The reality of safeguarding is that it is not a matter of whether a worker will be confronted by an issue, but when. Therefore, it is essential to ensure we have the necessary skills and knowledge and feel confident about how to effectively respond when issues arise.
Your safeguarding policy is only as effective as those who are implementing it. It is vital that safeguarding is properly embedded in your organisation and that your team is not only aware of what’s involved but can confidently apply it.
The importance of training and developing awareness should be stated as an objective in your safeguarding policy. Clear communication is also needed around the expectations you place on your workers regarding what training should be attended, by whom and at how frequently.
The best place to start for all workers is general safeguarding awareness training. This helps workers learn about the legal definitions of abuse, how to identify the signs and indicators, and who to pass information on to. This is often referred to as Level 1 training. Children’s workers, leaders and those with specific safeguarding responsibilities (for example the safeguarding co-ordinator) should undertake what may be referred to as Level 2 and Level 3 training. Training needs to take place often enough that your workers feel confident and knowledgeable in relevant legislation and practice (for safeguarding, this will be every three years).
In order to implement your training policy, organisations need to ensure that relevant, role-specific training is available for those who work with children. This might include safeguarding training, but also includes other areas such as health and safety, first aid and food hygiene.
Organisations should also ensure that new workers are given induction training and supervision during the first six months. During this time, the organisation should arrange support for the worker, including regular meetings with a supervisor, to discuss how the job is going and to make any adjustments.
Training that is tailored to your setting is often the most effective way to help your workers engage with the realities they may face in their role.
Records of attendance
One of the biggest challenges in relation to training is that it can be difficult to get volunteers who only serve for an hour a month in a children’s or youth group to come along. Therefore, you need to ensure that workers understand the importance your organisation places on attending training and that they may not be able to continue in their role without it.
It’s also important to plan ahead to make sure the dates work for as many volunteers as possible, that appropriate venues can be booked and the right amount of resources are provided. This may mean running a number of courses throughout the year with a variation in days, times and venues to make it easy for people to attend. Allocating specific administrative support to assist the safeguarding co-ordinator with this can help.
It is important to keep a record of who has attended and who still needs to attend. Willingness to complete training will show how seriously a worker takes safeguarding. It also shows workers they are valued in their volunteer role.
Developing a culture of awareness
Training is central to developing a culture of awareness within your organisation. However, awareness is not just for workers, but for leaders and trustees as well. Leading by example is one of the most powerful ways of setting and maintaining safer cultures. Regardless of the size or variety of work undertaken, it is essential that all leaders are appropriately trained and that this is a clear expectation within your recruitment processes.
It is also important that the church or organisation leadership understands its responsibility towards safeguarding and commits to following and upholding agreed policy and practice. It is also important that children and young people are informed about how to ask for help if they are worried about anything, and that they know who to go to if they are anxious or frightened. Children especially need to know the difference between secrets that can be kept and those that cannot. These are often referred to as ‘good and bad secrets’. They also need to understand the difference between ‘good and bad touch’.
There should be clear lines of accountability so that everyone in the organisation knows how to discuss and refer matters of concern.
How it fits together
Everyone in the organisation needs to understand the importance of keeping everyone safe: the leaders, the workers and those using the services. Organisations can only do this effectively if they thave workers with the right skills and expertise. Providing training and development opportunities for all is essential.
Call CCPAS on 03030 003 1111 for independent, professional and compassionate support around safeguarding in your organisation: ccpas.co.uk.
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