Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults Policy

Introduction

Hope Church meets weekly on Sunday mornings in our main church hall with a congregation of adults, families, and children. During the service, we run a Sunday School, open to children from 5 to 16, for children of members of the congregation, and children from the local area; and a crèche for children under five.

In addition, during the week we run after school clubs and youth groups on the church premises for children and young people between the ages of 5 and 16 from the local community. We are also involved providing support to run clubs and children’s activities on local school premises. Children have the opportunity to play games, take part in sport and craft activities as well as music, dance and drama. In the summer holidays we provide our young people with the opportunity to join residentials run by organisations with long experience in providing fully risk assessed adventurous and other play activities.

Our aim is that young people attending our groups have fun and have the opportunity to learn more about the Christian way of life, as well as gaining life skills, based on sound moral and ethical values.

We have both paid and volunteer children’s workers who are subject to the safeguarding policies described in the rest of this policy.

This policy is based on the CCPAS Model Safeguarding Policy © CCPAS 2009

Our Commitment

We recognise the need to provide a safe and caring environment for children, young people and vulnerable adults.   We acknowledge that children, young people and vulnerable adults can be the victims of physical, sexual and emotional abuse, and neglect.

We accept the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant of Human Rights, which states that everyone is entitled to “all the rights and freedoms set forth therein, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status”.  We also concur with the Convention on the Rights of the Child which states that children should be able to develop their full potential, free from hunger and want, neglect and abuse. They have a right to be protected from “all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s), or any other person who has care of the child.”

We have therefore adopted the procedures set out in this safeguarding policy in accordance with statutory guidance.  We are committed to build constructive links with statutory and voluntary agencies involved in safeguarding.

The policy and attached practice guidelines are based on the ten Safe and Secure safeguarding standards published by the Churches’ Child Protection Advisory Service (CCPAS).

Hope Church undertakes to:

  • endorse and  follow  all  national  and  local  safeguarding  legislation  and  procedures,  in addition to the international conventions outlined above.
  • provide on-going safeguarding training for all its workers and will regularly review the operational guidelines attached.
  • ensure that the premises meet the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and all other relevant legislation, and that it is welcoming and inclusive.
  • support the Safeguarding Coordinator(s) in their work and in any action they may need to take in order to protect children and vulnerable adults.
  • file a  copy  of  the  policy  and  practice  guidelines  and  any  amendments  subsequently

published with CCPAS and the local authority (Nottingham City Council Children’s Play Services). The Church Council agrees not to allow the document to be copied by other organisations.

 

Procedure

Recognising and responding appropriately to an allegation or suspicion of abuse

Understanding abuse and neglect

Defining child abuse or abuse against a vulnerable adult is a difficult and complex issue. A person may abuse by inflicting harm, or failing to prevent harm. Children and adults in need of protection may be abused within a family, an institution, or a community setting. Very often the abuser is known or in a trusted relationship with the child or vulnerable adult.

In order to safeguard those in our places of worship and organisations we adhere to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and have as our starting point as a definition of abuse, Article 19 which states:

  1. Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child.
  2. Such protective measures should, as appropriate, include effective procedures for the establishment of social programmes to provide necessary support for the child and for those who have the care of the child, as well as for other forms of prevention and for identification, reporting, referral, investigation, treatment and follow-up of instances of child maltreatment described heretofore, and, as appropriate, for judicial involvement.

Also for adults the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights with particular reference to Article 5 which states:

“No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

Detailed definitions, and signs and symptoms of abuse, as well as how to respond to a disclosure of abuse, are included here in our policy.

  • Definitions of abuse: See Appendix 3
  • Signs and symptoms of abuse: See Appendix 4
  • How to respond to a child wishing to disclose abuse: See Appendix 5

Safeguarding Awareness

Hope Church is committed to on-going safeguarding training and development opportunities for all workers, developing a culture of awareness of safeguarding issues to help protect everyone. All our workers will receive induction training and undertake recognised safeguarding training on a regular basis.

Hope Church will also ensure that children and vulnerable adults are provided with information on where to get help and advice in relation to abuse, discrimination, bullying or any other matter where they have a concern.

Responding to Allegations of Abuse

Under no circumstances should a worker carry out their own investigation into an allegation or suspicion of abuse.  Rather you must follow the procedures set out below:

  • The person in receipt of allegations or suspicions of abuse should report concerns as soon as possible to the Hope Church Trustees by emailing Trustees@hopechurchnottingham.org who will deal with the allegation or suspicion of neglect or abuse, including referring the matter on to the statutory authorities.
  • If the suspicions implicate the Hope Church Trustees, then the report should be made in the first instance to the Churches’ Child Protection Advisory Service (CCPAS) PO Box 133, Swanley, Kent, BR8 7UQ. Telephone 0845 120 4550. Alternatively contact Social Services or the police.
  • Where the concern is about a child, Hope Church Trustees should contact Children’s Social Services. Where the concern is regarding an adult in need of protection contact Adult Social Services or take advice from CCPAS as above.
  • Suspicions must not be discussed with anyone other than those nominated above.
  • A written record of concerns should be made in accordance with these procedures and kept in a secure place.
  • Whilst allegations or suspicions of abuse will normally be reported to the Hope Church Trustees, the absence of a response should not delay referral to Social Services, the Police or taking advice from CCPAS.
  • Any information shared with the Hope Church Trustees will be handled confidentially and shared in a strictly limited way on a need to know basis.

Contact Numbers:

Nottingham Children’s Social Services

Office telephone number (office hours) is:                                   0115 915 1006

The out of hours emergency number is:                                        0115 915 9299

Nottingham Adult Social Services

Office telephone number (office hours) is:                                    0115 883 8460

The out of hours   emergency number is:                                       0115 883 8460

The Police Child Protection Team telephone number is:              0115 967 0999

It is, of course, the right of any individual as a citizen to make a direct referral to the safeguarding agencies or seek advice from CCPAS, although Hope Church hope that individuals will use this procedure.

If, however, the individual with the concern feels that the Hope Church Trustees have not responded appropriately, or where they have a disagreement with Hope Church Trustees as to the appropriateness of a referral they are free to contact an outside agency direct.

We hope by making this statement that Hope Church demonstrate its commitment to effective safeguarding and the protection of all those who are vulnerable.

The role of the Hope Church Trustees is to collate and clarify the precise details of the allegation or suspicion and pass this information on to statutory agencies who have a legal duty to investigate.

Child Specific Procedures

Our detailed procedures where there is a concern about a child are described below:

Allegations of Physical Injury, Neglect or Emotional Abuse

If a child has a physical injury, a symptom of neglect or where there are concerns about emotional abuse, the Hope Church Trustees will:

  • Contact Children’s Social Services (or CCPAS) for advice in cases of deliberate injury, if concerned about a child’s safety or if a child is afraid to return home.
  • Not tell the parents or carers unless advised to do so, having contacted Children’s Social Services.
  • Seek medical help if needed urgently, informing the doctor of any suspicions.
  • For lesser concerns, (e.g. poor parenting), encourage parent/carer to seek help, but not if this places the child at risk of significant harm.
  • Where the parent/carer is unwilling to seek help, offer to accompany them. In cases of real concern, if they still fail to act, contact Children’s Social Services direct for advice.
  • Seek and follow advice given by CCPAS (who will confirm their advice in writing) if unsure whether or not to refer a case to Children’s Social Services.

Allegations of Sexual Abuse

In the event of allegations or suspicions of sexual abuse, the Hope Church Trustees will:

  • Contact the Children’s Social Services Department Duty Social Worker for children and families or Police Child Protection Team direct. They will NOT speak to the parent/carer or anyone else.
  • Seek and follow the advice given by CCPAS if, for any reason they are unsure whether or not to contact Children’s Social Services/Police. CCPAS will confirm its advice in writing for future reference.

Allegations of Abuse Against A Person Who Works With Children

If an accusation is made against a worker (whether a volunteer or paid member of staff) whilst following the procedure outlined above, the Hope Church Trustees, in accordance with Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) procedures will need to liaise with Children’s Social Services in regards to the suspension of the worker, also making a referral to a Safeguarding Adviser (SA) / Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO).

Note: Working Together 2006 Sections 6.20 – 6.30 [Allegations of abuse made against a person who works with children] states that local authorities should have a designated officer to manage cases where an accusation is made against someone working with children (whether working in a paid or voluntary capacity). These individuals are often known as Safeguarding Advisers or Local Authority Designated Officers. Where accusations involve a worker then speak to social services and the police and ask whether the individual needs to be referred.

In addition to this, whether or not there are such mechanisms in operation, consideration should be given to whether a referral should be made to the ISA Vetting and Barring Scheme lists of those people deemed unsuitable for working with children or vulnerable adults. Where you are liaising with a SA / LADO discuss with them about the need to refer to the ISA.

Vulnerable Adult Specific Procedures

Suspicions or Allegations of Physical or Sexual Abuse

If a vulnerable adult has a physical injury or symptom of sexual abuse the Hope Church Trustees will:

  • Discuss any concerns with the individual themselves giving due regard to their autonomy, privacy and rights to lead an independent life.
  • If the vulnerable adult is in immediate danger or has sustained a serious injury contact the Emergency Services, informing them of any suspicions.
  • For advice  contact  the  Adult  Social  Care  Vulnerable  Adults  Team  who  have responsibility under Section 47 of the NHS and Community Care Act 1990 and government guidance, ‘No Secrets’, to investigate allegations of abuse. Alternatively CCPAS can be contacted for advice.

Prevention

Safe recruitment

Hope Church will ensure all workers will be appointed, trained, supported and supervised in accordance with government guidance on safe recruitment.   This includes ensuring that:

  • There is a written job description / person specification for the post
  • Those applying have completed an application form and a self-declaration form
  • Those short listed have been interviewed
  • Safeguarding has been discussed at interview
  • Written references have been obtained, and followed up where appropriate
  • A disclosure and barring check has been completed (we will comply with Code of Practice requirements concerning the fair treatment of applicants and the handling of information)
  • Qualifications where relevant have been verified
  • A suitable training programme is provided for the successful applicant
  • The applicant has completed a probationary period
  • The applicant has been given a copy of the organisation’s safeguarding policy and knows how to report concerns.

Codes of Conduct and Hope Church Policies and Procedures

The code of conduct and all applicable Policies and Procedures apply to all employees and volunteers of Hope Church working with Children and Vulnerable Adults.

Hope Church undertakes to follow the principles found within the ‘Abuse Of Trust ‘guidance issued by the Home Office and it is therefore unacceptable for those in a position of trust to engage in any behaviour which might allow a sexual relationship to develop for as long as the relationship of trust continues.

Pastoral Care

Supporting those affected by abuse

Hope Church is committed to offering pastoral care, working with statutory agencies as appropriate, and support to all those who have been affected by abuse who have contact with or are part of the place of worship / organisation.

Working with offenders

When someone attending the place of worship / organisation is known to have abused children, or is known to be a risk to vulnerable adults the Church Council will supervise the individual concerned and offer pastoral care, but in its safeguarding commitment to the protection of children and vulnerable adults, set boundaries for that person which they will be expected to keep.

Recruitment of Ex-Offenders

The Hope Church criminal records policy applies to all employees and volunteers working with Children and Vulnerable Adults.

Practice Guidelines

As an organisation /place of worship working with children, young people and vulnerable adults we wish to operate and promote good working practice. This will enable workers to run activities safely, develop good relationships and minimise the risk of false accusation.

  • Hope Church will always strive to uphold and promote good practices in the protection of children and vulnerable people.
  • It is the policy of the group that no activities or service will involve unsupervised access to children or vulnerable people by either workers or volunteers.
  • However, we are strongly committed to the protection of children and other people involved in the group’s activities.
  • We will at all times have a nominated Child Protection Coordinator and provide information to members and users about this.
  • We will DBS check all volunteers and staff who work with children and vulnerable people.
  • We will actively seek training opportunities to develop effective policies to protect all users of our services, particularly children and vulnerable people.

Working in Partnership

The diversity of organisations and settings means there can be great variation in practice when it comes to safeguarding children, young people and vulnerable adults. This can be because of cultural tradition, belief and religious practice or understanding, for example, of what constitutes abuse.

We therefore have clear guidelines in regards to our expectations of those with whom we work in partnership, whether in the UK or not. We will discuss with all partners our safeguarding expectations which will be considered non-negotiable.  It is also our expectation that any organisation using our premises, as part of the letting agreement will have their own policy that meets CCPAS’ safeguarding standards.

Good communication is essential in promoting safeguarding, both to those we wish to protect, to everyone involved in working with children and vulnerable adults and to all those with whom we work in partnership. This safeguarding policy is just one means of promoting safeguarding.