risk individuals.
Example
Abbeville Children's Centre provides various services for school-age children and parents in its local area. Its head of communications is aware that safeguarding is important but isn’t sure what to do about it. When the charity hires a new head of safeguarding and compliance, he makes sure to have a meeting with her during her first month. They begin having quarterly catch-ups and start working with each other’s teams.

It’s also useful to speak to the charity’s leadership or trustees about forming a better link between safeguarding and marketing and communications. This shows safeguarding is being taken seriously and gives both teams space for discussion.

Review your existing policies

You don’t have to have an encyclopedic knowledge of them, but you should be familiar with your safeguarding policies and procedures.

These should be readily available to you as an employee (and to the public, which we cover in the next section). If it proves difficult to access them, this should be cause for concern and should be discussed with the safeguarding lead immediately. 

When you look at the policies, think about these questions.

  • Do I understand these? 
  • Is there anything in them that’s difficult to understand for someone who’s not a safeguarding expert?
  • Do you feel able to justify these policies to journalists or external stakeholders?
  • Are there areas or issues that don’t appear to be covered in the policies?
Example
The head of comms at Exampleton LGBTQ+ Group read the organisation’s safeguarding policy. She didn’t find any reference to trans women and was worried this might make it seem like these people’s needs were less important to the charity. The group’s safeguarding officer said that even though this group was not mentioned in the policy, they were definitely covered by it. They rewrote the ‘guide to safeguarding’ page on the website and made sure in the next review and modification of the policies, inclusive terms were used.

Think about your website

The Charity Commission states that your safeguarding policies should be publicly available. NCVO says that best practice is for the policies to be on your website. If your safeguarding policies aren’t on your website, you must think about why they’re not online yet and if there is a good reason for them not to be.

If your policies are already online, think about what is being shown on your website.

  • Is the information up-to-date? And is the safeguarding team happy with it?
  • Who is in control of that page of the website? Is it reviewed regularly, in line with any overall safeguarding reviews?
  • Is it presented in a way that makes it easy to understand and digest? You might want to include a glossary, links to statutory guidance or other explanations of it.
  • Does it include an easy-to-read version for people who have a learning difficulty?
  • Do you have any web analytics or other information about how and when these resources are accessed?

In addition to your website, there might be information on your safeguarding policy in other booklets or leaflets that your charity produces. The same questions apply to these.

Example
Youngstown Welfare Centre helps adults to access various local services and helps them with claims for benefits. Its head of partnerships, who oversees marketing, realised that its safeguarding policy was not on the website. Team members uploaded the policy onto the website, along with explanatory notes. The charity used the website refresh as a chance to communicate with users about the importance of safeguarding.

If your charity provides NHS or adult social care services, it must, by law, follow the Accessible Information Standard (AIS). 

Be proud of your safeguarding

Does your communications and marketing calendar include safeguarding? Safeguarding could be part of internal communications such as staff newsletters or employee engagement activities such as away days. 

Proactively talking to external audiences about safeguarding can encourage others to engage with the issue. This means your charity will gain a reputation for strong safeguarding measures.

Consider ways you could engage people.

  • Include information about your safeguarding policies at regular intervals on social media or newsletters.
  • Use the policy reviews and updates as a good opportunity to demonstrate that you follow best safeguarding practice.
  • Look out for opportunities to join in with safeguarding campaigns.There is an annual National Safeguarding Adults Week every November run by the Ann Craft Trust and a campaign called Stop Look Listen run by UK Youth in February. 

If you’re externally showing that your charity has strong policies and best practice, staff will feel proud of working for it. Similar activities could also work within an internal communications campaign – encouraging staff across your charity to think more about safeguarding.

Example
Loughstock Urban Village runs community development projects and is very visible in its local community, schools and public places. Its safeguarding officer updated the policies last year. The communications and marketing team took three key messages from the refresh and created a blog from its CEO about these. This was promoted on social media and service user newsletters, and a document explaining the changes was provided when staff visited schools. Positive feedback about the campaign was shared with staff internally.

Be prepared for a crisis

Safeguarding is so fundamental to effective running of charities, that any significant failure in this area is likely to attract damaging media attention.

Apply the ‘front-page test’. If something safeguarding related was to go wrong, what is the worst possible story about it that could appear on the front page of a newspaper? You must be prepared to deal with the worst-case scenario. If you don’t have a crisis communications plan in place, either for general or safeguarding-specific issues, you should consider creating one. 

Things to include in a plan.

  • Your on call and out-of-hours rota. What senior support would be available in the case of an incident involving media attention?
  • Contact details for the safeguarding team. They should be told that they may need to be available to help at short notice, in the case of a crisis.
  • What you’d tell journalists. Think about whether your response to certain scenarios might be strengthened by specific reference to safeguarding policies.
  • How you’ll respond, based on the nature of the incident. 
Example
Brinsden Housing Alliance (BHA), a housing charity, had been in the news following a safeguarding failure. Its CEO was criticised by a respected journalist for appearing unprepared and unwilling to respond to the matter. Another housing charity, Houses@River, worried how it would cope with a similar issue. A simple crisis plan was put together. The Houses@River CEO and colleagues felt reassured that they would be able to respond in a better way if a similar issue occurred.

Resources

Page last edited Sep 30, 2019

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