Safeguarding is about protecting others as well as yourself from harm.
As part of your application, the Home Office will expect you to submit a safeguarding policy. If you have another organisation acting as your Lead Sponsor, they can assist you with this, and may require you to follow their own safeguarding policy. You must give your Local Authority's Safeguarding Team (or equivalent) an opportunity to comment on your Safeguarding policy.
Your Local Authority should have information available on safeguarding procedures and may be able to offer you support, training or guidance on how to begin developing a safeguarding policy. Most Local Authorities offer safeguarding training and we recommend that you attend this.
We strongly advise you to familiarise your group with your Local Authority’s safeguarding procedures, ultimately they are the statutory body responsible for dealing with any safeguarding issues that arise.
The key legislation relating to the welfare of children is the Children Act 1989, particularly section 17 “Children in Need” and section 47 “Significant Harm”. These mainly relate to the Local Authorities in safeguarding children, but your safeguarding officers will need to be aware of them.
It may also be helpful for your group's Designated Safeguarding Lead to be familiar with the document “Working together to Safeguard Children” and to know how organisations can work together effectively.
The key legislation relating to vulnerable adults is the Care Act 2014. You can find the text of the Act here.
Advice for Groups in Scotland
Safeguarding in Scotland is managed at a national level. Make sure you are aware of what is required in your nation. A guide is available to download from this page, kindly produced by the Scottish Refugee Council.
Understanding your Local Authority
Although the statutory duty is the same across each Local Authority, their structures may vary and you will need to understand the process in your area.
Each Local Authority will have information on their website about their safeguarding policies and procedures, but it can take time to understand this, and to find out who you need to contact if you had a concern to report. We strongly advise you to take time to research this and relay this information to your Designated Safeguarding Lead.
Each Local Authority will have a Safeguarding Team (some may be in combination with other Local Authorities). Most have a website and we have provided a link to these in the Useful Resources section at the end of this page.
Some Local Authorities will provide advice and guidance about policies and practices in the local area, the availability of training and have very informative websites. We recommend this as starting point to understand safeguarding in your local area. Although their remit is specifically on safeguarding children, they may well be able to direct you to information on safeguarding vulnerable adults, or there may be significant crossover in policies or information.
When making a safeguarding referral, the point of contact may vary according to the type of issue, for example whether the issue concerns a child or a vulnerable adult. In many areas the Local Authority will have a Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) which will be the first point of contact for any safeguarding issue and will then refer the matter on to the appropriate department. Some may deal only with issues involving children, others may also deal with issues concerning vulnerable adults. We advise you to research this when drafting your safeguarding policy.
Your role as sponsors
Your role as a sponsor group is not to take the place of the statutory authorities, such as the Local Authority’s Children and Families Service, police or medical services.
Your role is to assess whether there are concerns about the welfare of children or vulnerable adults and take action to address them where appropriate. This may involve reporting concerns to the relevant statutory services (ideally with the consent of the people concerned, where possible) and working with them to address the concern.
As a group, you will need to record your concerns, the actions you take, and the actions taken or advice given by other organisations. For example, if you are concerned about the welfare of a child, you would record the reasons for your concern, the fact that you referred the case to the Local Authority Children and Families Service, the actions they took, and any advice or information they gave to the group.
You may encounter situations where you have a concern about someone’s welfare, but you are unsure whether it reaches the threshold to make a safeguarding referral. In these cases, group members should discuss the situation with their Designated Safeguarding Lead, who will then consult the Lead Sponsor's Safeguarding Lead. The DSL can contact the relevant team at the Local Authority for advice, without disclosing confidential information, who can offer guidance on whether it is something that needs to be referred to them and how to proceed. As stated above, we advise you research the various departments and contact numbers in advance of receiving a family.
In some situations, the Local Authority may ask you to work with them to manage the situation. For example, they may ask your group to introduce a social worker and be present at initial meetings to help build trust. They may also set up regular meetings to discuss the situation and ask your group to be present at them.
If suggested, you should not expect to have to take or accept the role of managing a serious safeguarding concern. This can open your group up to significant risk and lead to incorrect support being provided. There may be some low-level issues which your Local Authority or Lead Sponsor can support you to address, but you should be prepared to push back if you feel they are asking your group to exceed your capabilities. There may also be other forms of support which your Local Authority may be able to refer lower level cases to, such as Family Support Services.
Covid-19 and Safeguarding
During the Covid-19 pandemic, your support to a refugee family has changed. Especially initially, a lot of your support will be taking place online. The family may also spend more time online than they would otherwise - for example the adults may attend some of their English classes online.
It’s worth putting in place measures in line with your existing safeguarding policies and procedure during this time. It’s really important that any review of your safeguarding procedures are carried out in conjunction with your Lead Sponsor and any changes communicated to your Group.
Some areas to think about:
- Has your Local Authority Safeguarding Team launched any new updates, resources or assistance that might be helpful?
- Does every member of the family know how to contact you for help and assistance?
- Does every member of your Group know what to do should they have a safeguarding concern?
We’re all seeing media coverage of the increase to the dangers surrounding child abuse, domestic violence and coercive control during isolation measures. It can feel awkward to raise anything which may be a safeguarding concern, but we would recommend that you do so to flag that help and support is available should someone need this.
You could do this by:
- In your ordinary interactions with the family, you would usually have something to do with each member of the family; and naturally you will have different relationships with each individual – we may use the term family – but this is not a single homogenous unit. Make sure you keep up contact with them individually. Offer an option of ways to get in contact – could it be email and phone, as well as video calls if you can offer these. If you have not had any recent interaction with a particular family member, ask to speak to them.
- Reshare the Welcome to the UK booklet that the family will have been given. If the family don’t have a copy, you could download the sections from our training website and email them to the family- section 7 specifically outlines child protection and domestic violence and contains links and contact information for those needing help.
- Create a file of useful contact information for the family – this could include reminders on how to contact your Group along with helpline and advice services and the emergency ‘make yourself heard’ details. This is where you can call 999, and if in danger and cannot speak, you can press 55 and a connection will be established and help found.
- Help adults in a family to set parental restrictions on devices – with a likely increase to the use of devices during isolation, ask the guardians of children if they need assistance in keeping children safe online. The NSPCC has advice on preventing online grooming
- Access the Home Office guide to safeguarding from harmful influences online
- Unfortunately, there may be some who try to use the Covid-19 crisis as an opportunity to carry out fraud or scamming. Remind the family you support that they should not disclose bank account, personal details or information online, by phone or in person unless they are very clear on why, and how this information is used.
If you are worried about the safety of any member of the family you are supporting, speak to your safeguarding lead immediately.
- The websites listed below contain a range of resources which may be useful when preparing your safeguarding policy and planning how to deal with issues that arise.
- Safeguarding Teams: http://www.safecic.co.uk/your-scb-acpc/55-free- downloads-and-safeguarding-links/61-safeguarding-children-board-links
- NSPCC tools, training and resources: https://learning.nspcc.org.uk/
- Social Care Institute for Excellence resources: https://www.scie.org.uk/safeguarding
- Action for Children: https://www.actionforchildren.org.uk/what-we-do/our- impact/safeguarding-children-from-neglect/
- Safeguarding older people: https://www.ageuk.org.uk/globalassets/age- uk/documents/factsheets/fs78_safeguarding_older_people_from_abuse_fcs.pdf
- Women's aid safety and support resources for survivors and for their family and community translated into a number of languages.
- The National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV) has a self-referral system to apply for an emergency court injunction.
- Arabic translation of escaping domestic abuse
- Various government resources: https://www.gov.uk/topic/schools-colleges-childrens- services/safeguarding-children