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This Summary is taken from “In Safe Hands”, the Guildford Diocesan Guide to Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults
This Summary is intended to give Leaders and Helpers a basic practical outline for them to follow. All those working for the Church or on Church Premises must as a minimum adhere to these guidelines. Where anything is unclear then the full document above should be consulted. This is available from the Church Office
Running Activities & Events Children and Young People The following procedures apply whenever children and young people under the age of 18 take part in church organised events and activities. These include:
One‐off events or regular meetings specifically for children and young people in the parish, i.e. Sunday School, Youth Group, Mother and Toddler, etc.
Day trips or outings which are non‐residential
Any mixed aged activities or events including choir practice, bell‐ringing, music groups, etc.
One person must be designated Group Leader for every activity or event.
Young people under 18 years are welcome and encouraged to assist with events and activities, however, they must not be left in charge of a group of children of any age, and should always be supervised by an adult leader, who is responsible for ensuring that safeguarding procedures are followed.
For Group Leaders aged 18—21 years we recommend that there is at least a four year age gap between them and the children of which they are in charge.
Parents and carers can assist with occasional activities such as holiday workshops, but they must always be supervised, and be responsible to an appointed leader. If they become part of a regular rota, they must be properly appointed through the normal recruitment process (See Section 2A Recruitment and Selection).
Supervision It is important to ensure that, in planning and running activities and events for children and young people, consideration is given to providing an appropriate staffing/supervision ratio of adults to participants. This will minimise any risks to children, enhance the benefits they draw from the activity or event, reassure carers, and provide some protection to those responsible for providing the activity, should concerns or incidents arise. In the planning of activities, key factors to consider when implementing appropriate supervision levels include:
Supervision Ratios The minimum required staffing levels for children’s groups are given below. At all times there must always be a minimum of two adults present, and one of these must be the designated Group Leader. It is also recommended that a gender balance is maintained where possible. It should be noted that any young helper under the age of 18 should not be included in these supervision ratios (See 2A Recruitment and Selection for more information on Helpers Aged Under 18 years). A risk assessment may well indicate the need for an enhanced level of supervision and staffing for a particular activity, however the following guidelines are considered a minimum requirement for any activity:
Administration For all church activities and events, the person with parental responsibility for each child or young person under 18 will be required to complete and sign the following documentation before their child(ren) take part:
Before every outing, day trip or residential events, parents/carers must give their further written consent, and under no circumstances should a child be included in the pursuit without first obtaining written permission from their parent/carer. The Parent Consent and Medical Information Form can be found at Section 4. All of these forms should be stored in a confidential place, but always be available for the Group leader(s) of the activity to refer to if necessary. Group Leaders should also keep an attendance register of every child and adult attending each activity, event, or young. The Parish Safeguarding Representative should have an up‐to‐date list of all paid and voluntary workers in the church who have regular, direct contact with children and ensure that the full recruitment procedures have been followed for each of them. Ofsted Registration Churches who provide child care on their premises are classed as ‘childcare providers on non‐domestic premises’ and may be required to register to care for children with Ofsted. However, there are a series of exemptions which may cover the activities of church‐run holiday and after‐school clubs for children. Registration is the responsibility of the organisation providing the child care. This may be the church or an individual or organisation who is a tenant of the church. The process can take up to six months after submission of the application, and will involve checks and reference requests, and a visit to the premises. There is also a cost for registration. For further information you should visit www.ofsted.gov.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org. A Fact Sheet on Childcare, out-of-school clubs and Registration is provided at the end of this section. Running Activities and Events The Group Leader should have overall responsibility for the planning, supervision and conduct of the event or activity, and should ensure that:
All adult helpers have been adequately vetted, and recruited in accordance with the Recruitment procedures in Section 2A
The activity, event and transport arrangements are covered by insurance. This should include public liability.
The appropriate parental approval and consent has been obtained and all relevant documentation has been completed
Parents and carers have been clearly informed of the arrangements of the activity/event in order
The appropriate adult/child ratios are in place, so that children are adequately supervised at all times
There is a phone available for emergencies; this could be a mobile phone
All adults are aware of the health and safety issues relating to the activity/event, including procedures for first aid and fire.
Mixed Age Groups One of the positive things that the church can offer is a place where young and old, children and adults can be together, including worship and learning about the faith together. Children have the opportunity to get to know adults in a shared activity, i.e. singing, making music, serving, bell ringing, study groups, etc. When these activities include children without their parents or carers being present, it is the responsibility of the PCC to make sure that these children and young people are cared for, within health, safety and safeguarding guidelines. Experience has shown that mixed age groups are vulnerable to infiltration by people seeking to harm children. The opportunity for regular informal contact can enable an offender or potential offender to gain the trust of a child or young person enabling them to move on to offend. The following good practice should be followed to ensure that children and young people are suitably protected when involved in a mixed age group activity.
Mixed age activities must have designated leaders who have been appointed in accordance with the recruitment procedures in Section 2A
Organists and Choir Leaders should always be appointed as children’s leaders if there are or likely to be children for whom they are responsible
There must always be a minimum of two designated children’s leaders/ chaperones present when children or young people are being taught, or during rehearsals
Parents must sign a consent form which sets out the arrangements for the activity.
Late Collection of Children Parents/carers should be made aware that it is not the church’s responsibility to transport children home on behalf of parents who have been delayed. It is recommended that parents are provided with a staff/volunteer contact number in order that they can phone if there is a likelihood of a late collection. In cases of late collection, the Group Leader should:
Attempt to contact the child’s parent/carer on the contact number(s) provided in the Registration/Consent Form
Use the emergency contact name/number if necessary
Wait with the child/young person, with other staff/volunteers or parents present if at all possible
NOT take the child home or to any other location without the permission of the parent or carer
NOT send the child home with another person without the permission of the parent or carer.
There may be occasions where the child or young person requires transport in an emergency or where not giving a lift may place a child at risk. Such circumstances must always be recorded and reported to the Parish Safeguarding Representative and parent/carer. If the child appears to have been abandoned, statutory services must be contacted. Unaccompanied Children
Children may begin attending church services or church activities without their parents’ or carers’ knowledge. In this event, the following is recommended:
Welcome the children and try and establish whether their parents are aware of where they are Depending on the age and competence of the child, ring the parents, or ask the young person to ring, to gain their consent to allow the child to remain
Complete a Registration Form as far as possible
Make sure an adult recruited for work with children takes care of the child – this is particularly important during public worship where unknown adults may attend and attempt to befriend the child
Give the child written information about the church service or activity to take home with a Registration Form
If the child comes regularly, endeavour to establish contact with the parents or carers
Never take the child on outings or transport them without their parents/carers permission.
Health & Safety Risk Assessment A risk assessment is an important step in protecting staff, volunteers, children and vulnerable adults from harm, as well as complying with the law. It will help to focus on the risks that potentially could cause real harm. In many instances, straight forward measures can readily control risks, e.g. ensuring spillages are cleaned up promptly so others do not slip, or obstructions are moved so people do not trip. For most situations, that means simple, cheap and effective measures to ensure everyone is protected. By carefully examining what could cause harm to people, consideration can then be given as to whether there are enough precautions in place, or where more could be done to prevent harm. There are five steps to follow in order to assess risks:
Identify the hazards (i.e. something that may cause harm, such as electricity, an open drawer, trailing leads, etc).
Decide who might be harmed and how (i.e. children, vulnerable adults, those with disabilities, including people in wheelchairs, partially sighted or blind, hearing impaired, mentally ill, etc., visitors, parents/carers, members of the public).
Evaluate the risks and decide what to do about them (i.e. can you get rid of the hazard completely, or if not how you can control it so that harm is unlikely).
Record your findings and implement them (write down the results of your risk assessment and share them with other workers to involve them in the process).
Review and update if necessary (this should be done before any new or one‐off activities begin). An example of a Risk Assessment template can be found on the HSE website: http://www.hse.gov.uk/contact/faqs/riskassess.htm
First Aid It is expected that adults working with children, young people and vulnerable adults should be aware of basic first aid techniques. Although it is not a specific requirement, it is strongly recommended that at least one of the leaders in a children’s or youth group or group for vulnerable adults has attended a recognised First Aid course, and holds a current first aid certificate. First Aid courses are run by St John’s Ambulance and the British Red Cross, and may be offered in your area. See www.redcross.org.uk and /or www.sja.org.uk for details of first aid courses. Where First Aid is required, wherever possible, adults should ensure that at least one other adult is aware of the action being taken. Parents and carers should always be informed when first aid has been administered, and the incident noted in the Accident Book. If the injury appears to be serious, the emergency services should be called without delay, and parents/carers contacted promptly. Group Leaders should have available contact details for the Accident and Emergency Departments of the local hospital, and any other out of hours emergency services. Administering Prescribed Medication When a medical practitioner has prescribed medication that must be administered during an event or activity, key points to remember are: Depending upon the age/understanding of the child/vulnerable adult, they should be encouraged to self‐administer medical or treatment, and the Group Leader has a duty to take reasonable steps to ensure that the self‐administration is carried out safely. Parents of children who require regular prescribed medication to be administered must complete a written request, and establish a health care plan with the Group Leader in order to ensure the safety and protection of the child and adult who is working with them. In an emergency, adult leaders/helpers should provide a general emergency response, e.g. call an ambulance. Where an emergency response requires the immediate administration of the child or vulnerable adult’s medication to prevent serious illness or injury, this should be undertaken without delay, e.g. Ventolin for an asthma attack, etc. Fire Safety All leaders must be familiar with the fire regulations and fire‐fighting equipment for the event venue. Leaders must ensure that all children, young people and/or vulnerable adults know where the appropriate fire exits, alarms and assembly points are and are given instructions on what to do if the alarm sounds. All leaders must know the whereabouts of the nearest telephone. Children and young people must not use fire‐fighting equipment. In the event of a fire alarm being raised, evacuate the building move to the appropriate assembly points and take a roll call of those present. Contact the Fire Service, and be prepared to give details of the location; the nature of the incident, number of buildings/people involved and any potential hazards. Group Leaders should consider undertaking regular fire drills to ensure that adult helpers, children and/or vulnerable adults become familiar with the procedures, the location of the assembly points and any action to be taken. The PCC is responsible for ensuring that all fire‐fighting equipment including emergency exit lighting and smoke alarms are inspected regularly and a record kept. Any deficiencies must be repaired as soon as possible.
Code of Behaviour Propriety and Behaviour All adults working with children, young people and/or vulnerable adults have a responsibility to maintain public confidence in their ability to safeguard their welfare and best interests. It is therefore expected that they will adopt high standards of personal conduct in order to maintain the confidence and respect of all those they come into contact with. There may be times when an adult’s behaviour or actions in their personal life come under scrutiny because this may compromise their position within the church or indicate an unsuitability to work with children or vulnerable adults. Examples may include misuse of drugs, alcohol or acts of violence. Adults in contact with children or vulnerable adults should therefore understand and be aware that safe practice also involves using judgement and integrity about behaviour in places other than the church setting. Physical Contact A ‘no touch’ approach is both inappropriate and impractical, as physical contact is needed as part of expression and understanding of human relationships. However, when physical contact is made with children and/or vulnerable adults, this should never be abusive or intrusive, and the following good practice guidelines should be followed.
Not all children and young people feel comfortable about physical contact, and adults should therefore not make the assumption that it is acceptable practice to use touch as a means of communication.
All physical contact should be related to the child’s or vulnerable adult’s needs, not those of the adult worker.
Keep everything public. A hug in the context of a group is very different from a hug behind closed doors
Touch should be age appropriate and generally initiated by the child/vulnerable adult rather than the worker
Children, young people and vulnerable adults are entitled to privacy to ensure personal dignity
Children, young people and vulnerable adults have the right to decide how much physical contact they have with others, except in exceptional circumstances when they may need medical attention
When giving first aid (or applying sun cream, etc.), encourage the child and/or vulnerable adult to do what they can manage themselves, but consider the child’s/vulnerable adult’s best interests and give appropriate help where necessary
If an activity, for example bell ‐ringing, requires physical contact make sure that the young person and/or vulnerable adult and their parent/carer are aware of this and its nature
Some role responsibilities necessitate inmate physical contact with children, for example assisting with toileting. All children have a right to safety, privacy and dignity when contact of a physical or inmate nature is required and depending on their abilities, age and maturity should be encouraged to act as independently as possible. When taking young children to the toilet, make sure another adult is informed, and that the same adult is not always undertaking the toilet trips
Very occasionally it may be necessary to restrain a child or vulnerable adult who is harming him/herself or others. Use the least possible force and inform the parent/carer as soon as possible. All such incidents should be recorded and the information given to the Parish Safeguarding Representative
Team members should monitor one another in the area of physical contact. They should be free to help each other by constructively challenging anything which could be misunderstood or misconstrued
Those working with children and vulnerable adults must always be prepared to explain actions and accept that all physical contact is open to scrutiny. Concerns about abuse should always be reported.
Where a child or vulnerable adult seeks or initiates inappropriate physical contact with an adult, the situation should be handled sensitively and care taken to ensure that contact is not exploited in any way. In these situations, it is the responsibility of the adult to deter the child or vulnerable adult and help them understand the importance of personal boundaries. Such circumstances must always be reported and discussed with the Parish Safeguarding Representative. Discipline Although everyone has different thresholds of what counts as unacceptable behaviour, the following behaviours are never acceptable and should always be challenged and addressed, whatever a person’s age, ability or mental health:
misuse of drugs or alcohol on church premises
Leaders should set ground rules for participating activities, but avoid imposing too many rules. Before making a rule, ask whether it is necessary, i.e. does it protect a child or vulnerable adult’s health and safety? Too many rules may be difficult to enforce. Leaders should involve children and young people in devising a written code of conduct for their behaviour. This will make the rules clear and easily understood and children are less likely to break rules that they have helped to establish. Act quickly when a child or vulnerable adult presents challenging behaviour. Do not let a problem build up over time. If an individual has a particular disability or mental health issue, leaders and helpers should try to gain a better understanding of the behaviour through working with and/or talking to the parent or carer. Infatuations Occasionally, a child or young person may develop an infatuation with an adult who works with them. These adults should deal with these situations sensitively and appropriately to maintain the dignity and safety of all concerned. They should remain aware, however, that such infatuations carry a high risk of words or actions being misinterpreted and should therefore make every effort to ensure that their own behaviour is above reproach. An adult who becomes aware that a child or young person is developing an infatuation should discuss this at the earliest opportunity with their Incumbent or Parish Safeguarding Representative so appropriate action can be taken to avoid any hurt, distress or embarrassment. Drugs and Alcohol Use and Children and Young People The possession or use of illegal/unauthorised drugs during church activities is unacceptable, and should be dealt with firmly, promptly and fairly. Also, the use of legal drugs such as medicines needs to be managed appropriately. Information about acceptable behaviour with regards to drugs and alcohol should be provided to children and young people when behavioural guidelines are being drawn up for the church event and/or activity. This should include possible responses to drug/alcohol related incidents and that the parents and carers will be informed of any such incident(s). In certain circumstances the police may also be informed. An incident is likely to involve suspicions, observations, disclosures or discoveries of situations involving unauthorised drugs and/or alcohol. This may include:
Drugs/Alcohol found on church premises/during church activities
A child or young person is found in possession of drugs or alcohol
A child or young person is found to be a recognised source of supply of drugs on church premises/during church activities
A child or young person is thought to be under the influence of drugs/alcohol
A child or young person discloses that they are misusing drugs/alcohol
Dealing with Medical Emergencies In any incident involving drugs and/or alcohol, the church must place the utmost priority on safety, meeting any medical emergencies with first aid and summoning medical help before addressing further issues. If the Group Leader is in doubt they should seek medical assistance immediately. Unless they are unconscious, a child or young person may be intoxicated but no medical emergency may exist, and it is recommended that arrangements are made with a parent/carer for the child or young person to be collected or escorted home. Confiscation and Disposal of Illegal Drugs The Group Leader should take temporary possession of any substance suspected of being an illegal drug for the purposes of protecting the child or young person from harm, and to prevent an offence being committed in relation to that drug. The substances should be stored securely, and arrangements made for its disposal without delay. An adult witness should be present when confiscations occur and a record should be kept of their details. The Police may also need to be informed. The Group Leader should not attempt to analyse or taste unknown or confiscated substances. If requested, the police can advise on analysis, formal identification and disposal of illegal drugs. Confiscation of Other Unauthorised Drugs Parents and carers should always be informed of any incident where unauthorised drugs such as alcohol, tobacco, volatile substances (such as lighter fuel, glue or aerosols), and medicines have been confiscated, and given the opportunity to collect anything that has been confiscated. Investigation and Evaluation The Group Leader should judge the nature and seriousness of each incident, and this may involve informing and consulting others as necessary e.g. the Police. Factors that should be taken in consideration include:
Does the child or young person admit or deny allegations?
Options available to the Group Leader when responding to the needs of those involved in a drugs related incident may include:
Referral to an external agency (in liaison with parent/carer)
Confidentiality The Group Leader and other leaders/helpers cannot and should not promise total confidentiality to a child or young person who is involved in a drug‐related incident or discloses drug use. Advice should be sought from the Parish Safeguarding Representative and/or Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser in such cases.
Incident Recording The Group Leader should make a full record of every drugs related incident in a specific incident book. This should be stored securely. In any incident involving drugs, the Group Leader must inform the child or young person’s parent/carer and explain how the incident was managed and agree a way forward. Useful Contacts Parish Child Protection Representative
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