Safeguarding and Child Protection


1. Purpose and scope

As members of this church, we are committed to providing a culture of care in our nurturing, protection, and safekeeping of all, especially children and young people. It is the responsibility of each one of us to prevent physical, sexual, and emotional abuse of children and young people, and to report any abuse discovered or suspected. We recognise that our work with children and young people is the responsibility of the whole church, and we undertake to exercise proper care in the selection and appointment of those working with children and young people, whether paid or Volunteer. This document provides the procedures that we need to follow to ensure safeguarding of the children and young people in our care and to protect those responsible for the supervision of the children and young people. It should be read in conjunction with the other Lancing Tab processes and procedures but with particular attention being paid to the Health and Safety – Childrens and Young Peoples Activities procedure.

2. Policy

The church is committed to supporting, resourcing, and training those who work with, and provide supervision to, children and young people. The church is also committed to following the Safe from Harm: Home Office Guidance for all Voluntary Organisations and undertakes to implement and adopt the guidelines and procedures in this Safeguarding and Child Protection procedure. Each worker with children and young people must know and understand the recommendations and undertake to observe them. Each worker shall be given a copy of these procedures and guidelines. As part of our commitment to children and young people, the church has appointed a Safeguarding Team (listed at annex A) to ensure that our Safeguarding and Child Protection procedures are maintained, updated, and applied. The lead member of the team is nominated by the Elders and known as the ‘Safeguarding Lead’ for Safeguarding and Child Protection within the church whose role will be regularly explained to children, and whose name and emergency contact details (dedicated phone number & email address) shall be publicly displayed. The Safeguarding Lead shall not be selected from the Eldership Team.

We will always try to work in partnership with families but in any conflict between the needs of the child or young person and those of parents/carers or professionals, the needs of the young person must come first.

3. Safeguarding Procedure

3.1 Types of Abuse 

There are five types of abuse which can be defined in the following way:

  • Physical: Where children’s bodies are hurt or injured.
     
  • Emotional: Where children do not receive love and affection, may be frightened of threats and taunts or are given responsibilities beyond their years.
     
  • Sexual: Where children are used to satisfy sexual desires physically, emotionally, or verbally.
     
  • Neglect: Where adults fail to care for children and protect them from danger, seriously impairing health, and development.

3.2 Signs of Abuse

It is important that all workers who have direct or indirect contact with children can recognise potential signs of abuse. The following signs are a few that can indicate abuse. However, workers must never jump to conclusions as there may be other explanations for these signs. 

  • Physical: Unexplained or hidden injuries. Lack of medical attention. 
     
  • Emotional:  Reverting to younger behaviour, nervousness, sudden under achievement, running away, stealing, lying, bullying, violent behaviour.
     
  • Sexual: Pre-occupation with sexual matters evident in words and play, being sexually provocative, disturbed sleep, bedwetting, secretive relationships, tummy pains with no apparent cause. 
     
  • Neglect:  Looking ill-cared for in appearance, undernourished, overly withdrawn or aggressive, having lingering health problems. 

3.3 Procedure for suspected or reported incidents of abuse or serious accidents

3.3.1 If you suspect abuse or if a child confides in you that they have been abused: 

  • Do not delay.
  • Discuss the matter with a member of the Safeguarding Team and / or the Safeguarding Lead immediately (unless the concern relates to this person). Provide them with as much information as possible.
  • The Safeguarding Lead or other member of the Safeguarding Team will then follow the Safe from Harm guidelines (see above) and contact the West Sussex Safeguarding Children Board (‘the MASH’) (see Annex).
  • If you are worried about the safety of a child and you believe there is an immediate risk to that child or young person, it is to be treated as an emergency and you should dial 999 to report concerns to the police.
  • If neither the Safeguarding Lead nor a member of the Safeguarding Team are available and you feel that action is necessary because a child is at risk, please contact the West Sussex Safeguarding Children Board (‘the MASH’) (see Annex). Please inform one of the members of the Safeguarding Team or the Safeguarding Lead that you have made a referral as soon as possible.
  • If the allegations in any way involve the Minister, his wife, or Elders, then a report should also be made to the FIEC head office (see Annex).
  • If any staff member, Elder or Volunteer is accused of abuse they should be suspended from their duties while the referral action is taken.
  • If, after discussion with the Safeguarding Team, you still feel that insufficient action is being taken, then contact the MASH directly with your concerns and let the Safeguarding team know that you have done this.


3.3.2 If a child confides in you about any form of abuse: 

  • Accept what the child says and keep calm.
     
  • Just listen. Your initial response should be limited to listening carefully to what the child says.
  • Do not ask leading questions.
  • Reassure the child that they are not to blame and that they are right to tell.
  • Explain to the child that you will need to tell someone else about this and why you need to do this.
  • Record the conversation in as much detail as possible, following the procedures as detailed in 3.3.1. and remember to make a note of your perception of the child’s mood.

NOTE: It is essential that you make a written record of any conversation as soon as possible after the conversation has happened. Details of the conversation may be used by the authorities in any subsequent action taken and it is in the interests of all parties concerned that information provided by you is as accurate and detailed as possible. The original is passed to the Safeguarding Lead and a copy is kept by you for your records.
 

4. Records and Information Sharing

  • All records containing children’s personal information shall be kept locked securely in a designated cupboard. 
  • All accidents on premises will be recorded in the Accident Book, which is kept in the first aid kit. 
  • Children’s information should not be shared with a third party without the consent of their parents. The only exception to this is when if you suspect abuse and information needs to be shared to keep the child safe as in 3.3.1. 
  • Confidentiality is critical at all stages of any investigation and related information is NOT TO BE SHARED other than with those that have a right or a need to know.
  • Written records are to be completed using the proforma which will also provide guidance on handling such situations involving allegations of abuse, inappropriate behaviour, or serious concern (see note in 3.3.2 above). These will be stored securely in the church safe.  A copy shall be provided to the Safeguarding Lead at the earliest opportunity. 


5. Appointment of Children’s Workers, Youth Workers and Volunteers

In order to safeguard children and young people, it is important that all staff, Elders and Volunteers intended to have direct or indirect contact with children undergo appropriate checks to ensure that they are not known to be a risk to children and / or other vulnerable people. We have therefore put in place a process for the appointment of new workers and Volunteers as follows:


5.1 Youth Worker Applicants

Before anyone is approached to help in any of our youth activities, the Safeguarding Lead must be informed.

All new appointments of any person who will be in a position where they work with children and young people, must go through the following process. This is good practice and the reasons for this process, which is to protect children and adults, will be explained to the person applying for the position. An appointment file shall be raised for each new worker so that a record can be kept of the steps taken in the appointment process.

  • Before being appointed to a position where a person will be working with children or young people, an applicant shall be interviewed to explore their relevant experience in this work and their reasons for volunteering.
     
  • At least one character reference (written or verbal) will be obtained for each person. Where a verbal reference is given then a written note of the conversation including the date, content and people involved shall be provided by the interviewer to be included in the appointment file as a permanent record.
     
  • A Disclosure and Barring application will be completed by the Safeguarding Lead. Each person will be advised about the process of obtaining this from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) (see Annex).
     
  • If the results of the DBS check are unclean but the applicant wishes to continue with the application for youth work, the matter is to be passed to the Elders for discussion and approval.
     
  • Each person appointed will sign an agreement (or a contract if the person is to be paid) which shall be included in the appointment file to confirm that they have seen and will adhere to the policies and processes of the Church which are applicable to their appointment. (Note, Helpers/Volunteers will sign a lesser agreement to the Leader however it is important that all involved in an organisation are aware of, and sign up to, their responsibilities)
     
  • Once appointed, each person will be assigned a supporter who will be available to help and encourage them in their new role. 
     
  • Each new Leader is required to complete a probationary period of 3 months. This will enable the church to ensure that this person is a suitable leader and to ensure that the individual is supported in their new role.  
     
  • At the end of this probationary period, the worker shall arrange a meeting with their supporter to review their progress. This meeting will give the supporter an opportunity to encourage the worker and to raise any concerns about their work. It will also give the worker an opportunity to feedback about their experiences and to voice any questions / concerns that they have about their role. The appointment will be confirmed or terminated following this meeting by a member of the Safeguarding Team and a written record of the decision added to the appointment file.
     
  • The supporter role will continue after the end of the probationary period to provide opportunity for discussion of problems and feedback on a more informal basis. In addition, one member of the Safeguarding team will attend at least one planning / review meeting for each Youth / Children’s activity per year to provide the opportunity to discuss issues relating to Child Protection and to receive feedback. These will then be discussed and addressed by the Safeguarding team.
     
  • Should any concerns arise relating to the conduct of any person working with children or young people within the church then these must be raised with a member of the Safeguarding team at the earliest opportunity. If these concerns are deemed justified it is the responsibility of the Safeguarding team to discuss the matter with the person concerned and to take any necessary action. A note of these actions is to be placed in the appointment file for that individual.

Each person will be advised about the process of obtaining a disclosure from the DBS by the Safeguarding Team. 


6. Youth Activities – Requirements of Leadership 

6.1 Behaviour

To maximise the safeguarding of the children and young people involved in Church activities, those in leadership (staff, Elders, Volunteers, Leaders, Youth Workers and Helpers) shall abide by the following:

  • Must treat all children and young people with respect and dignity. They must use age-appropriate language and tone of voice and be aware of the effect they are having on the individual child or young person.
     
  • Will respect the wishes of parents and not knowingly undermine their authority.
     
  • ?Will not give children and young people access to church premises unless the activity Leader or their nominated representative (who must also be an appointed Children’s Worker, Youth Worker or Volunteer as per section 5.1 above) are present.
     
  • Will not behave in a manner that is suggestive, offensive, or sarcastic and will ensure that any physical contact or conversation cannot be construed as overtly violent or affectionate.
  • Shall make all reasonable efforts not to be alone on church premises with a child or group of children and young people.
  • Shall ensure that they are not alone with a child where they cannot be seen. In a counselling situation (see 3.3.2 above) where confidentiality and privacy are important, another adult should be informed that the meeting is taking place and where this is.
  • There is to be no photography of children without parental consent.
  • Are not to invite a child or young person to be alone with them in a home without another person being present and / or parents being informed.
  • Whilst Lancing Tab strives to be all-inclusive, any child deemed to require special/intimate care will require a parent to be in attendance to help and advise accordingly.
  • Any parent required to be in attendance, as above, will require the usual DBS clearance to be carried out.
     
  • Must not invade the privacy of children or young people when they are using the toilet.
  • Must not take part in rough games involving physical contact between a Leader and a child or young person.
     
  • Must not engage in any sexually provocative games.
  • Must not make any sexually suggestive comments about or to a child or young person, even in fun.
     
  • Must not belittle, ridicule, or reject a child or young person, or apportion undue blame or do anything to undermine their self-esteem.

7 Electronic Communications

7.1 Leaders Responsibilities

Within the course of Youth / Children’s Work, Leaders may have to contact children by email or some other form of on-line communication (Facebook etc.). It may also be the case that Leaders become aware of children encountering problems with or need to give advice to children regarding the use and effects of such types of communication. Leaders need to make themselves aware of the issues that children may face on-line and be sensitive to how they advise children. Leaders also need to act with the utmost care not to encourage one to one on-line communication between children and themselves and to apply the highest levels of personal integrity in any form of on-line communications they undertake as part of their role. All on-line communication should be kept to purely organisational detail (i.e. arranging time/date/place for meetings). Leaders should never offer or imply that information given to them by a child will necessarily be kept private and must always consider the need to contact parents/care agencies if they are concerned about a child’s behaviour online or if they perceive a danger to the child.


7.2 Electronic Communication Principles

Where Leaders become aware of children contacting them directly online or are involved in offering advice to children they should be guided by the following principles:

7.2.1 Publishing of children’s images

Children need to be taught the reasons for caution in publishing personal information and images in social publishing sites.

  • Images that include children will be selected carefully and will not enable individual children to be clearly identified.  
     
  • Children’s’ full names will not be used anywhere on the church website, particularly in association with photographs.

When children start at Lancing Tabernacle youth groups, parent/carers are asked for permission to publish photos and work online.


7.2.2 Management of social networking and personal publishing

There are many examples of social networking sites and ways in which personal information can be published.

  • Children should be advised never to give out personal details of any kind which may identify them and / or their location.  Examples would include their name, address, mobile or landline phone numbers, school attended, e-mail or other messaging addresses, full names of friends, specific interests, and clubs etc.
     
  • Children should be advised not to place personal photos on any social network space. They should consider how public the information is and consider using private areas. Advice should be given regarding background detail in a photograph which could identify the student or his/her location e.g., house number, street name or school.
     
  • Leaders’ official blogs or wikis should be password protected.  Leaders should be advised not to run social network spaces for young people’s use on a personal basis.
     
  • Leaders should be aware that bullying can take place through social networking especially when a space has been setup without a password and others are invited to see the bully’s comments.
     
  • If Leaders discover unsuitable sites, the URL must be reported to the e Safety Coordinator.

7.2.3 Protection of personal data

  • Personal data will be recorded, processed, transferred, and made available according to the Lancing Tab Data Protection Policy.


7.2.4 Do’s and Don’ts when Communicating Electronically with Children and Young People

The following principles are taken from the Home Office Guide ‘Safe from Harm’ referenced in section 2 above:

  • If children or young people want you to hold their mobile phone numbers, e-mail addresses or similar, make sure that their parents know and have agreed. 
     
  • Keep communications short. If you need a discussion, fix a time to do so face to face during or following the group. 
     
  • Use an appropriate tone; friendly, and not over-familiar or personal. 
     
  • Whilst communications should be warm and friendly, they should not suggest or offer a special relationship.
     
  • Respect the young person’s confidentiality unless abuse is suspected or disclosed. (It may involve a process to reach this point). 
     
  • Make sure your communication is such that it would not embarrass you if it were to be seen by the young person’s parents or church officials. 


8 Levels of Supervision

The following is a guide to the minimal level of supervision that is required when organising activities with children and young people:

0 to 3 years three adults for up to eight children, plus an additional adult for every additional four children.

4 to 7 years three adults for up to sixteen children, plus an additional adult for every additional eight children.

8 years plus three adults for up to twenty children, plus an additional adult for every additional ten children.

In ALL cases, there must be at least one male and one female Leader / Helper in attendance.


9 Challenging of individuals

Because our premises are rarely locked when a Church activity is taking place on the premises, Leaders must always challenge any individual who gives cause for concern or who arouses suspicion.


10 In Conclusion

It is our prayer and commitment that by following the above procedures and implementing this child protection policy, that this Church will be a safe place for young people’s faith to grow. As a church we hope to encourage an atmosphere of mutual support which allows everyone to feel comfortable enough to discuss potentially inappropriate attitudes or behaviour. If you see a person acting in a way which may appear to be inappropriate regarding the guidelines within this document, please speak directly to that person or to the Safeguarding Lead / a member of the Safeguarding Team about your concerns. 

 
ANNEX A
 
CONTACT DETAILS
 
Note: This annex does not form part of the main process document as such and is attached here for reference only. It should be updated when changes are made to the Safeguarding Team and can be circulated to those in receipt of the process document without the need to re-issue the main document itself.
 
The Safeguarding Team
 
1. Safeguarding Lead: Mark Deacon
2. RADAR Leader
3. SPIN Leader
4. MINIs Leader
5. UP23 Leader
6. iTAB Leader
7. Process Lead: Steve Edwards
 
 
e-Safety Coordinator: TBD
 
 
Organisations referenced in this Safeguarding and Child Protection procedure:
 
FIEC Head Office                                              01858 43 45 40
39 The Point,
Market Harborough,
LE16 7QU
 
 
Disclosure and Barring Service                       08709 090822
 
West Sussex Safeguarding Children Board    (Mulit-Agency Safeguarding Hub ‘MASH’)
                                                                        01403 229900 (8am – 5pm, weekdays)
                                                                        03302 226644 (24hour emergency)
or email MASH@westsussex.gcsx.gov.uk (subject: ALERT FOR EDT)
 
 
Note: For more information about the types and signs of abuse or for information about making a referral, see the West Sussex Safeguarding Children Board website.