Up until now Safeguarding has been covered by a number of different Constitutional and Policy documents but it has been decided to produce a specific Safeguarding Policy for the Western Front Association in order to ensure we fully meet the requirements of the Charity Commission.
Charities are required to have a Safeguarding Policy together with a Procedure for its implementation. It is also necessary to carry out and record a Risk Assessment.
The Executive Committee has adopted the Policy, Procedure and Risk Assessment and these will shortly be available on the website.
There can be no doubt that, notwithstanding, the legal obligations, the reputational risk to a charity is enormous if an incident occurs. The adoption by Branches of this Safeguarding Policy and Procedures will help to protect Branch Committees and individual members from the worst effects of malicious claims as well as fulfilling our obligations of protection for those who come into contact with this charity.
A downloadable document Safeguarding and protecting people for charities and trustees is available from Gov.UK. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/safeguarding-duties-for-charity-trustees and it is recommended that Branch Committees familiarise themselves with it. Safeguarding does not only apply to the protection of children from sexual harassment but has wider implications.
The particular nature of the WFA and its semi-autonomous branch network at home and overseas (including Ireland) present a particular challenge to the organisation with regard to compliance with HM Governments requirements. These notes relate to England and Wales but Branches overseas, Scotland and Ireland should check their local regulations.
In some cases individual branches have more contact with children, than the operation of the Executive Committee [EC] nationally. There is an increasing emphasis on contact with schools and the recruitment of younger members but it should be recognised that there is a concomitant increase in risk for the WFA, the Branch and individual members if robust safeguarding measures are not in place.
It seems likely that for the purpose of safeguarding compliance Branch Committees would be considered volunteers to the WFA charity.
Normal common sense precautions such as never being alone with children or vulnerable adults not only protects the child but also the branch member from unsubstantiated allegations which would be embarrassing to both the member and the WFA as a whole.
Photography of children can be particularly sensitive. Branches which hold events and wish to photograph children for example wearing tin hats or equipment should protect themselves by obtaining consent to take a child’s photograph, particularly if it is intended to publish the photograph externally or even in the WFA publications.
The following notes on Policy and Risk Assessment are intended to assist Branch Committees but are suggested as the minimum requirement.
If Branches have any questions relating to the subject of Safeguarding they can be directed to the Education Trustee.
Suggested Policy on Safeguarding for Branch Committees
- Branch Committees should formally adopt the WFA Safeguarding Policy and subsequent revisions published on the Western Front Association Website.
- Branch Committees should designate a member to have particular responsibility for issues relating to Safeguarding.
- Branch Committees should be aware of and implement the Safeguarding Procedures which accompany the Safeguarding Policy on the WFA website. Branch Committee members must pay particular attention to the obligations placed upon them to immediately report to the Executive Committee any incidents of which they become aware and to assist the Executive Committee in any investigation.
- Branch Committees must carry out risk assessments in respect of Safeguarding for all their activities. A generic Risk Assessment is included with the Safeguarding Policy but where a more specific risk assessment is required it should be recorded in writing and retained for at least twelve months.
- It is necessary that Branch Committees review the Policy, Procedure and Risk Assessment on an annual basis, it is suggested it may be included as an item in Branch AGM Minutes.
Suggested Risk Assessment for Branches
Individual branches interact with the public and hence potentially children and vulnerable adults in the following ways:
- By holding regular meetings to hear educational talks about Great War subjects. These meetings may include some social interaction. Meetings whilst predominantly targeted at members are open to the public.
- By organising external events to promote the charity’s goal of promoting remembrance of the Great War.
- By participating at events organised by others to promote the WFA and its goals.
- By organising trips to the battlefields.
- By producing newsletters and by presence on social media.
Although the attendance at branch meetings by unaccompanied children or vulnerable adults is possible the safeguarding risk is low because of the public nature of the meetings.
The participation by a branch in events which may specifically be targeted at children, such as school educational visits, by definition must be treated with due regard to the safeguarding of the participants. Where teachers or other responsible supervisors with suitable DBS checks are present the risk of safeguarding would predominantly be shouldered by the school or institution and therefore the safeguarding risk to the WFA Branch is low.
Where a branch participates in a non-supervised activity with children or vulnerable adults a ‘job specific’ risk assessment should be carried out. Any risk assessment producing an appreciable outcome should result in a plan being put into force to bring the risk down to low or negligible. Such action could include inter-alia ensuring members are never alone with children, avoiding closed rooms recruiting qualified supervisors.
Branch trips should only accept unaccompanied children or vulnerable adults in the most exceptional circumstances and only after extensive job specific risk assessment and mitigation measures.
A Bolton Education Trustee