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Roles and responsibilities

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Use this page to understand why you might want to have a designated safeguarding lead. It also sets out other key roles you need people to play to create a safer organisation.

Getting everyone involved

Safeguarding is most successful when everyone knows their rights. You should make it clear to all staff, volunteers, people you work with or those who make donations that you intend to keep them safe. They must know they have a right to ask questions and know who to tell if they think something is not right.

Everyone needs to play their part in keeping children and adults at risk safe. To do safeguarding well, you must make sure people take on the right roles and responsibilities.

  • Want introductory advice about to help everyone think about safeguarding? Use our getting people involved page.
  • Need an overview of the roles different teams should play? Creating a safer organisation is written for CEOs but could be useful to anyone thinking about how to embed good safeguarding practice across their organisation. 
  • At a medium or larger organisation? We have a range of specialist guides for specific roles including CEOs and managers working in marketing and communication, fundraising, HR or leading operations.

Designated safeguarding lead

Having a designated safeguarding lead in the organisation is the absolute minimum you need to do safeguarding well. This person should attend training to help them carry out their role. A designated safeguarding lead is responsible for managing referrals to social services, reporting when problems are discovered and keeping internal records up to date.

In a small organisation, a designated safeguarding lead will usually be a trustee or management committee member. Even though this person may have multiple responsibilities in your organisation, their role as a designated safeguarding lead should be taken seriously and not seen as an ‘add-on’ to their other work. Depending on what your organisation does, you may have different leads for safeguarding adults and children. In a larger organisation, they may be a staff member.

The designated safeguarding lead must connect with the local authority to keep up-to-date with the separate processes for children and adults at risk. If your organisation works with children regularly and follows the ‘Working together to safeguard children’ guidelines, there are additional responsibilities. The same is true if you work regularly with adults at risk.

Trustee support and involvement

One trustee takes the lead, but all trustees need to have an awareness of safeguarding and lead by example. This means showing commitment to upholding your code of conduct and making safeguarding part of all the planning your organisation does.

Trustees should model best practice in relation to:

  • safeguarding
  • bullying
  • sexual harassment
  • good record-keeping
  • creating a supportive atmosphere where people feel able to report concerns
  • listening to staff and volunteers.

Further guidance

External support

You should make sure you know about the help available outside your organisation. It’s useful to become a member of a safeguarding network that’s connected to your location or the type of work you do. You will always have local authority contacts who have a responsibility to help. There are also national helplines to turn to.

Explore the support available locally and nationally

Page last edited Jun 18, 2021

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