Every child or vulnerable adult deserves to be safe and secure in their activities. Their parents or carers (if they have them) need to feel sure that the people in charge of these activities are trustworthy, responsible and will do everything they can to keep the vulnerable adult or child safe from harm. Unfortunately, sometimes people who work or volunteer may pose a risk to children or vulnerable adults and may wish to harm them.
Definition of a Vulnerable Adult is defined in the ‘No Secrets’ government report as a person “who may be in need of community care services by reason of mental or other disability, age or illness; and who is unable to protect him or herself against significant harm or exploitation.”
2. Our Safeguarding Policy
This policy applies to all the volunteers of Hammersmith & Fulham Refugees Welcome (HFRW) group and anyone working with or on behalf of the group.
HFRW believes that a refugee child, young person or vulnerable adult should never experience abuse or exploitation of any kind. All members of our group have a responsibility to promote the welfare of the refugee children, young people and vulnerable adults that we are welcoming and to keep them safe. We are committed to work in a way that protects them.
HFRW believes that:
- All refugee children/young people/vulnerable adults have the right to be protected from harm;
- All refugee children/young people/vulnerable adults need to be safe and to feel safe;
- All refuge children/young people/vulnerable adults need support which matches their individual needs, including those who may have experienced abuse, torture and trauma;
- All refugee children/young people/vulnerable adults have the right to speak freely and voice their values and beliefs;
- All refugee children/young people/vulnerable adults have the right to be supported to meet their emotional and social needs;
- HFRW and the organisations the group works with can and do contribute to the prevention of abuse, victimisation, bullying, exploitation, extremism, discriminatory views and risk taking behaviours;
- All volunteers of HFRW have an important role to play in safeguarding refugee children, young people and vulnerable adults.
HFRW will fulfil their responsibilities as laid out in the following:
- Information sharing: Advice for practitioners providing safeguarding services to children, young people, parents and carers (HM Government 2015)
- Working Together to Safeguard Children (DfE 2013)
- Keeping Children Safe in Education: Statutory guidance for organisations and colleges (DfE April 2014)
- The Children Act 1989
- Children and Families Act 2014
- The Human Rights Act 1998
- Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006
- Data Protection Act 1998
- Sexual Offences Act 2003
HFRW’s Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) will keep up to date with any specific guidance issued by the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS), the Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Scheme (VCRS), Asylum Support & Integration Directorate and will attend any appropriate training.
This policy will contribute to safeguarding the refugee families in the care of HFRW and promoting their welfare by:
- Clarifying standards of all members of the group;
- Contributing to the establishment of a safe, resilient and robust ethos in the group, built on mutual respect, and shared values;
- Implementing robust and deliverable safeguarding and protection policies and procedures;
- Working in partnership with other agencies in our area who have expertise in working with vulnerable people, children and refugees, including the local authority and the police;
- Encouraging all members of the group to participate by:
- Alerting the DSL to any signs and indicators that all might not be well with a member of the resettled refugee families;
- Developing awareness among the group of the causes of abuse;
- Developing awareness of the risks and vulnerabilities participants may face;
- Addressing concerns at the earliest possible stage; and
- Reducing the potential risks that the resettled refugee families might face of being exposed to prejudice, victimization, hate, extremism or exploitation.
This policy will contribute to supporting the resettled refugee families by:
- Identifying the individual needs of children, young people and vulnerable adults within the resettled refugee families.
- Designing plans to meet those needs.
All volunteers with HFRW will be:
- Aware of this safeguarding policy;
- Subject to appropriate background checks where appropriate;
- Alert to signs and indicators of possible abuse (See Appendix One for some idea of indicators);
- Record concerns and give the record to the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL): Sharon Tomlin, email@example.com, 07860 785 950;
- Deal with a disclosure of abuse from a child, young person or vulnerable adult in line with the guidance in Appendix Two you must inform the DSL immediately, and provide a written account as soon as possible.
3. Our Responsibilities for Safeguarding
3.1 Hammersmith & Fulham Refugees Welcome group
The core group of HFRW has overall responsibility for ensuring that the safeguarding policy is implemented.
The core group will ensure that:
- The group has a safeguarding policy that meets the requirements of the UK government’s Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS) and Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Scheme (VCRS), Asylum Support & Integration Directorate;
- The group operates appropriate checks on volunteers with safeguarding responsibilities;
- At least one senior member of the group acts as a DSL;
- The DSL attends the appropriate training session as advised by the UK government’s Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS) and Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Scheme (VCRS), Asylum Support & Integration Directorate;
- Arrangements are put in place in the event of a complaint against the DSL by a refugee family or vice versa;
- All other volunteers are made aware of the organisation’s arrangements for child protection and safeguarding of vulnerable adults;
- HFRW reviews its policies/procedures regularly and remedies any deficiencies or weaknesses brought to its attention without delay.
3.2 Safer Selection
HFRW takes seriously and has policies in place to ensure that its volunteers working with refugee children, young people and vulnerable adults (in particular the DSL) are selected safely. Measures to ensure this include:
- Scrutinising individuals who volunteer for these roles, by verifying identify and qualifications, checking employment or volunteering history and obtaining references. (This includes people acting as interpreters for the group).
- Where necessary, and on guidance from the UK government’s Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS) and Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Scheme (VCRS), Asylum Support & Integration Directorate individuals (in particular the DSL) will be required to undertake appropriate checks through the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).
3.3 The Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL)
The DSL of HFRW is Sharon Tomlin. She has lead responsibility and accountability for safeguarding within the group.
- The DSL will be responsible for liaising on safeguarding matters with the local authority, the local police safer neighbourhood team and making contact with local refugee/faith groups (where appropriate).
- The DSL will undertake regular reviews of vulnerability issues within the resettled refugee families. Written records of these reviews will be kept in secure files.
- If and when there are safeguarding concerns about any member of the resettled refugee families the DSL will decide what steps should be taken and advise the group on escalation steps, such as bringing in expert, outside agencies.
- Safeguarding and child protection information will be dealt with in a confidential manner. The DSL may have to act through an interpreter but in that case the interpreter should be aware of the need for confidentiality.
- Other members of the group will be informed of relevant details only when the DSL feels their having knowledge of a situation will improve their ability to deal with an individual and / or family. A written record will be made of what information has been shared with whom, and when.
- The DSL will have overall responsibility for liaising with outside agencies, including the police and the Home Office, in the unlikely event that a refugee family are in regarded as open to radicalisation.
If or when the DSL steps down from their role within HFRW, there should be a full face to face handover/exchange of information with the new DSL – or suitable alternative arrangements will be made.
3.4 How to Report Suspected Abuse
Where a volunteer suspects a child or vulnerable adult has or is being physical abused, neglected, emotionally or sexual abused the worker will follow the process below:
- Volunteer discusses concerns with the DSL as soon as possible.
- Volunteer writes report of concerns using as much information as possible such as what was said, what was observed, when, where and who else was there, date, time and place of disclosure/concerns and shares it with DSL.
- Volunteer believes the child or vulnerable adult is in immediate danger – call the police on 999. Otherwise go to the following point.
- Volunteer or DSL calls the Children, Young People & Learners Safeguarding out of office hours 020 8753 5880 / or Hammersmith and Fulham advice 020 8753 5880 / 0845 313 3935.
Appendix One: Indicators of Abuse and Trauma
1. Issues Arising from Refugee Experience
Refugees may have undergone many stressful experiences, including imprisonment, torture, loss of property, malnutrition, physical assault, extreme fear, rape, and loss of livelihood, as well as the stress of living in camps or precarious situations, and the stress of being resettled. It is also common for refugees to suffer from many physical and psychological symptoms and disorders, partly because of the stressful experiences they endure.
Assessing the variety of experiences, symptoms, and disorders refugees suffer from is challenging. Furthermore, differences in language and culture can act as a barrier against treatment. When refugees resettle to a host country, it is usually in a place that’s not of their choosing. Refugees must adapt to a new place and language under uncertain circumstances and face uncertain futures. Re-establishing a home and identity, while trying to juggle the tasks of daily life is yet another challenging experience refugees must endure.
Refugees are at a higher risk than the general population for a variety of mental health disorders. Some studies show refuges are at 10 times the risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, chronic pain, and other physical complaints. Exposure to torture is the strongest instigator of PTSD among refugees.
Disillusionment, demoralisation and depression often occur due to migration-associated losses, or later, when initial hopes and expectations of relocating are not realised. Events that evoke memories of past trauma and loss can contribute to the emergence of anxiety, depression, or PTSD.
Though mental health disorders like anxiety, depression, and PTSD are not uncommon, the way in which they sprout and manifest in refugees can be complicated and atypical. Symptoms and signs include (this is not designed to be used as a checklist):
- Inability to sleep and nightmares;
- Social withdrawal/unwillingness to interact;
- Angry or violent outbursts;
- Drug or alcohol abuse.
Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child’s or vulnerable adult’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, such that it is likely to result in the serious impairment of the health or development.
Neglect with a child may occur during pregnancy as a result maternal substance abuse. Once a child is born, neglect may involve a parent or carer failing to:
- Provide adequate food, clothing and shelter (including exclusion from home or abandonment);
- Protect a child from physical and emotional harm or danger;
- Ensure adequate supervision (including the use of inadequate care-givers); or
- Ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment.
It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs. The same indicators can apply to a vulnerable adult.
The following may be indicators of neglect (this is not designed to be used as a checklist):
- Constant hunger;
- Stealing, scavenging and/or hoarding food;
- Frequent tiredness or listlessness;
- Frequently dirty or unkempt;
- Often poorly or inappropriately clad for the weather;
- Poor attendance or often late for organisational activities;
- Poor concentration;
- Affection or attention seeking behaviour;
- Illnesses or injuries that are left untreated;
- Failure to achieve developmental milestones, for example growth, weight;
- Failure to develop intellectually or socially.
3. Physical Abuse
Physical abuse may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating or otherwise causing physical harm. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer fabricates the symptoms of, or deliberately induces illness in a child or the person in their care.
The following may be indicators of physical abuse (this is not designed to be used as a checklist):
- Multiple bruises in clusters, or of uniform shape;
- Bruises that carry an imprint, such as a hand or a belt;
- Bite marks;
- Round burn marks;
- Multiple burn marks and burns on unusual areas of the body such as the back, shoulders or buttocks;
- An injury that is not consistent with the account given;
- Changing or different accounts of how an injury occurred;
- Bald patches;
- Symptoms of drug or alcohol intoxication or poisoning;
- Unaccountable covering of limbs, even in hot weather;
- Fear of going home or parents being contacted;
- Fear of medical help;
- Inexplicable fear of adults or over-compliance;
- Violence or aggression towards others including bullying; or
- Isolation from peers.
4. Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, not necessarily involving a high level of violence, whether or not they are aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including assault by penetration (for example, rape or oral sex) or non-penetrative acts such as masturbation, kissing, rubbing and touching outside of clothing. They may also include non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of, sexual images, watching sexual activities, encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways, or grooming a child in preparation for abuse (including via the internet). Sexual abuse is not solely perpetrated by adult males. Women can also commit act of sexual abuse, as can other children.
The following may be indicators of sexual abuse (this is not designed to be used as a checklist):
- Sexually explicit play or behaviour or age-inappropriate knowledge;
- Anal or vaginal discharge, soreness or scratching;
- Reluctance to go home;
- Inability to concentrate, tiredness;
- Refusal to communicate;
- Thrush, persistent complaints of stomach disorders or pains;
- Eating disorders, for example anorexia nervosa and bulimia;
- Attention seeking behaviour, self-mutilation, substance abuse;
- Aggressive behaviour including sexual harassment or molestation;
- Unusual compliance;
- Regressive behaviour, enuresis, soiling;
- Frequent or open masturbation, touching others inappropriately;
- Depression, withdrawal, isolation from peer group;
- Bruises or scratches in the genital area.
5. Sexual Exploitation
Sexual exploitation occurs when a child or young person, or another person, receives something (for example food, accommodation, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, affection, gifts, money) as a result of them performing sexual activities, or another person performing sexual activities on them.
The presence of any significant indicator for sexual exploitation should trigger a referral to children’s services. The significant indicators are:
- Having a relationship of concern with a controlling adult or young person (this may involve physical and/or emotional abuse and/or gang activity);
- Entering and/or leaving vehicles driven by unknown adults;
- Possessing unexplained amounts of money, expensive clothes or other items;
- Frequenting areas known for risky activities;
- Being groomed or abused via the Internet and mobile technology;
- Having unexplained contact with hotels, taxi companies or fast food outlets.
6. Emotional Abuse
Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional maltreatment of a child or vulnerable adult such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the emotional development or wellbeing. It may involve conveying to person that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person. It may include not giving the vulnerable child or adult the opportunities to express their views, deliberately silencing them or ‘making fun’ of what they say or how they communicate. It may feature age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on the person. These may include interactions that are beyond a child’s developmental capability, as well as overprotection and limitation of exploration and learning, or preventing a person participating in normal social interaction. It may also involve seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another person. It may involve serious bullying (including cyber bullying), causing a child or vulnerable adult to frequently to feel frightened or in danger, or the exploitation or corruption of a vulnerable individual. Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of maltreatment.
The following may be indicators of emotional abuse (this is not designed to be used as a checklist):
- The child or vulnerable adult consistently describes him/herself in very negative ways as stupid, naughty, hopeless, ugly;
- Over-reaction to mistakes;
- Delayed physical, mental or emotional development;
- Sudden speech or sensory disorders;
- Inappropriate emotional responses, fantasies;
- Neurotic behaviour: rocking, banging head, regression, tics and twitches;
- Self-harming, drug or solvent abuse;
- Fear of parents or other family members being contacted;
- Running away;
- Compulsive stealing;
- Appetite disorders – anorexia nervosa, bulimia;
- Soiling, smearing faeces, enuresis.
N.B. Some situations where children stop communication suddenly (known as traumatic mutism can indicate maltreatment.
7. Unusual Responses from Parents
Research and experience indicates that the following responses from parents may suggest a cause for concern across all four categories:
- Delay in seeking treatment that is obviously needed;
- Unawareness or denial of any injury, pain or loss of function (for example, a fractured limb);
- Incompatible explanations offered, several different explanations or the child is said to have acted in a way that is inappropriate to her/his age and development;
- Reluctance to give information or failure to mention other known relevant injuries;
- Frequent presentation of minor injuries;
- A persistently negative attitude towards the child;
- Unrealistic expectations or constant complaints about the child;
- Alcohol misuse or other drug/substance misuse;
- Parents request removal of the child from home; or
- Violence between adults in the household.
8. Individuals with Disabilities
When working with children with disabilities, practitioners need to be aware that additional possible indicators of abuse and/or neglect may also include:
- A bruise in a site that might not be of concern on an ambulant child such as the shin, might be of concern on a non-mobile child;
- Not getting enough help with feeding leading to malnourishment;
- Poor toileting arrangements;
- Lack of stimulation;
- Unjustified and/or excessive use of restraint;
- Rough handling, extreme behaviour modification such as deprivation of medication, food or clothing, disabling wheelchair batteries;
- Unwillingness to try to learn a child’s means of communication;
- Ill-fitting equipment, for example callipers, sleep boards, inappropriate splinting;
- Misappropriation of a child’s finances; or
- Inappropriate invasive procedures.
Appendix Two: Dealing with a Disclosure of Trauma or Abuse
When a refugee tells you about the stress or trauma s/he is feeling or abuse s/he has suffered, you must remember (particularly if you are the DSL):
- Stay calm.
- Do not communicate shock, anger or embarrassment.
- Offer reassurance. Tell her/him you are pleased that s/he is speaking to you.
- Tell her/him that you believe them. S/he may have tried to tell others and not been heard or believed.
- Tell s/he it is not her/his fault.
- Encourage s/he to talk but do not ask “leading questions” or press for information.
- Listen and remember.
- Check that you have understood correctly what s/he is trying to tell you. (You may need to get advise from the interpreter you are using where interpretation is necessary.)
- Communicate that s/he was right to tell you and right to be safe and protected.
- It is inappropriate to make any comments about the alleged offender.
- Be aware that the individual, particularly a child, may retract what s/he has told you. It is essential to record all you have heard.
- At the end of the conversation, tell the individual again who you are going to tell and why that person or those people need to know.
- As soon as you can afterwards, make a detailed record of the conversation using the phrases s/he used as far as possible. Include any questions you may have asked. Do not add any opinions or interpretations.
Even if you think the issue is minor, the DSL or others in the group may have more information that, together with what you know, represents a more serious worry. It is never your decision alone how to respond to concerns – but it is always your responsibility to share concerns, no matter how small.
- Decide whether you need to find out more by asking the child / young person, or their parent to clarify your concerns, being careful to use open questions:
- beginning with words like: “how”, “why”, “where”, “when”, “who”?
- Let the child / young person / parent know what you plan to do next if you have heard a disclosure of abuse or you are talking with them about your concerns. Do not promise to keep what s/he tells you secret.
- for example, “I am worried about your bruise and I need to tell person X so that s/he can help us think about how to keep you safe”
- Inform the DSL immediately. If the DSL is not available or you are the DSL, speak to a senior person in the group. If there is no other member of staff available, you must make the referral yourself.
- Make a written record as soon as possible after the event, noting: -Name of person -Date, time and place -Who else was present -What was said / What happened / What you noticed i.e. speech, behaviour, mood, drawings, games or appearance -If child, vulnerable person or parent spoke, record their words rather than your interpretation -Analysis of what you observed & why it is a cause for concern.
The DSL makes the referral to the First Response Service – such as the local authority or police. The referral will note all previous intervention by the group with the child or vulnerable adult, any relevant history relating to the them, their siblings or the family.
The DSL shares information with relevant professionals, recording reasons for sharing information and ensuring that they are aware of what action the other professionals will take as a result of information shared.
(If a child is involved) The DSL informs parent that they have made a CP referral, if the parent does not already know, and if there is no reason not to let them know the First Response Service may suggest to delay informing the parent in cases of suspected sexual abuse, or where informing the parent might put the child at further risk, to prevent the child being harmed or intimidated (and retracting their disclosure) or in cases of suspected Fabricated or Induced Illness by proxy, the parent is not informed that this is being considered.
The DSL remains in close communication with professionals around the child / young person/vulnerable adult and with the family, in order to share any updates about the child / young person/vulnerable adult.
Appendix Three: Allegations about a Volunteer
Inappropriate behaviour by volunteers could take the following forms:
- Physical; For example, the intentional use of force as a punishment, slapping, use of objects to hit with, throwing objects or rough physical handling.
- Emotional; For example, intimidation, belittling, scapegoating, sarcasm, lack of respect for children’s rights, and attitudes that discriminate on the grounds of race, gender, disability or sexuality.
- Sexual; For example, sexualised behaviour towards pupils, sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape.
- Neglect; For example, failing to act to protect a child or vulnerable adult, failing to seek medical attention or failure to carry out an appropriate risk assessment.
- If a person makes an allegation about a volunteer, a chair or other person of the core group should be informed immediately. The core group should carry out an urgent initial consideration in order to establish whether there is substance to the allegation. The core group should not carry out the investigation itself or interview the accuser/s.
- The core group must exercise, and be accountable for, their judgement on the action to be taken, as follows:
- If the actions of the volunteer and the consequences of the actions, raise credible child protection or other safeguarding concerns the core group will notify the Local Authority Team. The local authority will advise about action to be taken;
- If the actions of the volunteer and the consequences of the actions, do not raise credible child protection concerns, but do raise other issues in relation to the conduct of the volunteer these should be addressed through the group͛s own internal processes;
- If the core group decides that the allegation is without foundation and no further formal action is necessary, all those involved should be informed of this conclusion, and the reasons for the decision should be recorded.