What is Safeguarding?

Safeguarding is all about having the knowledge and awareness to understand various types of abuse and neglect, being able to identify the signs and what to look for; knowing what steps to take if you suspect abuse is happening and knowing what to do if a child or an adult discloses abuse. Understanding the Safeguarding agenda will also help ensure your organisation works responsibly and safely, without putting staff in vulnerable positions.

A relationship between an adult and child, young person or vulnerable adult is not a relationship between equals. It is vital for all those in positions of trust to understand the power this can give them over those they care for and the responsibility they must exercise as a consequence of this relationship.

A relationship of trust applies to staff or volunteers who are, as a result of their knowledge, position and/or the authority invested in their role, in a position of power or influence over a child, young person or vulnerable adult.

The Voluntary & Community Sector (VCS) is in just such a position and therefore must be equipped to deal with a situation in which this relationship of trust is abused. Safeguarding policies are in place to help.

Safeguarding has been defined as:

  • All agencies working with children, young people and their families taking all reasonable measures to ensure that the risks of harm to children’s welfare are minimised; and

  • Where there are concerns about children and young people’s welfare, all agencies taking appropriate actions to address those concerns, working to agreed local policies and procedures in full partnership with other local agencies.

Who does Safeguarding protect?

Safeguarding protects vulnerable people falling under the following headings:

  • Early Years

  • Children

  • Children with Disabilities

  • Young People

  • Vulnerable Adults

Who are Vulnerable Adults?

A vulnerable adult as described by the Care Standards Act 2000 is a person aged 18 or over who has a condition of the following type:

  • A learning or physical disability

  • A physical or mental illness, chronic or otherwise, including addiction to alcohol or drugs; or

  • A reduction in physical or mental capacity

Whose responsibility is it?


How does safeguarding protect my organisation?

Understanding the Safeguarding agenda will also help ensure your organisation works responsibly and safely, without putting staff in vulnerable positions.

What should your organisation be doing?

'A safe organisation: Ensures that its governing body, all of its employees, commissioned or contracted agents and volunteers or adult participants are aware of their responsibilities to safeguard children and vulnerable adults’ (Safe organisation checklist; Southwark Council).

Your organisation should have policies and procedures regarding Safeguarding, particularly if you work closely with children or vulnerable adults.

If you are working directly with vulnerable persons, all individuals within your organisation should be able to recognise the different types of abuse, identify the signs and where to go for help. The most important aspect your organisation should be ensuring is that all staff members keep accurate records.

How can Community Southwark help?

Community Southwark can help by:

  • signposting to appropriate support including DBS check agencies etc.

  • providing Safeguarding Policy and Procedure templates and advice

  • free fact sheets to help you become more informed about safeguarding (see below)

  • help you to sign up to My Learning Source so you can access free safeguarding training

The named person in Community Southwark who can support you with the above is Deborah Hayman, Head of Support Services. You can contact via email or phone 020 7358 7021

Community Southwark Useful Resources

Community Southwark Resources - Staff & Volunteers - for further information about DBS and other related issues

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) - a brief overview of DBS checks with further resources

DBS True or False -  some frequently asked questions and answers.

Model Child Protection policy -  for use by voluntary organisations

Model Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy - for use by voluntary organisations

External Resources

Key Contacts