Approved as a current charity policy by the committee on 08/11/2022
Approved as a current charity policy by the board of trustees on 11/06/2023
Our Child Protection and Safeguarding Policy
This policy applies to all our volunteers, including holiday leaders, committee members and trustees, or anyone involved in the running of ExVac.
The purpose of this policy:
- To protect children and young people participating in the ExVac holidays.
- To provide all volunteers with the overarching principles that guide our approach to child protection.
ExVac believes that a child or young person should never experience any kind of abuse. We all have a responsibility to promote the welfare of children and young people and to keep them safe. We are committed to practice in a way that protects them.
As an organisation dedicated to improving the lives of disadvantaged children, child protection is central to ExVac, and given that all of the children we work with can be considered vulnerable it is even more essential. Our close ties with Oxfordshire Social Services facilitate this ethos. This policy will outline the measures in place to aid child protection within ExVac.
The policy has been drawn up on the basis of law and guidance that seeks to protect children:
- Children Act 1989
- United Convention of the Rights of the Child 1991
- Data Protection Act 1998
- Human Rights Act 1998
- Sexual Offences Act 2003
- Children Act 2004
- Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006
- Children and Families Act 2014
- Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018
We recognise that:
- The welfare of children is essential, as highlighted in the Children Act 1989
- All children, regardless of gender, age, disability, racial heritage, religious belief, sexual orientation or identity have a right to equal protection from all types of abuse
- Some of the children ExVac works with are especially vulnerable due to the impact of previous experiences, their level of dependency, communication needs or other issues
- We need to work in partnership with children, young people, their parents, carers, social workers and other agencies to promote young people’s welfare
We will seek to keep children safe at a range of levels:
1. Our volunteers
All ExVac volunteers undergo a vigorous selection process including a written application and interview conducted by the Vice Presidents, to ensure suitable leaders are selected for the trip. All leaders will have an enhanced DBS check as a compulsory measure. For international applicants or individuals that have ever lived/worked abroad, the Vice President will use DirectGov guidelines to seek a background check from the applicant’s home country. If this cannot be achieved for a volunteer, they will be asked for at least 2 references and closely supervised on the holiday, in addition to having a DBS check. Also, a member of the senior committee will see physical and photographic evidence of each volunteer’s identity, for example a passport or driver’s license with a utility bill or P45/60 (issued within the last 3 months). Disqualification declarations will also be completed for each leader, as well as requiring 2 references per leader.
Our leaders will receive training in identifying abuse, safeguarding children, and difficult behaviours. This training will take place as an in person workshop ran by the Oxford Hub. All leaders must also complete an online Level 2 Safeguarding Qualification prior to attending a holiday.
As outlined in the holiday policy, leaders will never be alone with a child and will adhere to an agreed code of conduct declaration, which outlines appropriate behaviour of a volunteer on the holiday. This is also highlighted in Section 3.2 of our Holiday Policy relating to leader behaviour. During the holiday all leaders will value, listen to and respect the children. Further details on safeguarding policies used during the holiday, including dealing with child disclosures and complaints against leaders can be found in Section 2 of our Holiday Policy.
We also appoint a Designated Safeguarding Officer (DSO), the Chairperson, who oversees all safeguarding issues, and works closely with the Vice Presidents in ensuring child safety on the trip. Complaints about the DSO or Vice President will be dealt with by the President.
2. Recognising abuse
Abuse involves maltreatment of a child, and this may involve direct infliction of harm, or a failure to act to prevent harm, and this can occur in a variety of settings. We recognise that there are four main types of child abuse as defined in the UK Government guidance ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018’ as follows:
1. Physical abuse
2. Emotional abuse
3. Sexual abuse
We are aware that abuse can take many forms:
- Including hitting, slapping, throwing, pushing, restraint, burning, suffocating, inappropriate physical sanctions
Emotional or Psychological abuse
- Persistent emotional maltreatment, including threats of harm or abandonment, deprivation of contact, blaming, controlling, intimidation, harassment, humiliation, verbal abuse, isolation or unreasonable and unjustified withdrawal of services or supportive networks
- Involves forcing or enticing a child or young person in sexual activities, including rape, sexual assault, sexual acts, sexual exploitation, non-contact activities
- Including ignoring physical or medical care needs, failure to provide access to appropriate health, care, support or education services, withholding of the necessities of life such as medication, adequate nutrition, hygiene needs, shelter and heating. Failure to protect child from physical and emotional harm or danger
Leaders will be encouraged and expected to report any of the following signs to the Vice President on their week:
- Physical signs of physical abuse - eg. unexplained marks or bruises.
- Behavioural signs of physical abuse - eg. flinching, withdrawn behaviour, refusal to change clothes.
- Signs of emotional abuse - eg. neurotic behaviour, fear of making mistakes.
- Signs of sexual abuse - eg. physical injury, excessive sexual knowledge, sexualised behaviour or comments.
- Signs of neglect - eg. constant hunger, poor hygiene, low weight, inappropriate clothing, comments.
Using our safeguarding procedures, we will ensure all concerns and relevant information will be shared with relevant agencies who need to know, and involving children, young people, parents, families and carers appropriately.
3. Reporting abuse
The Vice President on each week is responsible for recording any signs of abuse noted by other leaders or themselves, and reporting these to the appropriate social worker/school contact following the holidays. Leaders will be instructed to record any disclosures made by children directly for inclusion in their report. If a serious disclosure is made suggesting abuse or neglect, the Vice President will phone the child’s social worker. If the child has not been referred by a social worker the Vice President will contact Oxfordshire Social Services. The Vice President will take advice on how to proceed. Further details as to how safeguarding disclosures should be made during the holiday can be found in Section 2 of our Holiday Policy.
It is essential to ExVac’s aims to ensure that no bullying occurs on the holidays. At the start of the holiday children will be informed of this fact. We recognise that by bringing together a group of vulnerable children from disadvantaged backgrounds the risk of bullying is relatively high, but given the supportive atmosphere we aim to create and the high leader:child ratio we maintain we can counteract this. Bullying behaviours will be discouraged and punished using the warnings/time out system in addition to discussion of the behaviour between the child and a leader. Any concerns surrounding bullying will be mentioned in the child’s holiday report. More information on child behavioural discipline can be found in Section 3.1 of our Holiday Policy.
Parents/carers will fill out a Parental Consent Form where they have the option to allow or disallow photos from the holidays containing their child to not be used in promotional materials for ExVac. Photos will not be taken when children are wearing pyjamas or swimwear. Photos will not be used for promotional materials if the child is identifiable in the picture by their name or other personal details (eg. wearing a school uniform sweater).
6. Managing identifying information
We ensure we provide a safe physical environment for our children, young people and volunteers, by carrying out thorough risk assessments and ensuring we have sufficient information about individuals’ health and any medical conditions. We also ensure that no child who has suffered from sickness/diarrhoea in the 48hours prior to the trip can attend. Other safety information can be found in Sections 5 and 6 of our Holiday Policy.
Our child protection and safeguarding policy aims to promote an environment where all children, young people, families and volunteers treat each other with respect and are comfortable with sharing concerns.