VALEFEST SAFEGUARDING (CHILD PROTECTION) POLICY
Reviewed 06.2009.


ValeFest recognises that every child has a right to protection from any kind of abuse be it physical, emotional or sexual. It is the responsibility of all volunteers working in this group to be aware of the correct procedures for dealing with any suggested incidences of abuse. Child Protection is not an isolated issue and we will work in partnership with other organisations to update procedures and adopt current legislation. This policy is linked to the Local Children’s Safeguarding Board procedures.

All volunteers of ValeFest are aware that it is not their responsibility to investigate matters of abuse but to refer suspicions or allegations of abuse to the designated person whose responsibility it then is to refer on to the Area Social Work Office or to the Police.

The formal definition of child abuse is:
‘Children may be in need of protection where their basic needs are not being met in a manner appropriate to their age and stage of development, and they will be at risk thought avoidable acts of commission or omission on the part of their parent(s), sibling(s) or other relative(s), or carer(s)’.  The categories commonly used to describe the areas of abuse are:

            Physical injury
            Sexual abuse
            Non-organic failure to thrive
            Emotional abuse
            Physical neglect

Dealing with an incident:
Upon receipt of any information from a child, or suspicions, it is necessary to:

  • Listen to the child and take what they are saying seriously.
  • Inform them that if they continue to tell you information that you cannot keep secret you will have to pass this on to others who can help.
  • Reassure them that they are doing the right thing by telling you.
  • Remain calm and neutral, no matter what they are telling you.
  • Clarify anything you are unsure of but do not interrogate.
  • Allow them the time they need to speak – it may be very difficult for them to tell you some things and you must let them say it in their own words – remember, they must trust you very much at this moment.
  • Inform the child you will write down accurately everything that has been said or seen and what action you took. Check with the child this is an accurate account.
  • Treat everything said as confidential between you, the child and the designated person and tell the child this.
  • Pass on all information to the designated person and allow them to deal with it.

Dealing with urgent cases:
If the situation is clearly an urgent case, if the child is too frightened to go home or you have serious doubts about the child's safety, contact Social Work Services or the Police immediately.

Recruitment and selection of staff and volunteers:
Those who subject children to abuse look just like any other adult and may seek employment either paid or unpaid in roles which bring them into contact with young people. It is the responsibility of the ValeFest Committee to ensure that all possible steps are taken to check the suitability of those we employ. This will be done in the following way:

  • All volunteers with regular access to children will be CRB checked or List 99 checked by the police.
  • Previous addresses will be requested on application forms.
  • The names of two referees will be requested so that written references can be provided. We may also interview referees personally.
  • All prospective volunteers will be interviewed.
  • All relevant previous experience of volunteers will be noted.
  • All volunteers will undergo a 6-month probationary period.

Training of staff and volunteers:
All volunteers will be aware of the contents of this policy and guidance and will attend appropriate Child Protection training where possible. They will be made familiar with reporting procedures and the identity of the designated person. All volunteers will be consulted on the appropriateness of this document and stated procedures on an annual basis.

The role of the designated person:
The designated person is responsible for ensuring this policy is up to date, that it is clearly displayed (if possible) and that volunteers are aware of its content, have read and understood it.
The designated person will keep up to date with current guidelines, available from the Child Protection Officer at County Hall, and be aware who the designated Social Worker is for their area, having to hand the telephone numbers of that Social Worker and the Police. 
These professionals will always be contacted for advice and guidance and all referrals will be discussed by the statutory agencies prior to any action being taken. The designated person will:

  • Hold a register of every child involved with the club and have a contact name close to hand in case of emergencies.
  • Remember that some issues are confidential.
  • Respect a child's right to personal privacy.
  • Provide time for children to talk to you.
  • Encourage children to respect and care for others.
  • Take action to stop any inappropriate verbal or physical behaviour.
  • Remember to refer ­not investigate any suspicions or allegations of abuse.
  • Only discuss these concerns with the necessary and appropriate staff or volunteers.
  • If possible, designate a male and female adult who will be responsible for dealing with concerns around Child Protection and ensure that they are known to everyone using the group and to parents or carers.
  • Activities should, where possible, involve more than more than one adult being present or at least within sight and hearing of others.
  • Remember, someone might misinterpret actions even if they are well-intentioned.

The designated person may consider that complaints of a lesser nature, although still serious, such as bullying, cheating etc. may be handled internally without outside involvement. It must be emphasized however, that each case will be thoroughly investigated and remedied to the satisfaction of the young person/reporting person concerned.

Complaint of abuse against a member of staff:
Should this type of complaint be made, there may be three types of investigation:

  • A criminal investigation
  • A child protection investigation
  • A disciplinary or misconduct investigation

Issues of misconduct will be dealt with by a committee of Child Protection Officers. The Chair of ValeFest will that ensure appropriate action is taken and that ValeFest at all times recognises the importance of maintaining confidentiality where this is required in a legal context.

 

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