Safeguarding children – steps for charities and their trustees

Updated: Aug 21, 2018

Safeguarding children is of paramount importance to all organisations, including charities, their staff, and their trustees.  Trustees are at least one step removed from the actual carrying out of safeguarding practices, as they do not deliver services; yet the responsibilities that they have are wide-ranging and often scary.

How safeguarding is governed is a major part of any organisation, how trustees can get the assurance that the services that their charity or organisation offer, and the work that they do, protect children and vulnerable adults.

In this interesting article “More safeguarding expertise is needed on charity boards”, experts rightly explain that trustees have a responsibility to better scrutinise their charity’s practices instead of seeing it as a “tick-box exercise”.

Karen Walker-Simpson, head of safeguarding at Comic Relief, said that safeguarding must be embedded in practice. She said: “There is a need to move beyond a tick-box approach to compliance in favour of one which focuses on increasing understanding and influencing actual lived practice.”

Our work helping non-executives, such as trustees, school governors, and elected councillors to get to understand safeguarding responsibilities, practices and how they can embed a ‘reality check’ into the way that they govern, has helped us to develop ‘Steps to safeguarding children’.

Our steps encompass roles, responsibilities and reality checking, which charities and their trustees can build into their daily governing practices to help protect children:

  • Roles and responsibilities – trustees and non-executives need to fully understand their role and that of the organisation that they govern, including legislation and practice.

  • Working together – there may be many organisations that your charity needs to work with, and therefore there is a need to understand how the local safeguarding system works, and how the charity or organisation fits into this.

  • Who are the children or vulnerable adults? Gaining an appreciation for their customers or users of the services that the charity supports – and understanding local demographics and challenges.

  • Gaining their perspective – effective listening and involvement of children is needed to find out whats really happening – and get a ‘reality check’.

  • What effective governance is – using and understanding how governance can be improved with the use of  effective challenge and questioning techniques

  • Making a difference – ensuring that your governing practices can work on a daily basis to safeguard children and make a difference.

If you are a trustee or non-executive we hope that you find these steps helpful – but get in touch if you need more help.