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Planning for safeguarding in your organisation

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Your safeguarding policy

Your organisation needs to have the right safeguarding policy in place when working with volunteers. As a volunteer manager you should check that your safeguarding policy and procedures:

  • use language that include volunteers as being both at risk of harm and potentially harmful to others 
  • make it clear that safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility and that this will be proportionate to their role
  • make it clear to volunteers what their safeguarding responsibilities are and how they raise concerns or report issues or concerns 
  • explain to volunteers that they have a right to be safe from harm in your organisation, including from staff, other volunteers and from your organisation's beneficiaries
  • explain to volunteers that they should always speak up and that the spirit of any whistleblowing policy is to protect them when they speak up even though they don't have the same legal rights as employees.
Example
Bettertown Activities runs two very different programmes. It runs midweek coffee mornings that are open to the general public but marketed particularly at older people who are lonely or isolated. It also runs afternoon drop-ins for mums and their toddlers. It has a safeguarding policy and procedures for each strand of activity. The coffee morning programme focuses on safeguarding adults at risk whilst the afternoon programme focuses on safeguarding both children and adults at risk. The organisers know from experience that many of the mums who attend experience postnatal depression or other mental health issues. Both policies set out the role of all volunteers at each session. They also highlight the role of the designated safeguarding lead and their deputies (there is always one present) as a first point of contact for any concerns.

You also need to make sure that your safeguarding policies and procedures:

  • are publicised widely in ways that are easy for volunteers to use. 
  • are understood and volunteers are comfortable and confident to use them. 
Example
Kickit football club has many parents as volunteers and found that making sure everyone remembered their key responsibilities was difficult. They decided to develop a colourful, laminated pocket guide for all volunteers and handed it out. The pocket guide had a short version of the Code of Conduct and key steps to take if someone shares a safeguarding disclosure, allegation or concern. This included contact details of who to report to. 

If your organisation needs to write a safeguarding policy or carry out a full review so it’s inclusive of volunteers, you may need detailed guidance.

Your approach to volunteering

You need to make the place of volunteers in your organisation clear throughout its strategies, policies and procedures. One way to do this is to have a volunteer strategy, another is to make sure your approach to volunteers is embedded into other organisational plans.

However you achieve this, your plans should cover safeguarding from a range of angles. You should:

  • have a framework for including volunteers which covers safeguarding issues relevant to your work – such as ratios of volunteers to people they are supporting or lone working 
  • have suitably skilled and experienced people with appropriate understanding of safeguarding responsible for volunteers and volunteering 
  • have a process for making sure volunteers understand your organisation’s culture including its commitment to safeguarding
  • set out how you work out the risks and responsibilities of different roles including safeguarding responsibilities
  • make clear what insurance you have in place
  • make sure you include elements of safer recruitment that fits the roles on offer when you find and select new volunteers 
  • set out how you plan to keep volunteers safe from all types of harm
  • set out how you plan to review the impact of volunteering in keeping people safe and use any lessons for improvement. 
Example
After Hours specialises in out-of-school activities for 10-16 year olds, run by 30 paid sessional staff. The trustees decided they wanted to increase their capacity by recruiting 10 volunteers for support sessions. They included this goal in their business plan and spent a year working on getting it right. A lead staff member worked with trustees and local advisers to create an action plan and budget. They made sure there was the right type of recruitment, induction and support for the new volunteers whilst also maintaining their commitment to safeguarding. Now they are working on a volunteer strategy for further improvement. 

For more information on finding the right insurance. See the insurance section of our guide for director of operations.

Other policies

Your safeguarding policy and procedures sit alongside other policies which are equally important to making sure you run a safer organisation. 

As a volunteer manager, you need to make sure that:

  • all policies have been written in a way so that volunteers recognise that their role and responsibilities are different to staff or other people the organisation works with 
  • all volunteers know how to access and use the full policies
  • all volunteers have read and understood or have been trained on the policies that are relevant to their roles 
  • all volunteers have access to supervision, support and reminders that help them put the policies into practice 
  • your policies do not contradict each other.
Example
Finefields Playing Fields Trust volunteer manager carried out a policy review to see if the organisation’s policies were up to date. They rarely work with unaccompanied young people, but the trustees had recently been discussing developing an environmental volunteering scheme for 10-16 year olds. Both their health and safety policy and their safeguarding policy had been downloaded and adapted from templates. The volunteer manager discovered that one policy recommended a ratio of one adult to 10 under 16s whilst the other recommended at least two adults at all times for any mixed age group. The manager updated the health and safety policy to refer to NSPCC guidance so that ratios can be set for different schemes as the details emerge.

External agreements

When you’re working in partnership with other organisations, you must make sure you set out a clear understanding of how you’ll work on safeguarding together. 

Page last edited Oct 03, 2019

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