AKOU has a designated safeguarding lead (DSL) whose contact details are in section 11.
We recognise that it can be difficult for many reasons to speak up if you think someone is being abused or neglected. However, we expect our volunteers, and staff to take action in response to any concerns. Our safeguarding lead will support the person raising the concerns, as well as the person being abused.
If anyone in the organisation notices any signs of abuse or neglect in another person, they should bring these concerns to the safeguarding lead.
If someone discloses to anyone else in the organisation that they are being abused, the response should be as follows:
- Always make sure the person speaking up feels they are being listened to and supported
- Don’t promise to keep information confidential between you and them
- Tell the designated safeguarding lead about the concerns (unless the safeguarding lead is implicated in causing the harm or perpetrating the abuse. In this situation, information should be shared with a trusted board member and they will be responsible for taking further action instead of the safeguarding lead)
- Ask for the person’s consent to share the information. If they refuse and you are still worried that they or someone else is at immediate risk of harm, you cannot wait for this consent. You must share this information with the safeguarding lead
- Write a clear statement of what you have been told, have seen, or heard. This is in addition to filing the formal log for safeguarding concerns
The designated safeguarding lead is responsible for taking further action once concerns have been raised with them. Throughout the process, the safeguarding lead will record all the information they are given, the actions they take, and why. The procedures they will follow are:
6.1 Initial assessment
As soon as information is shared with the safeguarding lead, they will make an initial assessment of the concern. They will, if possible, talk to the person reporting the concern and gather as much information as possible from them.
Key information to gather:
- What type of concern has been reported? Different actions are required depending on what type of concern it is (see below);
- What action has already been taken?
- Is anyone else in the organisation affected by this situation (e.g. other staff or those you work with)? Are there any attitudes or emotions that you may have to be aware of?
- How might this concern affect what the organisation delivers in the short term?
- Who else might need to be informed?
- What other actions now need to be taken?
- Clarifications on the safeguarding concern/statement and on any of the above mentioned questions
6.2 Immediate actions depending on what type of concern has been raised
(a) Emergency incidents: this is when there’s a life-threatening situation where there’s imminent danger and harm to an adult, young person or child.
- Immediately contact the emergency services if they haven’t been called already
- Make sure the current situation is safe
- Establish how others are coping – do they need any immediate support?
- Inform the senior people in the group
(b) Protection concerns: this is when an adult who you believe is unable to protect themselves is at current risk of, or has experienced, abuse or harm.
- If the person is in immediate danger, call the police
- If they’re not in immediate danger, you must contact the local authority safeguarding team within 24 hours and make a referral (contact details are in section 10)
- Be guided by the safeguarding team or police on any further actions required of you
(c) Allegations concerning staff or volunteers: this is when someone has alleged that staff or volunteers from your organisation have harmed or abused someone else.
- Contact the local authority safeguarding team as soon as possible within 24 hours
- Be guided by them on any further actions required of you
(d) Welfare concerns: this is when no one has been harmed in any way, but a person shows signs of being in need. It’s when you have concerns for their health, wellbeing or safety if they don’t get help.
- Within 7 days you, or someone in your organisation, should speak with the person. When it is appropriate you should also speak with their family or carer. You must explain your concerns and make sure they have the support they need
- Depending on the conversation, the safeguarding lead may then also:
- Help the person or their family access services or give them the information they need to do this themselves
- Speak to another professional who is already working with the person or family, such as a social worker, about their needs
(e) Concerns about other organisations: this is a situation where the safeguarding concern is about another organisation, their staff, volunteers or the people they work with.
- As soon as possible within 24 hours contact the designated safeguarding lead of the organisation in question and pass on your concerns, if this has not already happened
- In some circumstances you may decide to follow up with the organisation to confirm they have acted on the issue
- If at any point you think the organisation has not acted and someone is at risk, you should contact the local safeguarding team yourself
(f) Responding to historic or non-recent concerns: you may become aware or be told about a concern from an adult relating to an incident which took place in the past, including when they were a child. Historical allegations of abuse should be taken as seriously as contemporary allegations.
- Remember that it’s never too late to report abuse. An individual can make a formal complaint to the police about non-recent abuse, ideally in the geographic area in which the abuse is reported to have taken place
- Establish if the person alleged to have caused the harm works with children or adults at risk. Try to find out their recent or current whereabouts and any contact they have with children or adults at risk. A referral should be made to social services, with the consent of the person who experienced the abuse if possible
- Consider what consent the person has given for information to be shared. How, when and to whom they share this information should usually be with their consent
- Signpost the person who experienced the abuse to relevant support groups that can help them
(g) Supporting those who share a concern with you: your primary concern should be the best interests of the person who is at risk of harm. However, the person sharing this concern with you may also be distressed by the situation, even if they are reporting on behalf of someone else. Everyone can respond to worries about another differently. If someone has previously experienced trauma they can find it especially upsetting.
- Thank them for bringing this concern to your attention and that they have fulfilled their key responsibility
- Explain that you will now take responsibility in leading management of this concern and any contact with statutory agencies
- Highlight that there may be limited updates that you have or can give them on the situation; that does not mean that it was not important for them to share their concern
- Remind them of the importance of confidentiality and not sharing this information further
- Ensure they have your contact details in case they think of anything else they have not yet shared that they think may be relevant
- Discuss with them what additional support they may require. Consider contacting them later to check in on how they are doing