People turn to charities for lots of different reasons. Sometimes for advice, a sense of community, support, or, in the case of the many vital refuges or care homes that house vulnerable adults and children, for safety or security.
Charities are a lifeline to many across the country. But that lifeline should never become a cause for distress or harm.
That’s a very reasonable expectation - so there can be no excuses or barriers to keeping people safe. We want to ensure that all charities and trustees know and understand their safeguarding responsibilities in crystal clear terms.
That includes recognising that safeguarding and protecting people from harm goes beyond simply implementing policies and processes. As a fundamental responsibility for trustees, safeguarding and protecting people must go to the heart of a charity’s culture. By building up knowledge across organisations, charities can develop and strengthen organisational cultures that prioritise people’s safety.
That’s why we’ve published updated safeguarding guidance to help charities and trustees better understand their legal duties around protecting people.
Safeguarding and protecting people for charities and trustees is a guidance tool that sets out the steps charities must take to ensure they are a safe environment. It also highlights the key areas of safeguarding risk facing charities.
The updated guidance published today (25 October 2018), does not signal a change in trustee duties. The guiding principle remains the same - that trustees must safeguard children and adults at risk, and protect anyone that comes into contact with their charity from harm.
But it does form a single piece of guidance so that what trustees need to know is easily accessible in one place. It is a one stop shop that signposts to key sources of further information and support so that charities know exactly where to turn.
We’ve worked hard to make the updated guidance as easy to use and work with as possible. This has included thorough user testing and seeking out the views of people across the sector – the very people that will be using the guidance.
The result is a concise document, written in plain English and accessible to all. The step by step checklist format makes it user-friendly and easy to agree responsibility between fellow trustees or colleagues.
The guidance is also versatile, to suit the varied landscape that we regulate. Whether a small village playgroup or a large international organisation, all charities should be able to use the guidance and apply it proportionately to their activities. What trustees will need to do depends on what their charity does and who it works with.
As the guidance makes clear, protecting people and safeguarding responsibilities should be a key governance priority for all charities. Charity trustees must hear this and act, if they are to meet public expectations of being trusted environments.
So read it, share it, discuss it. And revisit it when the time is right.
The Commission’s new strategic purpose is about ensuring charities can thrive, but to do so they must be built on foundations that allow everyone to feel safe.
There’s no room for doubt when it comes to safeguarding - it’s too important.
'Safeguarding and protecting people for charities and trustees' is available on GOV.UK.