Tools for Inner Peace
CHILDREN AND VULNERABLE ADULTS SAFEGUARDING POLICY
Policy reviewed by Tools for Inner Peace Board of Trustees on 10 December 2021
1. Children and Vulnerable Adults Safeguarding Policy
Everyone who participates in Tools for Inner Peace activities is entitled to do so in an enjoyable and safe environment. The organisation has a moral and legal obligation to ensure that, when given responsibility for young people or vulnerable adults, facilitators and volunteers provide them with the highest possible standard of care.
Tools for Inner Peace is committed to devising and implementing policies so that everyone involved in its activities accepts their responsibilities to safeguard children and vulnerable adults from harm and abuse. This means following procedures to protect children vulnerable adults and report any concerns about their welfare to appropriate authorities.
The purpose of the policy is:
- to protect children and vulnerable adults who receive Tools for Inner Peace services from harm;
- to allow facilitators and volunteers to make informed and confident responses to specific protection issues related to children and vulnerable adults.
This policy applies to anyone working on behalf of Tools for Inner Peace including Trustees, facilitators and volunteers.
A child/young person is defined as a person under the age of 18 (Children’s Act 1989)
Adults aged 18 and over have the potential to be vulnerable (either temporarily or permanently) for a variety of reasons and in different situations. Adults may be vulnerable if they:
- Have a learning or physical disability; or
- Have a physical or mental illness, chronic or otherwise, including an addiction to alcohol or drugs; or
- Have a reduction in physical or mental capacity; or
- Are in the receipt of any form of healthcare; or
- Are detained in custody; or
- Are receiving community services because of age, health or disability; or
- Are living in sheltered or residential care home; or
- Are unable, for any other reason, to protect themselves against significant harm or exploitation.
It is recognised that people who meet one or more of the criteria above may not be vulnerable at all, or all of the time.
1.2 Policy Statement
Tools for Inner Peace is committed to the following:
- the welfare of the child or vulnerable adult is paramount
- all children and vulnerable adults, whatever their age, culture, ability, gender, language, racial origin, religious belief and/or sexual identity should be able to participate in yoga in a safe environment
- taking all reasonable steps to protect children and vulnerable adults from harm, discrimination and degrading treatment and to respect their rights, wishes and feelings
- all suspicions and allegations of poor practice or abuse will be taken seriously and responded to swiftly and appropriately
- all Tools for Inner Peace facilitators who work with children and vulnerable adults will be recruited with regard to their suitability for that responsibility, and will be provided with guidance and/or training in good practice and procedures to safeguard children and vulnerable adults
- working in partnership with parents and children is essential for the protection of children
1.3 Training and support
Tools for Inner Peace is committed to providing effective management for staff and volunteers through supervision, support, training and quality assurance measures so that all staff and volunteers know about and follow policies, procedures and behaviour codes confidently and competently. This includes nominating a Trustee as Safeguarding Lead.
The current Safeguarding Lead is Minna Jarvenpaa
They may delegate their duties hereunder from time to time for a stated period of time on written notice to the other Trustees.
1.4 Monitor and review the policy and procedures
The policy will be reviewed annually or as necessary. The implementation of procedures will be regularly monitored and reviewed at Trustees meetings at other times if required. Staff and volunteers will be advised to regularly report progress, challenges, difficulties, achievements, gaps and areas where changes are required to the Safeguarding Lead.
2. Promoting Good Practice
All personnel should adhere to the following principles and action:
- Always work in an open environment (e.g. avoiding private or unobserved situations and encouraging open communication with no secrets).
- Make the experience of yoga fun and enjoyable: promote fairness, confront and deal with bullying.
- Treat all young people and vulnerable adults equally and with respect and dignity.
- Maintain a safe and appropriate distance (e.g. it is not appropriate for staff or volunteers to have an intimate relationship with a child or vulnerable adult or to share a room with them).
- Avoid unnecessary physical contact. Where any form of manual/physical support is required it should be provided openly and with the consent of the child or vulnerable adult. Physical contact can be appropriate so long as it is neither intrusive nor disturbing and the person’s consent has been given.
- In the case of children, involve parents/carers wherever possible, encouraging parents to take responsibility for their own child.
- Ensure parental consent if Tools for Inner Peace facilitators are required to transport young people or vulnerable adults in their cars.
- Always give enthusiastic and constructive feedback rather than negative criticism.
3. Responding to Suspicions and Allegations of Abuse or Harm
It is not the responsibility of anyone working in Tools for Inner Peace in a paid or unpaid capacity to decide whether or not child abuse or harm to vulnerable adults has taken place. However, there is a responsibility to act on any concerns through contact with the appropriate authorities so that they can then make inquiries and take necessary action to protect the young person or vulnerable adult. This applies both to allegations/suspicions of abuse occurring within Tools for Inner Peace and to allegations/suspicions that abuse is taking place elsewhere.
This section explains how to respond to allegations/suspicions.
3.2. Receiving Evidence of Possible Abuse
We may become aware of possible abuse in various ways. We may see it happening, we may suspect it happening or it may be reported to us by someone else or directly by the person affected.
In the last of these cases, it is particularly important to respond appropriately. If a child or vulnerable adult says or indicates that he or she is being abused, you should:
- stay calm so as not to frighten the child or vulnerable adult;
- reassure the child or vulnerable adult that he or she is not to blame and that it was right to tell;
- listen to the child or vulnerable adult, showing that you are taking them seriously;
- keep questions to a minimum so that there is a clear and accurate understanding of what has been said. Only ask questions to clarify;
- inform the child or vulnerable adult that you have to inform other people about what they have told you in order to help stop the abuse continuing;
- safety of the child or vulnerable adult is paramount. If he or she needs urgent medical attention call an ambulance, inform the doctors of the concern and ensure they are made aware that this is a protection issue;
- record all information;
- report the incident to the Safeguarding Lead.
In all cases if you are not sure what to do you can gain help from a help line as listed in the Annex.
3.3. Recording Information
To ensure that information is as helpful as possible, a detailed record should always be made at the time of the disclosure/concern. In recording you should confine yourself to the facts and distinguish what is your personal knowledge and what others have told you. Do not include your own opinions.
Information should include the following:
- the name, age and date of birth of the child or vulnerable adult;
- the home address and telephone number of the child or vulnerable adult;
- whether or not the person making the report is expressing their concern or someone else’s;
- the nature of the allegation, including dates, times and any other relevant information;
- a description of any visible bruising or injury, location, size etc. Also any indirect signs, such as behavioural changes;
- details of witnesses to the incidents;
- the account of the child or vulnerable adult, if it can be given, of what has happened and how any bruising/injuries occurred;
- have the parents been contacted? If so what has been said?
- has anyone else been consulted? If so record details;
- has anyone been alleged to be the abuser? Record detail.
3.4. Reporting the Concern
All suspicions and allegations MUST be reported to the Safeguarding Lead appropriately. It is recognised that strong emotions can be aroused particularly in cases where sexual abuse is suspected or where there is misplaced loyalty to a colleague. It is important to understand these feelings but not allow them to interfere with your judgement about any action to take.
Tools for Inner Peace expects its facilitators and volunteers to discuss any concerns they may have about the welfare of a child or vulnerable adult immediately with the person in charge and subsequently to check that appropriate action has been taken. All suspicions and allegations must be shared with professional agencies that are responsible for child protection.
Social services have a legal responsibility under The Children Act 1989 to investigate all child protection referrals by talking to the child and family (where appropriate), gathering information from other people who know the child and making inquiries jointly with the police.
NB: If there is any doubt, you must report the incident: it may be just one of a series of other incidences which together cause concern
Any suspicion that a child or vulnerable adult has been abused by a facilitator or volunteer should be reported to the Tools for Inner Peace Safeguarding Lead who will take appropriate steps to ensure the safety of the person in question and any other person who may be at risk. This will include the following:
- the Safeguarding Lead will refer the matter to the relevant social services department;
- the parent/carer of the person will be contacted as soon as possible following advice from the social services department;
- the Safeguarding Lead of Tools for Inner Peace in consultation with the other trustees will decide who will deal with any media inquiries and implement any immediate disciplinary proceedings.
Allegations of abuse are sometimes made some time after the event. Where such allegation is made, you should follow the same procedures and have the matter reported to social services. This is because other children and adults may be at risk from the alleged abuser. Anyone who has a previous conviction for offences related to abuse against children is automatically excluded from working with children.
3.5 Concerns outside the immediate Environment (e.g. a parent or carer)
- Report your concerns to the Safeguarding Lead;
- If the Safeguarding Lead is not available, the person being told or discovering the abuse should contact their local social services department or the police immediately;
- Social Services and the Safeguarding Lead will decide how to inform the parents/carers;
- The Safeguarding Lead should also report the incident to the Tools for Inner Peace Trustees. The Trustees should ascertain whether or not the person/s involved in the incident play a role in the organisation and act accordingly;
- Maintain confidentiality on a need to know basis.
Every effort should be made to ensure that confidentiality is maintained for all concerned. Information should be handled and disseminated on a need to know basis only. This includes the following people:
- Tools for Inner Peace Trustees and Safeguarding Lead
- The parents of the child
- The person making the allegation
- Social Services/police
- The alleged abuser (and parents if the alleged abuser is a child)
Seek social services advice on who should approach the alleged abuser.
All information should be stored in a secure place with limited access to designated people, in line with data protection laws.
3.7 Internal Inquiries and Suspension
- The Tools for Inner Peace Safeguarding Lead will make an immediate decision about whether any individual accused of abuse should be temporarily suspended pending further police and social services inquiries
- Irrespective of the findings of the social services or police inquiries the Tools for Inner Peace trustees will assess all individual cases to decide whether a member of staff or volunteer can be reinstated and how this can be sensitively handled. This may be a difficult decision; especially where there is insufficient evidence to uphold any action by the police. In such cases the Trustees must reach a decision based upon the available information which could suggest that on the balance of probability, it is more likely than not that the allegation is true. The welfare of the child should remain of paramount importance throughout.
4. Creating and Facilitating Safe Online Spaces
Due to the COVID-19 crisis, Tools for Inner Peace yoga classes have started taking place online.
This guidance sets out procedures enabling staff and volunteers to manage and facilitate safe online spaces for vulnerable adults, which may include people with long-term mental health difficulties, on-going suicidal thoughts and feelings, or those who may be at risk of harm.
We are living in a rapidly changing online environment and may encounter unanticipated risks over time. New risks and safety breaches must be brought to the attention of the Safeguarding Lead immediately, in order for this guidance note to be updated and extended.
Any concerns about the safety of a Tools for Inner Peace staff member, volunteer or beneficiary or other safeguarding incidents must be reported directly to the Safeguarding Lead, as soon as possible and by the end of the day when the incident occurred. Reports are to be made by telephone in the first instance and then via email so that there is a written record.
4.2 Zoom procedures
Links to online activities and groups will only be sent to invitees via email or text, and will not be posted anywhere online, to avoid harassment through ‘Zoombombing’. We will use Zoom’s enhanced security measures and hold participants in a ‘waiting room’ before admitting them into the session to check their identity.
5. Recruiting and Selecting Personnel Working with Children and Vulnerable Adults
It is important that all reasonable steps are taken to prevent unsuitable people from working with children. This applies equally to paid staff and volunteers, both full and part time. To ensure unsuitable people are prevented from working with children the following steps should be taken when recruiting.
5.2 Controlling Access to Children and Vulnerable Adults
- All facilitators and volunteers should complete a self declaration form. The form will elicit information about the applicant’s past and a self disclosure about any criminal record.
- Consent should be obtained from the applicant to seek information from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).
- Evidence of identity (passport or driving licence with photo).
- A check should be made that the application form has been completed in full, including sections on criminal records and self disclosures
- Procedures for safeguarding children or vulnerable adults are read and understood by all facilitators and volunteers who sign that they have read and understood the Tools for Inner Peace child protection policy and agree to comply with it.