New term, new start?
Safeguarding is always an important issue, as children move up a new school year, September is a good time to review systems to help ensure the year runs as smoothly as possible.
New helpers? New helpers often start in September and these need to have DBS checks in place as the terms rotas are prepared. Although there can be unchecked helpers this is not recommended for regular activities. Large-scale activities often require extra volunteers and churches often run joint activities and share workers, so it is important that everyone knows who is DBS checked. Make sure you have enough workers with DBS checks and who are trained to look out for signs of abuse, know how to respond and who to contact. Remember that safeguarding is also about protecting leaders and helpers from unfounded allegations or suspicions. Safeguarding should form part of a briefing for everyone involved in any type of activity and it should be on the agenda for all planning meetings.
A safe environment? If activities may take place away from the usual site leaders must know where to get help, first aid, and what other people may be around. It is also important to check the new environment is safe and that any risks are identified and managed.
Risk assessment. All activities should have a risk assessment and although this sounds difficult it is probably just writing down things that you are already doing. For many activities the form will be the same but some activities to different locations may need additional considerations. Remember that you may not be insured if you do not have an adequate risk assessment on file.
Consent forms? It is worth revisiting the consent forms that may already be on file since last year to check that you have all the contact details, necessary permissions for first aid, taking photographs etc and any information about allergies. A proper consent form is very reassuring to parents and an indication that an activity is being run properly. If you want to stay in touch with the parents and carers so you can invite them to future activities, make sure the form includes a tick box for this. Remember that large scale events may not need as much information as regular events, so it may be useful to have a simpler registration form for these.
Taking photos? Pictures of fun activities are great for church websites and social media but remember to check photos against the permission forms before use. Make sure that photos are appropriate; for example, don’t take and use photos of children in swimwear. It is best to use a camera and use a dedicated memory card, rather than personal mobile phones.
All safeguarding policies should be reviewed annually so it is a good idea to check that your organisation’s policy is up to date. If your organisation is a Rural Ministries partner and you don’t have a safeguarding policy (or if it needs replacing then) then we may be able to help through our Safeguarding partners CCPAS – just get in touch with us to find out more.