Charity Management: What is a Safeguarding Policy?
Almost every charity or not for profit organisation should have a proper safeguarding policy. As a charity, you probably deal with vulnerable people or sensitive information while carrying out your work.
This might mean working with children, at-risk adults, or simply processing and storing sensitive personal data. In any case, a safeguarding policy helps to protect your service users, your staff, and the wider community.
Your safeguarding policy also helps to protect your charity’s reputation.
With that in mind, today we’ll look at everything you need to know about charity safeguarding. Let’s start with the basics.
What is a Safeguarding Policy?
Your safeguarding policy is a document which outlines any potential risks to your service users, staff, volunteers, and stakeholders, as well as how these risks should be mitigated. This must be available to all relevant people.
In other words, your safeguarding policy sets out all the things your charity does to keep people safe.
Additionally, an effective safeguarding policy must be easily understood by all readers. This means that there should be sufficient detail and clarity for your staff to use it throughout their daily work. Service users should also be able to fully read and understand it.
While your policies may change over time, it’s important to keep a clear record of these changes. You’ll also need to have a clear plan in place to communicate all changes to your safeguarding policy.
What Should a Safeguarding Policy Include?
Naturally, what you include in your safeguarding policy depends on who you work with, and the type of work you carry out. At the outset, you should have a clear picture of:
Who you work with,
What kind of work you carry out,
The risks involved,
The level of risk.
To achieve this, your safeguarding policy should answer the following questions:
What situations do risks occur, or become more urgent?
Who do these risks impact?
How do you choose the people you work with?
How can someone raise a concern?
How do you respond to concerns or allegations of harm?
Is everyone in your organisation aware of how to prevent harm?
Essentially then, your safeguarding policy includes two main areas:
How you prevent harm from occurring,
What you do if harm has occurred.
Your reporting procedures are one of the most important elements of your safeguarding policy. This is how people can raise a concern or an allegation of harm, as well as how your organisation responds.
An effective reporting procedure includes information on:
Who to speak to,
How to report issues or concerns,
How information is stored and shared,
Which external bodies will have access to information,
How concerns will be shared internally.
Again, all service users, staff, volunteers and other stakeholders should clearly understand and know how to use your reporting procedures.
Safeguarding Codes of Conduct
As part of your safeguarding policy, you should also provide codes of conduct for your staff and volunteers. These codes outline what is expected of them, as well as what is acceptable behaviour.
Your code of conduct should also outline what constitutes unsafe or unprofessional behaviour.
When creating safeguarding codes of conduct for your charity, you should:
Involve your staff and volunteers in the process,
Ensure all staff and volunteers know how to follow your codes,
Outline what will happen if your code of conduct is breached,
Include specific expectations for different roles, where relevant,
Keep a record that all staff and volunteers have accessed your codes of conduct.
How to Write a Charity Safeguarding Policy
Now that you understand what a safeguarding policy is and what it should include, we can look in more detail at how to create an effective policy. To make this easier, we’ll examine each of the individual sections that your safeguarding policy should include.
Purpose and Aims
Here, you should outline the specific goals of your policy, as well as the overarching goals of your organisation. Naturally, this should include a commitment to preventing harm and keeping your staff, your volunteers, your members and service users safe.
The scope of your safeguarding policy is essentially who it applies to. For example, your safeguarding policy may only apply to your front line staff. Alternatively, it may apply to back-office workers, volunteers or even external stakeholders.
Your scope may even outline that there are certain expectations put on your service users, for example if you run group sessions with different people at the same time.
It’s also important to place your safeguarding policy in the wider legal context. For example, there may be elements of your policy which are required to maintain compliance with certain pieces of legislation.
You should explain how your policy relates to relevant regulations. This helps you to explain why your policy is as it is, as well as emphasising your overall legal compliance.
Your policy statement should outline the importance of protecting staff/volunteers and service users from harm, as well as how this is achieved. This should also include a commitment to equal access to your services, as well as the importance of your work.
Then, your policy statement will give an overview of the specific measures and procedures you have in place to minimise risk, and prevent harm being done to anyone who works with your charity.
Finally, your safeguarding policy should list and explain all relevant supporting documents. These include:
Codes of conduct,
More detailed information on the rules, policies and procedures you have in place for safeguarding different types of individuals.
How to Ensure Effective Charity Safeguarding
Having the right safeguarding policy for your charity or not for profit organisation is crucial. On the one hand, this ensures that everyone who interacts with your charity is kept safe from harm. On the other, it protects your organisational reputation, and your staff.
Almost all charities encounter risks of some description. Whether this is working with vulnerable service users, or handling personal data, an effective safeguarding policy is needed to mitigate this risk.
At S3 Solutions, we have a wide range of experience in policies and procedures in the third sector. Speak to us today to find out more about how we can provide further guidance and advice on safeguarding.