Safeguarding Policy

Friends International Safeguarding Policy

Friends International (FI) is a Christian mission agency seeking to mobilise churches to reach out to international students for Christ. FI recognises that within the course of their activities, our staff and volunteers may come into contact with children or adults at risk. We are committed to ensuring the safety and physical and emotional wellbeing of international students, staff and volunteers and seek to protect children and adults at risk from any harm by way of physical, emotional or mental neglect, damage or abuse.

FI seeks to maintain its responsibilities to safeguarding and is committed to providing a clear and accessible safeguarding structure for its staff and volunteers. This means taking appropriate prompt action to protect individuals from harm and to respond to any allegations or suspicions.

FI has adopted the procedures set out in this safeguarding policy in accordance with statutory guidance. We are committed to building constructive links with statutory and voluntary agencies involved in safeguarding children and vulnerable adults. FI undertakes to:

  • Ensure that staff receive regular training and/or support for this aspect of their work. This will be undertaken during new staff training and incorporated in the annual training sessions
  • Train all staff and volunteers in safeguarding children and adults at risk. This will be undertaken by thirtyone:eight (https://thirtyoneeight.org/) At all times FI will seek to follow guidance from thirtyone:eight and will seek advice from that organisation when necessary
  • Provide Safeguarding care and support to all who come to our activities and events

The policy sets out how FI will deal with concerns that are raised that an individual may be at risk of exploitation, harm or abuse, and the type of action that FI may take to manage such matters and provide support. 

PURPOSE

The purpose of the policy is:

  • to protect adults at risk who engage with FI from harm
  • to provide staff and volunteers with the overarching principles that guide our approach to safeguarding adults at risk
  • to provide a framework that ensures allegations or suspicions are dealt with appropriately

The policy is particularly important in the regulated activity/work that the organisation does with children and adults at risk. The organisation does not normally work directly with children but acknowledges that there are times when a child might accompany an adult to a FI gathering. In such instances the child must be in the presence of that adult at all times and the adult must take responsibility for the welfare of that child.

Scope

This policy is designed to assist FI to achieve the commitments set out above and to take reasonable steps to safeguard those who are at risk by ensuring there are clear guidelines and procedures for identifying risk, reporting concerns and taking action.

In the UK, safeguarding is the action that is taken to protect the welfare of children and adults at risk, enabling them to live free from harm, abuse and neglect. It means taking all reasonable steps to prevent harm, exploitation, abuse and harassment from occurring and to respond appropriately when harm does occur.

  • The organisation complies with all the legal obligations placed upon it by the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 (England and Wales) and the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Act 2007 and The Safeguarding Board (2011 Act) (Commencement No. 1) Order (Northern Ireland) 2012
  • The policy covers the arrangements for safeguarding during the recruitment and selection process and safeguarding issues that arise during employment in circumstances where children or vulnerable adults are placed at risk, or where they could have been placed at risk
  • The policy also sets out the reporting obligations for all employees and the procedure that should be followed to report abuse if this occurs to one of the organisation’s service users

IDENTIFYING SAFEGUARDING CONCERNS

FI will take all safeguarding concerns including suspicions and allegations of exploitation, harm or abuse seriously and will report concerns promptly, in accordance with the Policy.

  • FI will ensure that processes are in place to check the suitability of staff and volunteers whose duties and responsibilities involve regular contact with those we work with – international students
  • FI will ensure that appropriate suitability checks are carried out in relation to staff and volunteers including checks where appropriate. Details of these processes and checks are included in the recruitment process both for staff and volunteers
  • Safeguarding referrals to the relevant statutory authority will be made on the basis of identified and considered risk
  • All staff with safeguarding concerns will consider what support may be offered to them both from within FI (e.g. member care) and externally (e.g. signposting to the GP or mental health services or to the police if it is a criminal offence)

Training

FI seeks to have a culture that demonstrates good awareness of safeguarding. All staff and volunteers will receive training and guidance in safeguarding. This policy and the procedures will be accessible to all. Related guidance for volunteers is included in the volunteer’s recruitment guide.

All our staff receive induction training and undertake recognised safeguarding training and resources will be made available, with the use of materials from thirtyone:eight, local experts and in-house refresher training.

Safeguarding Code of Conduct

FI is committed to providing a safe environment for the work that we do, in all our events and activities. Our code of conduct is aimed at seeking to implement the safeguarding principles and to help us demonstrate these values and beliefs. These principles should be upheld by us as a core of our mission and values as an organisation. We therefore expect that everyone who works for FI will read and comply with these recommendations. The recommendations are:

  • Be familiar with this policy and the associated procedures and comply with them at all times  
  • Plan activities and events in areas where others are present and if it helps, at a time when other activities are occurring
  • Treat everyone with dignity and respect at all times  
  • All effort should be taken to ensure other adults are aware of when and where you are spending time with international students
  • Contribute to maintaining a safe working environment. It is best to work in a group setting and not to be alone for long periods of time with one person
  • Seek regular accountability and supervision in all your relationships. Arrange to be accountable to others as regards your interaction with international students
  • Give due respect to cultural differences
  • Use appropriate language and beware of your body language. Avoid using inappropriate language or allow others to use it without challenging it.
  • Be alert to challenge inappropriate behaviour, including peer-to-peer behaviours. Abusive behaviour such as bullying (including cyber-bullying), ridiculing or aggression must not be allowed to go unchallenged  
  • Raise concerns with your supervisor if you notice any issues about the attitude or actions of staff and volunteers in relation to this Code of Conduct  
  • Inform the Safeguarding Coordinator of all safeguarding concerns without delay  
  • It is advisable not to engage in any physical ‘adult’ relationship with a person to whom you are in a position of trust, even if they give their consent  

What is abuse?

Given the risk of abuse to children and vulnerable adults, all employees are to be alert to and aware at all times of the possibility of abuse towards children or beneficiaries (International Students).

Abuse may be a single incident or something that occurs over a long period of time. It can take many forms including, but not limited to:

  • financial or material abuse
  • physical abuse
  • mental abuse
  • neglect and failures to act
  • sexual abuse
  • threats of abuse or harm
  • controlling or intimidating conduct
  • self-neglect
  • domestic abuse
  • poor practices within an organisation providing care
  • modern slavery

The abuse may come from employees, volunteers, personal assistants, service users, relatives, neighbours, social workers, providers of support services etc.

Cultural Sensitivity

FI aims to work in ways which are culturally sensitive and respect the diverse nature of the international students we work for. We recognise that there are many ways of taking care of and protecting children and adults, and we will seek to safeguard them in ways which are culturally sensitive and appropriate to the context.

We believe that everyone matters, and that culture must never be used as a reason or excuse to abuse children or adults. We acknowledge that protecting children and adults within the legal framework required of FI as a UK based organisation, and as articulated in this Policy, while being culturally sensitive can be a difficult balancing act, as understandings of what is harmful may differ. The Safeguarding Coordinators should be consulted for further guidance as necessary.

ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

The following are the general roles and responsibilities held by different positions in FI with regard specifically to safeguarding.

Trustees

The lead trustee for Safeguarding is Stroma Beattie

Contact through email [email protected]

Safeguarding Coordinator and the team

All safeguarding concerns will be reported to the Safeguarding Coordinator. However, the main responsibility for safeguarding lies with the Directors (and ultimately with Board of Trustees). The following individuals form the Safeguarding team which deals with all concerns related to safeguarding:

  • Judy Luhombo – Safeguarding Coordinator

She is the lead person with responsibility for raising the profile of safeguarding in FI and will advise FI on any matters related to the safeguarding of children and adults at risk taking the appropriate action when abuse is disclosed, discovered or suspected.

Phone number: 01920 460006

Email address: [email protected]

Deputy Safeguarding Coordinators

The Deputy Safeguarding Co-ordinators are the Regional Development Directors (RDDs). These will cover in the absence of the Safeguarding Co-ordinator e.g., when on holiday, share the load (particularly when it involves volunteers and other local situations) and they will act as a point of contact for local safeguarding concerns, receiving information and liaising those concerns with the Safeguarding Coordinator; as well as monitoring the implementation of this Policy and procedure.

Their contacts are:

Safeguarding Coordinators are responsible for ensuring that the reporting procedure is followed so that suspected or actual cases of abuse are responded to appropriately and referred to the relevant statutory authority when needed.

To ensure that all such situations are handled appropriately and effectively: all sensitive and personal data must be kept confidential (including the names of anyone who makes a report of abuse) and be shared on a strictly ‘need to know basis’, that is, access must be necessary for the conduct of one’s official duties.

In the setting of a local centre, a member of staff should normally report any safeguarding concern in the first instance to your supervisor. Each local centre will be made aware of their own local safeguarding procedure.

If the Safeguarding Coordinator is not available, or the safeguarding concern involves a concern against your supervisor, then the referral should be made directly to the RDD. If the concern is about an RDD or they are not available, then contact the National Director directly (contact: Alan Tower – [email protected]).

Responsibilities of the Safeguarding Coordinators

In addition to the explicit responsibilities for the Safeguarding Coordinators listed above, each local centre has a responsibility to ensure staff are aware of FIs safeguarding principles and procedures (including this Policy) and are able to refer concerns appropriately. Furthermore, supervisors and staff will promote awareness of safeguarding with volunteers to reduce the potential for abuse and to promote wellbeing.

Reporting Safeguarding Concerns

  • Act upon concerns and allegations involving safeguarding
  • Report concerns and allegations to your supervisor and act upon the advice of the Safeguarding Coordinator
  • Act in a timely manner, taking account of the perceived level of risk, when a supervisor, or Safeguarding Coordinator or the RDD is not available
  • Record concerns, analysis of concerns, information, decisions, actions, clearly and promptly and keep a log on the file of work in progress
  • Support safeguarding investigations or plans by sharing information appropriately and working to the plan with the person involved
  • Ensure the supervisor responsible is aware of changes that might affect the perceived level of risk, and generally work with the guidance and within the decisions of the supervisor
  • Report any concerns about safeguarding practice of a colleague to the person’s supervisor in the first instance

 

RESPONDING TO ALLEGATIONS

Employees that suspect abuse is occurring should refer the matter to their supervisor immediately, with as much detail as possible.

Under no circumstances should a staff member or volunteer carry out their own investigation into an allegation or suspicion of abuse but should follow the procedure below:

  • The person in receipt of allegations or suspicions of abuse should report concerns (see Appendix Part 1) as soon as possible to the RDD (cc. Safeguarding Coordinator). In the absence of the Safeguarding Coordinator or, if the suspicions in any way involve the Safeguarding Coordinator, then the report should be made directly to the National Director ([email protected])
  • The Safeguarding Coordinator may need to inform others depending on the circumstances and/or nature of the concern (for example the Safeguarding Trustee) to log that a safeguarding concern is being dealt with
  • Suspicions must not be discussed with anyone other than those nominated above. A written record of the concerns should be made in accordance with these procedures and kept confidentially by the Safeguarding Coordinator
  • Allegations or suspicions of abuse will normally be reported to the Safeguarding Coordinator, but in their absence or the RDDs cannot be reached, this should not cause delay with an urgent situation, take advice from thirtyone:eight
  • Any information the Safeguarding Coordinator may have in their possession will be shared in a strictly limited way on a ‘need-to-know’ basis
  • Always direct concerns through the safeguarding coordinators. If, however, an individual with the concern feels that the Safeguarding Coordinator(s) has not responded appropriately, or where they have a disagreement with the Safeguarding Coordinator(s) as to the appropriateness of a referral they are free to contact thirtyone:eight directly for advice
  • The Safeguarding Coordinator may need to liaise with other statutory bodies, depending on the information received (for example the Police, Social Services or LADO – Local Authority Designated Officer)

The role of the safeguarding coordinator(s) is to collate and clarify the precise details of the allegation or suspicion and if necessary, pass this information on to statutory agencies that have a legal duty to investigate, like the police.

If a member of the FI, has any immediate safeguarding concerns especially where medical attention is needed or a criminal act, then they may refer directly to the Police or Social Services, but otherwise they should follow the internal referral process described in this Policy. If a direct referral is made, the member of staff or student should inform the Safeguarding Coordinator at the earliest opportunity.

The Safeguarding Coordinator will liaise with other partner agencies as appropriate in order to address the safeguarding concerns identified.

Confidentiality

All information relating to safeguarding concerns will be managed in a confidential and sensitive way. This must not prevent or delay relevant information about abuse or concerns being shared with the Safeguarding Coordinator(s) when following the FI Safeguarding procedures in order to safeguard a child or adult at risk of harm.

  • FI will follow the information sharing protocols as stipulated in our policy
  • FI complies with the principles of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR – UK) in the way that it retains and disposes of personal information

Supporting those affected by abuse

FI is committed to offering pastoral care, and support to all those who have been affected by abuse who have contact with or are part of FI.

Support from internal or external services, such as the local safeguarding authority, will be provided as appropriate for any individuals, staff or students, impacted by safeguarding issues (contact details below)

Review of Policy and Procedure

FI will review this procedure on an annual basis and is responsible for overseeing and updating this policy and procedure particularly with respect to the legal obligations and other external requirements. (Next review September 2023)

Important Contacts

Internal contacts

Safeguarding Coordinator

Judy Luhombo [email protected]

Deputy Safeguarding Coordinators (Regional Development Directors)

Pete Edwards [email protected]

Iván Neira ivá[email protected]

Sarah Dawkins [email protected]

National Director

Alan Tower [email protected]

External helplines

thirtyone:eight [email protected]

An independent Christian charity which helps individuals, organisations, charities, faith and community groups to protect vulnerable people from abuse.  See also Where we work | Thirtyone:eight (thirtyoneeight.org) (you can get advice for the different countries)

Helplines across N. Ireland

Christian helplines

christianhelplines.co.uk

A helpline directory of the Partnership Helplines

Helplines Partnership


This document was last updated September 2022.