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Working with your trustees

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Getting trustee support 

As CEO, you must oversee all operations and strategic plans to make sure your organisation is meeting its safeguarding responsibilities and keeping people safe. However, to do this effectively you’ll have to have buy in and support from all of of your trustees. You’ll only achieve this if your trustees fully understand what their safeguarding responsibilities are.

You can expect your trustees to have a very broad range of knowledge depending on their backgrounds. You must make sure the whole board understands safeguarding well enough to carry out their responsibilities. The Charity Commission is very clear that the responsibility for safeguarding must not be left only to a lead trustee. 

You should put procedures in place to make working with your trustees easier. The higher the safeguarding risks in your organisation, the more detail you need in all these areas.

  • Feature safeguarding on meeting agendas – it should be a standing item on all meeting agendas. 
  • Provide briefings and updates – trustees should receive regular updates via meetings, bulletins and newsletters about safeguarding practice or case reviews.
  • Appoint a lead trustee for safeguarding – this trustee champions safeguarding as a priority with the board and should support you as CEO.
  • Appoint a designated safeguarding lead – this is a member of your team who will report to the board with the CEO.
  • Offer training and development – make sure the training is relevant to the role and responsibilities of trustees.
  • Deliver quality assurance reviews – you should review policy and practice with trustees so they can identify what works well and what needs improving.
  • Consider safeguarding audits – you can commission independent audits as evidence of the boards due diligence, commitment to effective safeguarding and to help you improve practice. This is most likely to be used when you have higher safeguarding risks.
  • Complete your risk register – current and upcoming risk areas to the organisation should be regularly shared with trustees. The Charity Commission expects safeguarding risks to feature in your risk register.
  • Strategic and operational plans – safeguarding should be included in the organisation’s strategic plans.
  • Report to the board – quarterly (and annual) reports should outline key aspects of safeguarding practice in the organisation.
Example
The trustee board for Showcase Foundation meets every three months. Safeguarding is a standing agenda item on the board’s meetings. During the most recent meeting, trustees notice there has been an unusual reduction in safeguarding concerns being raised in one geographic area. This is a change from previous patterns and is not happening in any other areas. The trustees approve the designated safeguarding lead’s suggestion to conduct an internal audit of safeguarding in that area to identify what’s happening.
Speaking to staff in that particular location, the designated safeguarding lead found that a new manager was considered intimidating. Staff said they had been reporting concerns as usual, but nothing seemed to be happening. The designated safeguarding lead dealt with issues regarding the new managers approach to working with HR colleagues. They also reported to the trustees and suggested changing procedures so it was clearer to staff what to do if they felt they weren’t being listened to. 

Appointing a lead trustee for safeguarding

All trustees are responsible for safeguarding. However having a trustee to lead on safeguarding can provide great support to the CEO. The responsibilities of the lead trustee include:

  • championing safeguarding issues
  • encouraging all trustees to develop their understanding of their collective responsibilities
  • meeting regularly with the CEO and designated safeguarding lead to get strategic oversight of the organisation's safeguarding plan
  • overseeing all safeguarding allegations against staff in conjunction with the CEO and designated safeguarding lead
  • providing a point of contact in case there is a complaint about the CEO’s lack of action on safeguarding concerns
  • overseeing the monitoring, review and auditing of all safeguarding matters
  • making sure there is a seamless safeguarding reporting pathway from the bottom to the top of the organisation. 

Suitability of your board

As CEO, there are two things you need to do to make sure your board is suitable.

  • Make sure the recruitment processes for new trustees properly check for suitability and eligibility
  • Check that your current trustees are still eligible to serve on the board

As well as making the right checks and declarations when a new trustee is appointed, you should set a timescale for how often your trustees must sign declarations to confirm they’re not disqualified.

Safeguarding good governance principles

You can check the way you and your trustees work together to see if it meets these principles:

  • Be responsive

Make a policy and strategy that, at every level, is designed to support the needs of people who have experienced or may experience abuse, harm or neglect.

  • Be efficient and effective

Make the best use of the organisation’s resources to assess and improve safeguarding practice regularly.

  • Create competence and capacity

Make it possible for the people responsible for safeguarding to continually develop their skills, knowledge and abilities so they can improve the ways they keep people safe.

  • Be accountable

Make sure everyone understands their collective and individual roles and responsibilities to safeguard children and adults at risk.

  • Be open and transparent

Provide information on your implementation of safeguarding policies and any decisions you have made about safeguarding situations. This must be done in time and in the level of detail required by different agencies.

  • Follow the law

Check your policies and procedures are in line with law and legislation and with guidance issued by organisations such as your local authority or the Charity Commission. Apply these rules impartially in all situations.

  • Behave ethically

Put public good before individual interests when you create and use the measures you have in place to combat the risk of abuse and neglect.

Page last edited Oct 07, 2019

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