A guide for small organisations (and private music teachers) 

Oh no, safeguarding doesn’t apply to us … well it does. If you work for the council or in a school or hospital you will know all about it. However it may feel like a step too far to have to consider safeguarding for your community group. This blog aims to help people working in small organisations that work with children or vulnerable adults. You may be addressing safeguarding for the first time or perhaps you are reviewing your procedures. Vulnerable adults is a broad term but can cover e.g. older people suffering dementure or people with mental health issues. I’d personally say that many of us have suffered mental health issues at some point and this training is useful in understanding how and why people might come to a small organisation such as yours. If you are reducing isolation in communities, for instance, being sensitive to mental health issues is a must. Plus a good knowledge of safeguarding will strengthen your funding applications.

Many community groups overlook safeguarding. It can seem expensive and complicated. You might feel that nothing has happened before, or is likely to happen again. But you only need one incident of inappropriate behaviour – a lift given to a young person when their parents are late turning up or a relationship developing between an older person and a younger person, and your whole community may suddenly feel unsafe and uncertain. In the worst case, the police may be involved. Do you shut your whole organisation down and stick to safe pursuits such as watching the TV, or do you take action to protect your wonderful community? There are four basic boxes to tick off if you are running a small organisation, a CIC, a community group, a charity or similar.  The guidance is based on the Intercollegiate Guidance on Safeguarding issued by the Royal College of Nursing. 

Let’s start with the policy 

If you have your safeguarding policy in place you will know exactly what to do if an incident occurs. So will everyone else in the organisation because they will know that safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility. You can point out the relevant part of the policy that gives dos and don’ts for members of your group, nothing personal, just good practice. Or you can call the relevant number and report a concern. Someone will then provide support. You can design your own policy but it’s easier to adapt a template in conversation with your management group. Here are some examples. For children, the NSPCC provides all the resources you would ever need and you can download a template here: NSCPP policy template 

For adults (this is one for sports but can be adapted)  https://drive.google.com/file/d/10e5-FGwWEEOl_G9RhxBjJ898ne4q65Gy/view?usp=sharing The important thing to know is, you aren’t alone. There are organisations who will help. But many such situations will be avoided by having considered safeguarding in the first place, perhaps at a committee meeting. In a small organisation we are exposed, both legally and physically, to individuals who may wish others harm or, more commonly, to those who simply behave inappropriately and who could bring our organisation and its members into disrepute. These can be difficult conversations to have. You really don’t want things to get personal. We are not detectives or social workers, well not in our private lives anyhow. So having good policies protect us and those around us.

The guidance around safeguarding is aimed mainly at public sector organisations. However, the following guidance from the NSPCC applies to all organisations and individuals and similar applies for protecting vulnerable adults: 

“The key guidance for child protection is Working together to safeguard children (Department for Education, 2018). This states: 

● everyone who works with children has a responsibility for keeping them safe ● everyone who comes into contact with children and families has a role to play in sharing information and identifying concerns.” 

The guidance can feel alarming and indeed the risks are huge. 

The second step therefore is training: 

Training gives you working practices and confidence. Most of the courses offered, particularly at levels 1 and 2, more about the levels later, are online courses. They are available for free in some places or from around £25 at others. The problem with these basic courses is that they offer no interaction with other participants or trainers. This means that they don’t offer any chances to explore your own personal feelings, fears or past experiences. This is important for the following reason – many of us will have been subject to some form of abuse in our lives,: (Extract from Penny Rogers level 3 training slides, reproduced with permission of the author) “Around one in five adults aged 16 to 59 (an estimated 6.2 million people) had experienced some form of abuse as a child, according to the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) for the year ending March 2016” 

This is an issue which affects 20% of our population personally so why does most of the training ignore this statistic? Safeguarding training may well trigger uncomfortable thoughts in the trainees and this is why Drum and Brass provide interactive courses. If you experience triggering thoughts, the trainer will be able to offer signposting and support. This can be life-changing. 

So what do the levels mean? Drum and Brass offer training at levels 1-4. Not all training is labelled in this way. So here’s a quick guide: 

Levels 1+2 are usually taught together over at least a 3 hour period. Anyone coming into contact with young people or vulnerable adults in an organisational setting should take this training. 

Level 3 equals 5+ hours of training. You are strongly recommended to have this level if you are working 121 with a young person or vulnerable adult. Private music teachers need this level of training. It also qualifies you to act as a named safeguarding officer or contact. That’s the first point of contact in an organisation, should any concerns arise. 

Level 4 is for professionals who want to explore cases in depth. We offer bespoke Level 4 training. 

The Safeguarding Officer

If you are a private music teacher, this is you. In an organisation, this is the person to whom any concern is reported. You will be trained to level 3 which gives you all the skills and knowledge to be able to report the concern on to the relevant body (the police in urgent cases). You should also be in charge of the incident reports, and keeping these safely locked away (GDPR). Make sure everyone knows who you are and has your contact details. This info should be on the wall if you have your own premises. 

And finally – the DBS. 

This is the go-to for most organisations. It’s low cost for volunteers – usually just an admin charge. Organisations such as BBE provide these free for their members. It’s around £70 for paid staff. The criminal record check that you get after providing passport, driving licence and National Insurance details (or similar) lists your criminal record if you have one. It’s up to the organisation to decide whether it is happy to have you, based on the information provided. I have never heard of an organisation rejecting anyone based on their DBS, but if anyone knows of any cases, do let me know. One note worth mentioning, as soon as you get a certificate in the post, turn it over and find the update information on the back or check online at gov.com. Sign up for annual updates, charged at £13 direct debit each year. This means you can simply share your number with an organisation and they can check your record with that. The DBS CRB is not a perfect system and you cannot apply for one for yourself at the time of writing this. But it’s been accepted as an important piece of evidence. 

So to sum up, I thought it would be really useful to have a quick checklist for small organisations. It’s not hard to get everything in place to be able to work with young people and vulnerable adults with confidence. And as a society, we need your good work. Now more than ever. Hopefully now you won’t fear safeguarding. You will take control, keep your documents up to date and go out and do that important work! 

So here we go, 3 steps to safeguarding: 

1. Safeguarding Policy (organisation – shared with all staff) Evidence: document, shared Point everyone who visits your organisation to it. Display it at your venue, put it on your website. Quote it in your promotional materials! 

2. Safeguarding Training – adults and/or children as appropriate (all staff – 1+2, named safeguarding contact or 121 contact – level 3): Evidence: certificates, up to date 

3. Named Safeguarding Officer – named person in your organisation who will pass on concerns and keep the incident reports (GDPR!) 

4. DBS (all staff) Evidence: certificate number Encourage your staff to keep their certificates handy. As people join, ask for their DBS number, or apply for one. Pop the number in a spreadsheet and keep it locked away (GDPR!)

Julie Hoggarth 9th February 2021 

Encourage your staff to keep their certificates handy. Ask them to share a copy of their certificate with you. 

Stay safe 🙂