Child Protection Policy

Introduction

Volunteers Network CIC aims to ensure the safety and protection of all children involved in the project’s services and activities through adherence to this Child Protection Policy.
Children or young people wishing to attend activities run in our community space must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Children without a parent or guardian are not permitted to participate and parents or guardians must be present at all times. Only children attending work experience with us may do so unaccompanied.
This policy applies to all users of Volunteers Network CIC premises, consultants and volunteers and is also available on request to service users, their families and carers.
Some groups using Volunteers Network CIC will have their own Child Protection Policy, however we recognise that other groups will not have a policy and we therefore expect those groups to read and accept this policy.
This policy is available at all of our premises and online.

Aims

This policy is intended to protect children and young people who attend activities organised by Volunteers Network CIC, events held on premises leased or owned Volunteers Network CIC (run by third parties) and children over the age of 14 who engage with our project through work experience.
Volunteers Network CIC aim to promote good practice in providing children and young people with appropriate safety and protection whilst they attend and participate in services or activities run by the project. The policy provides a framework within which other users of our premises and volunteers can make informed and confident responses to specific child protection issues.
Volunteers Network CIC takes care to ensure that a safe environment has been provided for all involved in its activities. Volunteers Network CIC has a Health and Safety Policy and undertakes risk assessments for all activities and events held by our organisation. Other organisations that use our premises must undertake their own risk assessments.

RECOGNITION OF ABUSE OR NEGLECT
Abuse or neglect of a child is caused by inflicting harm or by failing to act to prevent harm. Children may be abused in a family or in an institutional or community setting: by those known to them or by a stranger. 

Physical Abuse
Physical abuse may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating, or otherwise causing physical harm to a child. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer feigns the symptoms of, or deliberately causes ill health to a child whom they are looking after. This situation is commonly described using terms such as, Fabricated and Induced Illness (FII) fabricated illness by proxy or Munchausen Syndrome by proxy. 

Emotional Abuse
Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional ill treatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development. It may involve conveying to children that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only in so far as they meet the needs of another person. It may feature age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children. It may involve causing children frequently to feel frightened or in danger, or the exploitation or corruption of children. Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of ill treatment of a child though it may occur alone.

Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including penetrative or non-penetrative acts. They may include non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of, pornographic material, or watching sexual activities, or encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways. 

Neglect
Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development. It may involve a parent or carer failing to provide adequate food, shelter and clothing, failing to protect a child from physical harm or danger, or the failure to ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment. It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs. 

Procedures

Immediate Action to Ensure Safety

Immediate action may be necessary at any stage in involvement with children and families.
IN ALL CASES IT IS VITAL TO TAKE WHATEVER ACTION IS NEEDED TO SAFEGUARD THE CHILDREN
i.e:
If emergency medical attention is required this can be secured by calling an ambulance (dial 999) or taking a child to the nearest Accident and Emergency Department.
If a child is in immediate danger the police should be contacted (dial 999) as they alone have the power to remove a child immediately if protection is necessary, via Police Protection Order.

Responding to allegations or suspicions
It is not the responsibility of anyone working for Volunteers Network CIC, in a paid or unpaid capacity, to decide whether or not child abuse has taken place. However, there is a responsibility to act on any concerns by reporting these to the appropriate officer or the appropriate authorities.

Staff and volunteers should abide by the following guidelines:

DO:
• Do treat any allegations extremely seriously and act at all times towards the child as if you believe what they are saying.
• Do tell the child they are right to tell you.
• Do reassure them that they are not to blame.
• Do be honest about your own position, who you have to tell and why.
• Do tell the child what you are doing and when, and keep them up to date with what is happening.
• Do take further action – you may be the only person in a position to prevent future abuse – tell your nominated person immediately.
• Do write down everything said and what was done. 

DON’T:
• Don’t make promises you can’t keep. 
• Don’t interrogate the child – it is not your job to carry out an investigation – this will be up to the police and social services, who have experience in this.
• Don’t cast doubt on what the child has told you, don’t interrupt or change the subject.
• Don’t say anything that makes the child feel responsible for the abuse.
• Don’t do nothing – make sure you tell your nominated Safeguarding Children person immediately – they will know how to follow this up and where to go for further advice.

• Any suspicion that a child has been abused by a staff member or volunteer should be reported to the Project Coordinator, who will take such steps as considered necessary to ensure the safety of the child in question and any other child who may be at risk. 
• The Project Coordinator will refer the allegation to the social services department who may involve the police.
• The parents or carers of the child will be contacted as soon as possible following advice from the social services department if it is safe to do so.
• If the Project Coordinator is the subject of the suspicion/allegation, the report must be made to a Director.

Allegations of previous abuse

Allegations of abuse may be made some time after the event (e.g. by an adult who was abused as a child or a volunteer who is still currently working with children). Where such an allegation is made, the procedures as detailed above should be followed and the matter should be reported to social services or the police. This is because other children may be at risk from this person.

Information for social services or the police about suspected abuse

To ensure that this information is as helpful as possible, a detailed record should always be made at the time of the disclosure/concern, which should include the following:
• The child’s name, age and date of birth of the child.
• The child’s home address and telephone number. 
• Whether or not the person making the report is expressing their own concerns or those of someone else.
• The nature of the allegation. Include dates, times, any special factors and other relevant information.
• Make a clear distinction between what is fact, opinion or hearsay.
• A description of any visible bruising or other injuries. Also, any indirect signs, such as behavioral changes.
• Details of witnesses to the incidents. 
• The child’s account, if it can be given, of what has happened and how any bruising or other injuries occurred.
• Have the parents been contacted? 
• If so what has been said? 
• Has anyone else been consulted? If so, record details.
• If the child was not the person who reported the incident? Has the child been spoken to? If so, what was said?
• Has anyone been alleged to be the abuser? Record details.
• Where possible, referral to the police or social services should be confirmed in writing within 24 hours and the name of the contact who took the referral should be recorded.
• If you are worried about sharing concerns about abuse with a senior colleague, you can contact social services or the police direct, or the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000, or Childline on 0800 1111.

Whistle Blowing Procedure (Procedures to deal with in house allegations against staff/volunteers)

All Volunteers Network CIC staff and volunteers must be aware of the need to maintain professional boundaries in their relationships with children and their carers. Smacking children and other forms of physical punishment are not permitted and should be referred as possible child abuse. 
It is important to make a distinction between a complaint and an allegation of abuse. When a complaint by, or on behalf of a child implies an allegation of ill treatment then this should be treated in the first instance as a child protection matter, the complaint procedure would then be applied following the conclusion of child protection enquiries, if the complaint remains outstanding.
Where allegations of abuse are made against a consultant or volunteer, the matter should always be referred to social services, in the same way as any other concern about possible abuse. It is the responsibility of the social services in consultation with the police to decide whether the allegation necessitates a child protection enquiry, and/or a police investigation into a possible offence.

Concerns about poor practice

If, following consideration, the allegation is clearly about poor practice; the Project Coordinator will investigate and take appropriate measures to resolve the issue following our Letting Go of Volunteers Policy.

Confidentiality

Every effort should be made to ensure that confidentiality is maintained for all concerned. Information should be handled and disseminated on a need to know basis only. This includes the following people:
• the Project Coordinator
• the parents of the person who is alleged to have been abused – if it is safe to do so
• the person making the allegation 
• social services/police 
Any written information regarding Safeguarding Children issues concerning individuals needs to be kept in a safe locked place to ensure confidentiality as per our Data Protection Policy, however the safety of the child is paramount.

DBS Checks 

All volunteers working directly and alone with children and young people need to have undertaken an enhanced DBS check. Hub Assistants are not to be alone with children and young people as we do not ask our assistants to undergo DBS checks.

Implementation and Quality Assurance

Implementation is immediate and this Policy shall stay in force until any alterations are formally agreed by Directors. This Policy will be reviewed annually by the Directors, sooner if legislation, best practice or other circumstances indicate this is necessary.

All aspects of this Policy shall be open to review at any time. If you have any comments or suggestions on the content of this policy please contact Helen Burton, Director on 01323 381811 or eastbournevolunteers@gmail.com

Latest version updated 05/04/18