URG Safeguarding Policy

1. Purpose

Ulverston Resilience Group (URG) is a voluntary organisation offering services to a wide range of individuals in the event of a community emergency in Ulverston town and/or the surrounding LA12 postcode area. It is recognised that some of those who we interact with will be children, young persons (aged under 18), and vulnerable adults.

The welfare of these individuals will always be paramount. Therefore, URG has to make sure that the people it is working with are exposed to minimal risk in all matters, and also to make sure that its members and volunteers are likewise at minimal risk of being accused or in any other danger through working with each other and/or other individuals in the community.

URG’s Safeguarding Policy applies to all volunteers or anyone working for or volunteering on behalf of the organisation.

The purpose of this policy is:

  • To protect children, young persons and vulnerable adults who receive assistance from the organisation.
  • To provide members, volunteers and anyone working on behalf of URG with the overarching principles that underpin the organisation’s approach to Safeguarding.

Many disabilities are hidden, and a vulnerable person may not wish to disclose their vulnerabilities (or abusers). Therefore, in most cases when interacting with members of the community, it should be assumed that somebody somewhere could be vulnerable.

2. The legal framework

The policy has been drawn up on the basis of law and guidance that seeks to protect children, young persons and vulnerable adults, namely:

  • The Mental Health Act (1983)
  • Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act (2006)
  • The Children Act (1989)
  • Protection of Freedoms Act (2012)
  • The Children Act (2004)
  • The Children and Families Act (2014)
  • The Data Protection Act (1998)
  • The Care Act (2014)
  • The Public Interest Disclosure Act (1998)
  • Making Safeguarding Personal Guide (2014)
  • The Sexual Offences Act (2003)
  • Working Together 2015
  • The United Convention of the Rights of the Child (1991)

3. Definitions

Young Person/Vulnerable Adult in the context of this policy. A young person is defined as anyone aged less than 18 years. A vulnerable adult is a person over the age of 18 years who:

  • is or may be in need of /eligible for community care services by reason of mental or other disability, age or illness
  • AND is unable to take care of themselves
  • OR is unable to protect themselves from significant harm or exploitation

This includes people:

  • with a mental health need
  • with a learning difficulty
  • with physical impairment
  • with sensory impairment
  • with substance or alcohol dependency
  • who receive personal care, nursing or support to live independently in their own home or a care home
  • who are older and frail
  • who are family carers providing assistance to another vulnerable adults

4. People who may be vulnerable to abuse

Abuse is a violation of an individual’s human and civil rights by any other persons(s) or group of people. Abuse may be single or repeated acts. It can be:

  • Physical abuse: for example, hitting, slapping, burning, pushing, restraining or giving the wrong medication.
  • Psychological abuse: including emotional abuse, threats of harm or abandonment, shouting, swearing, frightening, blaming, ignoring or humiliating a person, intimidation, verbal abuse.
  • Financial: including the illegal or unauthorised use of a person’s property, money, pension book or other valuables, pressure in connection with wills, property or inheritance.
  • Sexual: such as forcing a person to take part in any sexual activity without his or her informed consent – this can occur in any relationship.
  • Discriminatory: including racist or sexist remarks or comments based on a person’s disability, age or illness, and other forms of harassment, slurs or similar treatment. This also includes stopping someone from being involved in religious or cultural activity, services or support networks.
  • Institutional: the collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people at risk of abuse. This includes a failure to ensure the necessary safeguards are in place to protect adults and maintain good standards of care in accordance with individual needs, including training of staff, supervision and management, record keeping and liaising with other providers of care.
  • Domestic Abuse: incident or pattern of incidents of controlling coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse by someone that can be a partner or family member, regardless of gender or sexuality.
  • Neglect and acts of omission: including ignoring medical or physical care needs. These can be deliberate or unintentional, amounting to abuse by a carer or self-neglect by the vulnerable person: for example, where a person is deprived of food, heat, clothing, comfort or essential medication, or failing to provide access to appropriate health or social care services.

5. How might we notice abuse?

Concerns about or evidence of abuse may become apparent through:

  • A direct disclosure by the child, young person or adult.
  • A complaint or expression of concern by a volunteer, a carer, a member of the public or relative.
  • An observation of the behaviour of the person by a URG volunteer, member of the public or carer.

Safeguarding is the responsibility of everyone, either within or acting on behalf of the organisation. All members and volunteers of URG play an important part in promoting the safety and protection of the young perons and vulnerable adults with whom the organisation works. Everyone within URG needs to be alert to the potential of abuse of children, young persons and vulnerable adults, both within their families and also from other sources – including abuse by members of the URG organisation. There is an expected responsibility for all members of the organisation to respond to any suspected or actual abuse of a child, young person or vulnerable adult in accordance with this Policy and procedures.

DOING NOTHING IS NOT AN OPTION – If we know or suspect that a child, young person or vulnerable adult is being abused, we will do something about it and ensure our work is properly recorded.

6. Training of members & volunteers

Induction for URG members and volunteers will include information on all relevant policies and procedures, including the safeguarding of children, young persons and vulnerable adults. All members and volunteers will be required to read URG’s Safeguarding Policy and on-going training will be provided if necessary.

All members and volunteers providing services will have a designated supervisor who will provide appropriate support and supervision.

All volunteers will work in pairs, or in larger groups. On identifying a vulnerable child, young person or adult they will at no time be left alone with them. If a volunteer arrives alone at a location where there may be a vulnerable person, they should not enter until accompanied. Volunteers are required to stay with each other when in the presence of a vulnerable adult, young person or child.

7. Reporting procedure

Abuse of vulnerable adults and young people can take many forms including physical, emotional, sexual, financial and institutional. It is not the responsibility of anyone working or volunteering within URG to decide whether or not abuse has taken place, consequently all cases of suspected or alleged abuse must be raised in line with the procedures identified in this Policy. The need to escalate concerns is essential as there may already have been worries expressed by other members and/or agencies and failure to report concerns may put a child, young person or vulnerable adult at risk.

It is the responsibility of the person that first becomes aware of a situation where there may be a child, young person or vulnerable adult subject to, or at risk of, abuse to:

  • Deal with the immediate needs of the person
  • Inform the URG Leader immediately – or a member of the management committee, if the Leader is unavailable or is implicated in the allegation

Record the factual details of the allegation as soon as possible to include:

  • The allegation or concerns
  • Date and time of the incident/when the concern was raised
  • What the individual said regarding the abuse and how it occurred or what has been reported
  • The appearance and behaviour of the individual concerned
  • A description of any injuries observed
  • Any other factual information
  • Clarity regarding the distinction between fact, opinion or hearsay. There must be no attempt by the person to whom the allegation has been reported or has concerns/suspicions regarding potential abuse to investigate the matter themselves.

The URG Leader or a designated committee member, in consultation with Westmorland & Furness Safeguarding Hub (phone 0300 373 2724) and/or Westmorland & Furness Adult Social Care (01228 526690) will:

  • Decide without delay on the most appropriate course of action
  • Deal with any immediate needs of the individual concerned, ensuring that other service users are not put at risk
  • Clarify the facts stated by the member or volunteer but should not, in any circumstances, discuss the allegation of abuse with the alleged perpetrator or, if possible, the victim
  • Address issues of consent and confidentiality
  • Follow the procedure above on the same day as the concern/allegation has been raised wherever:
  • A crime has been, could have been, or yet could be committed
  • There is suspicion that an abuse has taken place
  • The allegation involves a member, volunteer, or anyone who works on behalf of URG
  • Other children, young people or vulnerable adults are at risk

Where a decision is made not to refer, the concern/allegation must be recorded together with the reasons for the decision.

Any allegation made against a member or volunteer should be reported to the URG Leader and the Cumbria Safeguarding Hub who will take action as per this Safeguarding Policy.

Where a disclosure of abuse is made, care should be taken to explain to the individual/s the procedure that will be followed and they should be informed that it might not be possible for URG to maintain confidentiality.

Where a member of URG makes an allegation regarding another organisation, this must be reported to the URG Leader who will take the appropriate action.

All members and volunteers (where appropriate) of URG will be familiar with good practice guidelines on the immediate action to be taken following a report of abuse (see Appendix 1).

8. Accusations made against a URG volunteer

If a member of URG is accused of abuse, they will be immediately suspended from the service provided and any committee position held. This does NOT mean that there is a presumption of guilt: it is to protect the member/volunteer from further accusations. The URG Leader will then follow the Safeguarding Policy.

All members and volunteers should be familiar with and adhere to URG’s policy on safeguarding and good practice (See Appendix 2).

9. URG Safeguarding Officer & Committee

The URG Safeguarding Officer is Alison Jeschke. She can be contacted by email at safeguarding@ulverston.com or by phone at 01229 357951. The Safeguarding Officer is responsible for the governance and management of the Safeguarding Policy.

The URG Safeguarding Officer and all elected URG Committee Members are required to pass Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Checks, which will be organised and paid for by Ulverston Resilience Group. URG will work closely with Cumbria CVS to share best practice and prepare suitable volunteer training materials.

10. Review

This policy will be reviewed at least every 2 years. It was last updated on 11th January 2023. A minor update to Cumbria safeguarding phone numbers was made on 20th June 2024.

Appendix 1

The following are guidelines on immediate action to be taken following a reporting of abuse by a child, young person, vulnerable adult or any member or volunteer:

  • React calmly so not to frighten or deter him/her
  • Re-assure him/her that it is not their fault
  • Don’t promise to keep the information to yourself
  • Explain that you need to make sure they will be safe and may have to pass on the information to somebody trusted to deal with it
  • Listen carefully to what they say and take them seriously
  • Allow them to tell you what happened in their own words
  • Clarify what you have heard to establish the basic facts
  • Avoid leading questions
  • Do not ask specific questions regarding explicit details

If possible, make brief notes during the initial disclosure, explaining why you are doing this. If this is not possible, a record of the conversation must be made as soon as possible afterwards. All notes must be dated and signed by the member or volunteer taking them, recording the information as set out within this Safeguarding Policy.

Appendix 2

Good practice guidelines for working with service users:

  • If it is necessary for a volunteer to meet a service user outside of URG approved premises, then wherever possible, this meeting should take be in a public place. Visiting service users at their home is not encouraged, however, it is recognised that in certain circumstances it may be unavoidable. In the event of a member/volunteer visiting a member or service user at home, they should ensure that another volunteer or committee member of URG accompanies them and that the URG Leader or nominated person knows where they are going and what time they are expected to complete their visit.
  • Service users should never be given access to the home address or telephone number of any volunteer or staff member of URG. Service users’ contact details should never be disclosed to anyone outside of URG without their explicit consent3