Safeguarding children policy

Doorstep Library is committed to the safeguarding of all who come in contact with the charity, certain legal requirements also apply:

  • protecting the rights of adults to live in safety, free from abuse and neglect
  • protecting children from maltreatment; preventing impairment of children’s health or development; ensuring that children grow up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care, and taking action to enable all children to have the best outcomes

Everybody has the right to be safe no matter who they are or what their circumstances (regardless of age, gender, religion or ethnicity). Abuse and neglect can have devastating effects on individuals, families and wider society.

As part of our commitment to safeguarding, Doorstep Library has the following policies in place:

  • Complaints procedure
  • Confidentiality
  • Data Protection
  • Equality and Diversity
  • Health and Safety
  • Volunteering

Our aims are to:

  • protect people from harm
  • make sure people can raise safeguarding concerns
  • handle allegations or incidents if and when they arise

Safeguarding Children

Doorstep Library Network works in partnership with families and is committed to a practice which protects children (anyone who has not yet reached their 18th birthday) and vulnerable adults from harm.  It seeks to create an environment where everybody, employees, volunteers, family members or supporters, feels free to be themselves in an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect.

This trust, however, must never be allowed to compromise the overriding priority to protect the safety and welfare of children.  All trustees, employees, volunteers and those involved in activities run by Doorstep Library Network must accept and recognise their responsibilities to develop an awareness of issues which cause children or young people harm.

This policy states our commitment to keeping children safe and outlines the process for putting the policy into practice.  A copy must be available to all at each DL base and at the office.  All responsible for the implementation of this policy must have access to a copy at all times.  The policy is sent by email to all new volunteers after completing the training program. A copy of the policy available to all employees and trustees is filed in the policy folder in the Doorstep Library cloud server.

Principles on which Doorstep Library Network policy for safeguarding children is based

Safeguarding children means to:

  • protect children from abuse and maltreatment
  • prevent harm to children’s health or development
  • ensure children grow up with the provision of safe and effective care
  • take action to enable all children and young people to have the best outcomes

Everyone has a duty to ensure that children are safeguarded and must observe the following principles:

  • the welfare of the child is always the most important consideration
  • active steps are taken to promote the wellbeing of children and to protect them from harmful experiences and influences
  • the duty to protect children applies, without any exceptions, to all those involved in activities run by Doorstep Library Network: employees, trustees, volunteers and casual helpers
  • discrimination, prejudice or bullying in relation to race, culture, age, gender, disability, religion, sexuality or political views is always wholly unacceptable
  • all suspicions and allegation of abuse are taken seriously and responded to swiftly and appropriately
  • everyone has a duty to report any concerns about children’s safety

Legal Framework

This policy has been drawn up on the basis of law and guidance that seeks to protect children, namely:

  • Children Act 1989
  • United Convention of the Rights of the Child 1991
  • The General Data Protection Regulation 2016/679 Sexual Offences Act 2003
  • Children Act 2004
  • Protection of Freedoms Act 2012
  • Relevant government guidance on safeguarding children.

Putting the policy into practice

A hard copy of the current policy must be available at all time to all at each Doorstep Library base and in the office.

There are 3 designated persons within Doorstep Library Network with clearly defined responsibilities for safeguarding children: the Safeguarding Children Officer, the Director and the Chair of Trustees (phone numbers listed at the end of this document).

Responsibilities of the Safeguarding Children Officer include:

  • following carefully the procedures for recruitment and selection of staff and volunteers
  • arranging for all employees, volunteers, trustees and others who have contact with families and children to have training on safeguarding children and the implementation of this policy
  • providing effective management of staff and volunteers through supervision, support and training
  • including this policy on the agenda for discussion at trustee meetings and other appropriate meetings
  • ensuring that clear written guidance on what to do when a child safeguarding incident or concern arises is available to everyone involved in Doorstep Library Network
  • sharing information about child safeguarding and good practice with staff and volunteers

Ensuring that the policy and procedures for safeguarding children are effective

Doorstep Library Network will monitor the effectiveness of the steps it is taking to keep children safe by:

  • recording all incidents, allegations of abuse and complaints
  • reporting any serious incidents immediately to the Chair of the Board of Trustees. The Chair of the Board of Trustees will then decide, with the Director and Safeguarding Children Officer, on the appropriate action to be taken, acting within the guidelines of the Local Borough Safeguarding Children Policies and within the statutes of the law at that present time
  • reporting to the trustees of all new incidents or complaints is scheduled at every trustees meeting, as is follow up
  • reviewing the policy and procedures annually, or sooner if there are legislative changes or changes in practice to be considered
  • ensuring that it has up-to-date information about government guidance on safeguarding children and that its policies and practice comply with all recommendations on good practice

Guidance on safeguarding children

The purpose of this guidance is to set out clear requirements and procedures so that everyone understands what we mean by child abuse, how they can protect children from harm, and what they must do if they have concerns about the welfare of any child.

How children may be harmed or abused

 

  • Somebody may abuse or neglect a child on purpose or by not acting to prevent harm
  • Abuse can be intentional or unintentional
  • Children may be vulnerable to abuse in any setting – at home, in the community or online
  • Abuse may be by someone the child knows – such as a family member or another adult – by another child, or more rarely, by a stranger
  • Anyone can be a potential abuser whatever their age, status, gender, social class, race or culture

What we mean by child abuse

 

  • Physical abuse includes hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating, or anything else which causes physical harm to a child. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer invents symptoms or deliberately causes ill health to a child.
  • Sexual abuse involves forcing or encouraging a child to take part in sexual activities, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. This may involve physical contact, including penetrative (for example, rape or buggery) or non-penetrative acts.  It may also include non-contact activities, such as involving children in pornography or watching sexual activities or encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways.
  • Emotional abuse is when a child’s emotional development is damaged by continued emotional ill-treatment by making them feel that they are worthless, inadequate or unloved. It may include imposing expectations on them that are inappropriate for their age or development.  It may involve frightening children, exploiting and corrupting them or making them feel that they are in danger.  Some level of emotional abuse is involved in any ill-treatment of a child.
  • Neglect is when a child’s health or development is seriously damaged by a persistent failure to meet their basic physical and/or emotional needs. It may involve not providing adequate food, shelter and clothing, not protecting a child from physical harm or danger, or failing to make sure that they get any medical care that they need.
  • Child sexual exploitation (CSE) and female genital mutilation (FGM) are child abuse, and attempts to draw children into violent extremism should also be treated as a safeguarding issue.
  • Some groups of children are particularly vulnerable, including disabled children.

Children who abuse other children

Sometimes another child may abuse a child.  It can be very difficult to tell the difference between normal childhood behaviour and sexual abuse.  If there is any possibility that one child could have forced or taken advantage of the other, then normal procedures should be followed for reporting to the Safeguarding Children Officer.

Preventing harm to children

The following processes are in place in order to minimise any risks to children’s safety and welfare:

  • All those involved with the Doorstep Library, whether as employees or volunteers, who will have the opportunity for contact with children have a Disclosure and Barring Service Enhanced Disclosure check (DBS). Good character references are obtained
  • Volunteers respect the Doorstep Library rules of conduct at all time (Golden rules). These rules are available at each project
  • Parents are responsible for their children at all times during Doorstep Library visits and are never to leave the children alone in the home with the volunteers. We will not visit if they or a designated responsible adult are not home.
  • Volunteers must not visit families on their own but with a designated partner
  • Volunteers must not visit families outside of the Doorstep Library session or directly contact any member of a family without the Team Leader’s permission
  • Volunteers are to ensure that where a parent/ guardian is not present in the same room during a Doorstep Library visit, that the parent/ guardian is aware that the visit is taking place and that all doors are left open so that the parent/ guardian can hear should an issue arise
  • Staff and volunteers should not engage in sexually provocative or rough physical games including horseplay. Where possible, without causing offence, physical contact should be avoided

Responding to concerns about a child’s safety or welfare

All employees, volunteers, trustees who may have contact with families will be trained to recognise situations which put children at risk and will have a clear understanding of the steps that should be taken to ensure their safety.

Any concerns about discovered or suspected abuse must be reported at the earliest opportunity by volunteers to their Team Leader who informs the Safeguarding Children Officer at the earliest opportunity, or to the Director or Chair of Trustees if the Safeguarding Children Officer is not available.

Depending on where you are and who is available, it is the responsibility of the Doorstep Library Safeguarding Children Officer to decide whether a concern reported to them is a child safeguarding issue. Any child safeguarding issue should be referred to the Chair of the Board of Trustees.

Becoming aware of possible child abuse

There are several ways that someone may become aware that a child is suffering abuse:

  • A child may confide in someone that they are being abused (this is called disclosure).
  • An adult may know or suspect, that a child is being abused through their regular contact with the child or the family.
  • An adult or child may accuse a person involved in activities run by Doorstep Library Network of abusing a child.
  • An adult or child may confide that they know, or suspect, that a child is suffering abuse.
  • Contact a responsible person
  • Inform your Team Leader (unless you judge that for reasons of safety or confidentiality it is not appropriate)
  • They will then talk to the Safeguarding Children Officer as soon as they become aware that a child may be at risk of being harmed or abused.
  • If it is not possible to talk to your Team Leader for any reason, then talk to the Safeguarding Children Officer, Director and if unavailable to the Chair of the Board of Trustees.
  • If a child is in immediate danger or seriously hurt, call 999

Reporting concerns

  • Any report or discussion should focus on the reason for concern, how much immediate danger the child is in and the next steps to be taken.
  • The person who receives this report should also make a written note of the reasons for concern.
  • When discussing concerns anyone may ask to remain anonymous, but Doorstep Library Network cannot promise not to pass on any information if it suggests that others may be at risk of being harmed.

Process for taking action

Anyone who has concerns about a child’s safety should take the following steps:

  • Record what has happened (using the Logging Form which will be made immediately available by the Team Leader or the Safeguarding Officer to whom the incident has been reported to (Form must be available at each Doorstep Library base)
  • Write down what was said as soon as possible after talking to the child or anyone else. Include:
  • Name of child or young person
  • Age
  • Address
  • Name/s of parent/s or person/s with parental responsibility
  • Whether the person making the report is expressing their own concerns or passing on those of somebody else
  • What has prompted the concerns
  • Has the child or young person been spoken to; if so, what was said (using the actual words)
  • Has somebody been alleged to be the abuser; if so, record details
  • Who has this been passed on to and how, in order that appropriate action is taken e.g. the school, social services
  • Has anyone else been consulted; if so, record detail

All forms are to be kept as a hard copy in a special file chronologically by date of entry and numbered in a safely locked cupboard in the office of the Programme Manager. An electronic copy of each form is to be kept on the Doorstep Library network, as password protected documents that the Director, Programme Manager and the Chair of the Board of trustees have access to.

Logging Forms must be dated and signed by the person who reports the concerns.

Responding to children

Children may hide abuse or be reluctant to tell someone about it.  They may feel ashamed, afraid of the consequences or think that the abuse is their fault.  They may have been threatened by the abuser not to tell anyone about it or feel that they have to protect another person (including, sometimes, the abuser).

Doorstep Library Network recognises that some children are more vulnerable to abuse – for instance, disabled children – and will ensure that workers and volunteers are especially aware of their needs.

Anyone who is confided in by a child must:

  • take the child seriously
  • be sensitive and listen carefully to what the child says
  • reassure the child that he/she is doing the right thing
  • explain clearly what they will do next, in a way that is suitable for the child’s age and understanding

If a child confides in an adult, the adult must not:

  • make promises he/she cannot keep, such as telling the child that what they say will be kept secret
  • act surprised or angry
  • ask leading questions or put words into the child’s mouth
  • force the child to explain the whole situation or pressure them for details
  • draw conclusions or make accusations

If information about possible abuse has to be passed on to social services or the police, children will be told as much as possible about what is happening, by the Safeguarding Officer if appropriate or directly by social services, and will be given any possible opportunities to discuss and influence the process.

Legal responsibilities

Doorstep Library Network will work within the policy and procedures of the appropriate authority’s Local Safeguarding Children’s Board.

If there are concerns relating to suspicions, allegations or incidents of abuse, or any circumstances at all where it seems that a child may be being harmed or at risk of harm, Doorstep Library Network will take immediate steps to comply with the requirements of the local authority, which has a legal responsibility for the investigation of child safeguarding issues.

Doorstep Library Network will co-operate with these authorities to enable them to carry out their legal duties in relation to child safeguarding.

Training

The designated Safeguarding Children Officer will undertake appropriate training and will ensure that she/he and all designated for safeguarding children receives a refresher training every two years.

  • All employees and volunteers will:
  • be informed about the official Home Office definition of Safeguarding and Promoting the Welfare of Children
  • be fully informed about Doorstep Library Network policy for safeguarding children and the procedures for implementing it.
  • take part in further training on any child protection issues that are identified as relevant to their role within the organisation
  • volunteers will undertake refresher training every three years

USEFUL NUMBERS

If you are concerned about the immediate safety of a child, call the police on 999

Designated Safeguarding Children Officer

Emily Oliver, Programme Manager

Tel: 0208 870 1476/ 07769 320338 or 07944 007262

Email: emily@doorsteplibrary.org.uk

Director of Doorstep Library

Katie Bareham, Director

Tel: 020 8870 1476/ 07557 790925 or 07836 250134

Email: katie@doorsteplibrary.org.uk

Chair of Trustees, Annabel James

Tel: 07957 370161

Email: annabel@doorsteplibrary.org.uk

Local Social Services Child Protection teams:

Hammersmith & Fulham – familyservices@lbhf.gov.uk or tel: 020 8753 6600

Westminster – accesstochildrensservices@westminster.gov.uk or tel: 020 7641 4000

Lambeth – helpandprotection@lambeth.gov.uk or tel: 020 7926 5555

NSPCC Help Line – https://www.nspcc.org.uk/what-you-can-do/report-abuse/ or tel: 0800 800 500