As well as providing protection for individuals, charities have a responsibility to safeguard their own reputation. It is therefore vital that they establish robust policies that are kept in constant review.
Charities that work with children and vulnerable adults, or come into contact with them, should have procedures in place to keep them safe from people that could pose as a risk. Some organisations work in more volatile environments than others, for example with young offenders or in mental health, in which case safety is a major consideration.
To ensure best practice there should be a clear understanding among staff about how to respond to concerns about a child or vulnerable adult whose welfare may be in danger. For this to work, all employees, including volunteers, must receive safeguarding training and go on regular refresher courses. It is also important for charities to use safe recruitment practices and promote open communication across the entire organisation to minimise any risk.
Safeguarding includes being aware of the protection of data and security of online computer systems. Any data stored by an organisation, including data held on a volunteer, donor, or service user, needs to be kept safe. Anyone without authority trying to gain access to vulnerable people or their records is acting illegally, and this can be extremely damaging for an organisation’s reputation.
Having a clear reporting framework and learning from past mistakes, can help inform a charity’s safeguarding networks and procedures. Responsibilities under the new General Data Protection Regulations coming into force on the 25th May 2018 also require full understanding.
Organisations can also benefit from having a board or committee member with safeguarding experience. It is important for all board and committee members to have had safeguarding training in order to guide decision making and ensuring the welfare of children and vulnerable adults is prioritised.
Following the correct procedures and having adequate insurance will mean that your organisation is best placed to deal with any potential problems and be protected should the worst happen. Finally, it is important to carry out regular reviews of all safeguarding processes, to ensure they are in line with current and best practice.
Markel’s care and health consultancy partners, Janjer, are able to provide support services in connection with this article. These range from safer recruitment training, safeguarding training and organisational safeguarding audits to assist boards or committees to better understand how their services are aligned to best practice. There are often concerns arising from within regulated services about thresholds of harm, reporting and decision making, again Janjer can provide expert advice and assistance.
Markel is the sector's premier insurance company working with charities, community groups, trustees, social enterprises and care providers. To find out more please visit www.markeluk.com/charity