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Last updated: 12.09.18

Safeguarding in sport

Why is Safeguarding so important?

in the UK, we still see cases year in, year out, of vulnerable children and adults being abused in some form, whether sexually, financially, or in any other manner. Safeguarding is aimed at protecting these vulnerable children or adults from abuse and neglect in all circumstances.

Safeguarding means putting processes in place to ensure that vulnerable people are not abused in any way, including verbally or physically. This includes all procedures designed to prevent harm, also refers to the process of protecting children and adults - by providing safe and effective care.

Safeguarding as a general concept is to protect people from harm and the best way to do that is to put appropriate measures in place. This often comes in the form of a framework, which allows those involved to follow certain steps and prevent negative outcomes in a tried and tested manner. It is never the responsibility of just one or two people, but more of a principle that everyone must follow if they come into contact with vulnerable people.

Why is Safeguarding in sport so important?

Learning and development in sport, specifically when it comes to safeguarding, has not always been a high training priority throughout many sporting bodies and organisations. This is not necessarily because clubs are not committed to protecting those at risk, in many cases they simply have not been exposed to the most effective way of successfully enhancing their safeguarding standards.

We have worked within the safeguarding sector for over ten years and are keen to share our best practice. It is important to remember that those that work in a club are not responsible for deciding whether or not abuse has taken place, but they are responsible for spotting warning signs, knowing who to pass their concerns on to and for reporting any issues.

It is the people, not policies, that safeguard the vulnerable. In order to achieve effective safeguarding standards, every single member of staff should be fully aware what safeguarding really means for their club and what supportive steps should have been put in place.

Here are our top tips for clubs:

Checkout your checklist

First things first, any strong safeguarding strategy should ensure that all of the following are in place throughout your establishment and that this basic information reaches all members of staff, including your volunteers:

  1. Clear responsibilities and lines of accountability throughout your clubs.
  2. Easily accessible safeguarding policies and guidance for all.
  3. A system that allows your organisation to monitor your training and development.
  4. Engaging training so everyone can identify and respond effectively to any safeguarding-related incidents and concerns.
  5. A club wide, cultural understanding of safeguarding imperatives and responsibilities.
  6. Consistent use of recording procedures.

Do more than just tick a box

If clubs are not careful they can treat safeguarding with a defensive mindset, and worry only about regulatory compliance.

You can have a comprehensive list of training courses, which may be a mix of face-to-face sessions and online resources, but how do you make sure they’re making a difference?

The Charity Commission for England and Wales recently encouraged third sector organisations to go further than 'simple box-ticking' against their legal duties in order to improve safeguarding, which we believe is something all organisations can learn from.

The single biggest benefit of a custom-developed online training resource is relevance to your club. With a bespoke e-learning project, you can tailor every single aspect of the course - from the look and feel of the content and the learning materials, right through to the choice of vocabulary and the values it embodies. A bespoke course allows the training to be mapped to your individual organisational needs.

Ultimately, the objective is to ensure participants are simply not rushing through vital training as quickly as they can, to the point where they are not paying full attention or going through the motions simply to tick a box. We are dedicated to putting people in control of their own learning and using a variety of methods to get people engaged, motivated and eager to put their new-found knowledge and skills into practice.

Break down any learning and development barriers

Using a Learning Management System (LMS) has many advantages for supporting standards. We see this day in and day out with the organisations we work with, all around the world.

For example, utilising an LMS means that you can:

  • Set club-wide, measurable, safeguarding objectives and standards.
  • Monitor and review how your staff and volunteers are developing and progressing over time.
  • Facilitate, organise and roll out your face-to-face and online sessions in a manner that engages with everyone.

This can be complemented with an online self-assessment, such as Enable Audit, so your club can see exactly where your safeguarding standards have been effective and areas where your club(s) need to improve.

Utilising Enable Audit means that you can:

  • Create bespoke self-assessment safeguarding templates that fit your organisation’s needs.
  • Submit information, evidence and action plans and record them in a centralised, secure system.
  • Generate detailed and comparative reports and easily analyse progress and areas for improvement.

The government recently released guidelines in Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018 which outlines the duties of all organisations that work with children. There is also government advice for practitioners which has tips on how to identify the signs of child abuse and neglect and the action to take. However, remember if you are not a safeguarding practitioner your main responsibility is to report any concerns to the appropriate person, for example, your Club Welfare Officer.

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