- The purpose and scope of this policy statement
The Friendship Project is a Warwickshire-wide charity that matches children and young people (who are in need, for a variety of reasons) with volunteers, for friendship and fun.
The purpose of this policy statement is:
- to protect children and young people who receive the Friendship Project’s services from harm.
- to provide staff and volunteers, as well as children and young people and their families, with the overarching principles that guide our approach to child protection.
This policy applies to anyone working on behalf of The Friendship Project including the board of trustees, paid staff and volunteers.
- Legal framework
This policy has been drawn up on the basis of legislation, policy and guidance that seeks to protect children in England including:
- The Children Act 1989, which provides the legislative framework for child protection in England and established the paramount nature of the child’s welfare and the expectations and requirements around duties of care to children.
- The Children Act 2004, which encourages partnerships between agencies and creates more accountability, by placing a duty on local authorities to appoint children’s services members who are ultimately accountable for the delivery of services and by placing a duty on local authorities and their partners to co-operate in safeguarding and promoting the wellbeing of children and young people.
- Working Together to Safeguard Children (Department of Education, 2018) – statutory guidance for anyone working with children, which sets out how organisations and individuals should work together.
- What to do if you’re worried a child is being abused: advice for practitioners (Department of Education, 2015) which describes the indicators of abuse and neglect and the actions to take if you think a child is being abused or neglected.
- Supporting documents
This policy statement should be read alongside our organisational policies, procedures, guidance and other related documents as set out in the Project Guidelines.
- We believe that:
- Children and young people should never experience abuse of any kind.
- We have a responsibility to promote the welfare of all children and young people, to keep them safe and to practise in a way that protects them.
- We recognise that:
- the welfare of children is paramount in all the work we do and in all the decisions we take all children, regardless of age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex, or sexual orientation have an equal right to protection from all types of harm or abuse.
- some children are additionally vulnerable because of the impact of previous experiences, their level of dependency, communication needs or other issues.
- working in partnership with children, young people, their parents, carers and other agencies is essential in promoting young people’s welfare
- We will seek to keep children and young people safe by:
- valuing, listening to and respecting them.
- appointing a lead trustee/board member for safeguarding.
- adopting child protection and safeguarding best practice through our policies, procedures and code of conduct for staff and volunteers.
- developing and implementing effective safeguarding procedures.
- 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 our policies, procedures and behaviour codes confidently and competently.
- recruiting and selecting staff and volunteers safely, ensuring all necessary checks are made.
- recording, storing and using information professionally and securely, in line with data protection legislation and guidance.
- sharing information about safeguarding and good practice with children and their families.
- making sure that children, young people and their families know where to go for help if they have a concern.
- using our safeguarding and child protection procedures to share concerns and relevant information with agencies who need to know, and involving children, young people, parents, families and carers appropriately.
- using our procedures to manage any allegations against staff and volunteers appropriately.
- ensuring that we have effective complaints and whistleblowing measures in place.
- ensuring that we provide a safe physical environment for our children, young people, staff and volunteers, by applying health and safety measures in accordance with the law and regulatory guidance.
- building a safeguarding culture where staff and volunteers, children, young people and their families, treat each other with respect and are comfortable about sharing concerns.
- Contact details
Trustee/Senior lead for safeguarding and child protection
Name: Esther Jones, Phone/email: 07977409805, firstname.lastname@example.org
Name: Cheryll Rawbone, Phone/email: 07769 727418, email@example.com
We are committed to reviewing our policy and good practice annually.
This policy was last reviewed on: 29 August 2023
Date: 29 August 2023
Procedure for what do if you have a concern about a Younger Friend
The child’s welfare is paramount and this means that the child’s safety and protection must be the most important consideration and take priority over everything else. These procedures outline what action should be taken if you have concerns about a child’s safeguarding including child protection.
The procedures apply to anyone working on behalf of The Friendship Project including the board of trustees, paid staff and volunteers.
Throughout this procedure there are a range of terms used interchangeably to describe concerns about protection and welfare of a child. For clarity:
- Safeguarding children is the action we take to promote the welfare of children and protect them from harm.
- Child protection is part of the safeguarding continuum. It focuses on the activity that is undertaken to protect individual children identified as suffering or likely to suffer significant harm.
- The 4 Rs
There are key principles known as the 4 ‘Rs’ for referring concerns:
- Recognise concerns that a child is being harmed or might be at risk of harm.
- Respond appropriately to a child who is telling you what is happening to him or her.
- Refer the concerns in line with the guidance set out below.
- Record the concerns appropriately and any subsequent action taken; do not delay in passing on concerns.
- Recognition of abuse
Child abuse is any action by another person/adult/child that causes significant harm to a child. It can be physical, sexual or emotional but just as often be lack of love, care and attention. Abused children often experience more than one type of abuse as well as other difficulties in their lives. It often happens over a period of time rather than a one-off event. It can happen online too. Child abuse falls into 4 main categories: –
- Physical Abuse – Physical abuse is deliberately hurting a child causing injuries such as bruises, broken bokes, burns or cuts.
- Emotional Abuse – Emotional abuse is the ongoing emotional maltreatment of a child. It is sometimes called psychological abuse and can seriously damage a child’s emotional health and development. Emotional abuse can involve deliberately trying to scare or humiliate a child or isolating or ignoring them.
- Sexual Abuse – A child is sexually abused when they are forced or persuaded to take part in sexual activities. This doesn’t have to be physical contact and it can happen online.
- Neglect – Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs. It may involve a parent or carer failing to provide adequate food, shelter and clothing, failing to protect a child from physical or mental harm or danger, or the failure to ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment. It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs.
Types of abuse below may fall into the above categories or standalone but are current issues for children, young people and their families:
- Child Sexual Exploitation – Child sexual exploitation is a type of sexual abuse in which children are sexually exploited for money, power or status.
- Female genital mutilation (FGM) – Female genital mutilation (FGM) is the partial or total removal or external female genitalia for non-medical reasons.
- Domestic – Witnessing domestic abuse is child abuse and teenagers can suffer domestic abuse in their relationships.
- Online Abuse – Online abuse is any type of abuse that happens on the web, whether through social networks, playing online games or using mobile phones.
- Bullying and cyberbullying – Bullying can happen anywhere – at school, at home or online. It’s usually repeated over a long period of time and can hurt a child both physically and emotionally.
- Child Trafficking – Child trafficking is a type of abuse where children are recruited, moved or transported and then exploited, forced to work or sold.
- Grooming – Children and young people can be groomed online or in the real world, by and stranger or someone they know – a family member, friend or professional.
- County Lines – Drug gangs using children to transport drugs out of the immediate area, by train or public transport.
- Harmful Sexual Behaviour – Children and young people who develop harmful sexual behaviour harm themselves and others. Harmful sexual behaviour includes using sexually explicit words or phrases, inappropriate touching, using sexual violence or threats, full penetrative sex with other children or adults. Sexual behaviour is also considered harmful if one of the children is much older – particularly if there is more than two years difference in age or if one of the children is prepubescent and the other isn’t. However, a younger child can abuse an older child, particularly if they have power over them – for example if the older child is disabled.
2.1 Background factors influencing the Vulnerability of Children
- Social exclusion, for example poverty, racism, unsuitable housing, food or education.
- Domestic violence.
- Mental ill health in a parent/carer.
- Drug and alcohol misuse.
- Disabled children may be unable to communicate their problems.
- If you have some concerns about a Younger Friend
As a volunteer for the Friendship Project for Children you are in a good position to notice changes in social behaviour or worrying marks or bruises, and to hear children talking about things which may give cause for alarm. Recognising and coping with child abuse is a very stressful experience, but your first responsibility is to the child. It is not safe to assume that someone else will take action.
A concern about a child’s safety and welfare might arise as a result of:
- A child saying that s/he is being abused or telling you about an experience or event that has happened to them that you think would be harmful.
- You notice signs or indicators of abuse or neglect.
- The child’s behaviour gives cause for concern.
- You directly witness a child being harmed by an adult or another child.
- Somebody tells you, either face to face or by any other means of communication, that a child is being harmed or is at risk of harm, for example a service user, another child, a supporter/donor or a member of the public.
- The behaviour of an adult who has contact with the child gives you cause for concern.
3.1 What to do if you are worried – Older Friends
- If you are worried about a Younger Friend, you must inform your Area Coordinator (A/C) – we would encourage you to talk to your A/C about any worry, big or small. We believe it’s better to have the conversation than not.
- The Area Coordinator will discuss the concerns with you and make a decision as to whether to contact the Children and Families Front Door – either to seek further advice or to refer the concern on for an assessment.
- If your concern is urgent and you are unable to contact anyone within the Project, you must ring the Children and Families Front Door and refer your concern to them. Please ensure you contact your Area Coordinator to inform them of this at the earliest possible opportunity
- You will receive the full support of the Project and will be involved with, and kept abreast of, developments as far as possible.
3.2 Responding to concerns expressed by a child
If you’re in a situation where a child discloses abuse to you, there are a number of steps you can take:
- Listen carefully to the child. Avoid expressing your own views on the matter. A reaction of shock or disbelief could cause the child to ‘shut down’, retract or stop talking.
- Let them know they’ve done the right thing. Reassurance can make a big impact to the child who may have been keeping the abuse secret.
- Tell them it’s not their fault. Abuse is never the child’s fault, and they need to know this.
- Say you will take them seriously. A child could keep abuse secret in fear they won’t be believed. They’ve told you because they want help and trust you’ll be the person who will listen to and support them.
- Don’t talk to the alleged abuser. Confronting the alleged abuser about what the child’s told you could make the situation a lot worse for the child.
- Explain what you’ll do next. If age appropriate, explain to the child you’ll need to report the abuse to someone who will be able to help.
- Don’t delay reporting the abuse. The sooner the abuse is reported after the child discloses the better. Report the conversation to your area co-ordinator as soon as possible so details are fresh in your mind and action can be taken quickly.
At an appropriate point in the conversation and depending on the age of the child, let the child know that s/he can also contact Childline for support and provide the Childline telephone number – 0800 1111.
3.3 What to do if you have concerns that a Younger Friend’s life is threatened or is at risk of immediate harm
If it appears that a child is in need of urgent medical attention or in need of police protection due to imminent harm, then:
- Contact the emergency services on 999.
- Contact your Area Coordinator and inform them of what has happened.
3.4 Write it down
In the event you suspect abuse or abuse is alleged, try to record as soon as possible the information you have.
However, it is very possible you will not have all the information and you should not question the child, but some information or explanation may have been given.
- Names, addresses, phone numbers etc.
- When you were aware of the incident and where you were.
- What was said or what you saw.
- When the abuse might have occurred and where it might have happened.
- Who might have been involved.
- Was there any actual evidence – bruising, burns, soreness?
Children’s Services have teams who are experienced in dealing with allegations of child abuse. It is essential they handle the matter and you do not take any action that could prejudice or interfere with their investigation. Your responsibility is to report.
3.5 Responding an Older Friend’s Concern – Area Coordinators
Where a concern is received from an Older Friend the A/C must listen carefully and make a written record of the details shared. Next Steps will depend on the nature of the concerns being shared:
Consult the Spectrum of Support document to aid decision making:
The Younger Friend is at risk of or being abused:
- a referral should be made to the Children and Families Front Door on 01926 414144 (option 3).
- the Younger Friend’s parents/carers should be informed, unless it is deemed by doing so you might be placing the younger friend at further risk.
It sounds serious but unclear if the younger friend is at risk of or being abused:
- Consult the Spectrum of support document and either
- contact the Children and Families Front Door on 01926 414144 (option 3) to seek advice and guidance.
- Complete the Multi-Agency Contact Form (MAC)and send to TriageHub@Warwickshire.gov.uk
- If you plan to share details about the family (name. address etc), the parents/carers should be informed, otherwise, advice and guidance can be obtained anonymously.
The Younger Friend doesn’t sound like they are at risk of or being abused, but there are still some problems
- contact the referrer/lead professional/school (as appropriate) to share the concerns, see if they can be addressed as part of any support package already in place.
The concerns shared do no warrant further action
- Ensure a record of the concern has been made.
At any stage, the A/C should contact another A/C, the Operations Lead or the Safeguarding Lead Trustee for a second opinion on the best course of action.
A/Cs must ensure records are kept of the concern and action taken together with any communication between professionals.
3.6 Allegations against Older Friends
Allegations or concerns about an Older Friend should be discussed with the Area Co-ordinator and may be shared by:
- The parent/carer.
- A professional involved with the family.
- From the child, via their named ‘safe person’.
- The Older Friend’s group supporter.
Concerns may be due to an Older Friend may having:
- Behaved in a way that has harmed, or may have harmed, a child;
- Possibly committed a criminal offence against, or related to, a child; or
- Behaved towards a child or children in a way that indicates that they may pose a risk of harm to children.
- Behaved in a way that indicates they may not be suitable to work with children.
Once the initial concern/allegation has been received the Safeguarding Lead Trustee must be informed. Where the Safeguarding Lead Trustee is not available, the Chairman should be contacted.
- The Safeguarding Lead Trustee will report it to the Warwickshire LADO (Local Authority Designated Officer) via the Positions of Trust Multi-Agency Referral Form Allegations against people who work with children/young people (safeguardingwarwickshire.co.uk) which should be emailed directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Tarvinder Kalsi, the Support officer to the LADO should also be contacted on 01926 745 376.
- The allegation must not be discussed with the Older Friend although this course of action should be explained to them. A statement will be taken from the Older Friend in response to any allegations made by the Younger Friend against the Older Friend too.
- Action will be in accordance with the current requirements of the Disclosure and Barring Service and referrals may need to be made to this service and will be done in conjunction with the Area Coordinator and Safeguarding Trustee and Trustee Board.
- A Safeguarding Committee compromising of; Chair of Trustees, Safeguarding Trustee Officer and Operations Trustee will oversee all aspects of the management of the allegation, in line with guidance from the LADO and the and the West Midlands Child Protection procedure on ‘Allegations against Staff or Volunteers’.