When did you last review your Safeguarding policies & process?

Last week we held our first session on Safeguarding for Trustees and Managers. We have been delivering safeguarding training to our staff and volunteers for several years, and have strived to ensure that we are not only compliant but also value the importance of safeguarding within our organisation. Our experience has been that it can be very difficult to keep up to date with legislation and guidance, and many small charities struggle to understand the complexities around their individual responsibilities. In the light of our own objectives and values we have taken steps to be a safeguarding champion and offer support to volunteers, communities and partners. One of our goals will be to offer quality development opportunities with a safe environment to discuss good practice.

Trustees of charities which work with children and vulnerable adults have a duty of care to their charity which will include taking the necessary steps to safeguard and take responsibility for those children and vulnerable adults. So it is vital that they develop, implement and monitor effective safeguarding policies and procedures to protect these vulnerable beneficiaries. We will intervene in serious cases or where there has been non compliance or abuse. We urge trustees to familiarise themselves with this safeguarding strategy.

Sam Younger, Chief Executive Charity Commission (Charity Times, 2012).

Those that attended the first session were very open about their experiences and the current situations within their own environments. We had a very good discussion around trustee responsibilities and how they may be personally at a litigious risk if they do not take all reasonable steps to act in the best interests of adults and children to prevent harm.  We also discussed the thorny issue of DBS checks for trustees and the limitations of their use both in safer recruitment and under the new DBS rules.  The Charity Commission advise that DBS checks for trustees are undertaken whenever legally possible and it is best to check with the DBS if you have any concerns about when and if to do this.

At the end of a very full day, where we had discussed a whole range of good practice, I think we were all left with the feeling that we still had work to do in reviewing current practice but we were in a more positive place to do so.