Young Fabians Safeguarding Policy
The Young Fabians Safeguarding Policy outlines the behaviour expected of volunteers, members and elected representatives of the Young Fabians who engage with children and adults at risk through the Young Fabians and its activities. The underpinning principles of the policy are that:
- the welfare of children and adults at risk is paramount;
- It is the responsibility of all staff, volunteers, members and elected representatives to behave with integrity, maturity and good judgement.
- Child (as defined by the Children Act 1989): In England, Northern Ireland and Wales a child is someone under the age of 18. Whether living with their family, in state care or living independently. This generally applies in Scotland but in some cases, for example for parts of the Scottish Child Protection Process, it will be 16.
Adult at risk: An adult who:
- Has needs for care and support (whether or not the authority is meeting any of those needs),
- Is experiencing, or is at risk of, abuse or neglect, and
- As a result of their needs is unable to protect himself or herself against abuse or neglect or the risk of it.
It is important to understand that being an adult at risk is not a permanent status, and that an adult can be put at risk or cease to be at risk as their circumstances change.
- Abuse: Maltreatment of a child or adult at risk. Somebody may abuse or neglect a child or adult at risk by inflicting harm or by failing to act to prevent harm. Abuse may be perpetrated by an adult towards an adult at risk, an adult towards a child, a child towards another child or a child towards an adult at risk.
- Safeguarding and promoting welfare: Protecting children and adults at risk from maltreatment, preventing harm to their development, ensuring they grow up or live with the provision of safe and effective care and taking action to enable them to have the best outcomes.
- Harm (as defined by the Adoption and Children Act 2002): The ill-treatment or impairment of the physical or mental health or development of an individual, including impairment suffered from seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another.
- Safeguarding concern: When there is information that a child, young person or adult at risk has been harmed, or is at risk of being harmed, by their own or someone else’s behaviour.
Safeguarding Allegation: Where a person who is a member, volunteer or elected representative of the Young Fabians has:
- Behaved in a way that has harmed a child or an adult at risk, may have harmed a child or an adult at risk, or behaved in a way that might lead to a child or an adult at risk being harmed;
- Possibly committed or is planning to commit a criminal offence against a child or an adult at risk or related to a child or an adult at risk, or;
- Behaved towards a child or an adult at risk in a way that indicates they are or would be, unsuitable to work with children or adults at risk.
- Behaved towards an adult in a way that may put them in risk.
Volunteer: Any person engaged in an activity related to the Young Fabians which involves spending time, unpaid (except for travel and other approved out-of-pocket expenses), doing something which aims to benefit the Young Fabians. This term includes:
- Any member of the Young Fabians Executive Committee;
- Any member of the Steering Committee of a Young Fabians Policy Network, Advocacy Group, or National or Regional Group;
- Any member of the Young Fabians who is involved in running or organising a YF event, or who is contributing to a YF policy project.
- Any Young Fabian member who has been elected to public office and is engaged in volunteering as defined above.
III. Duty to uphold the Safeguarding Policy
- It is the responsibility of all members, volunteers and elected representatives of the Young Fabians to ensure that their behaviour meets the standards of this code of conduct at all times.
- Any breaches of the policy must be reported to a specific Safeguarding Lead designated by the Executive Committee of the Young Fabians within a reasonable amount of time (nominally 72 hours, although swifter action may be required to prevent harm). If the breach involves the Safeguarding Lead, it can also be reported to either the Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary or Treasurer of the Young Fabians.
- Any safeguarding allegation reported in this manner must be reported to the General Secretary of the Fabian Society, and/or a specific Safeguarding Lead designated by the Fabian Society within a reasonable amount of time (nominally 72 hours, although swifter action may be required to prevent harm). If the breach involves the Safeguarding Lead and/or the General Secretary, the allegation should be reported to the next most senior member of Fabian Society staff.
- Where an allegation has been made against an officer from the Executive Committee, Policy Networks, Advocacy Groups, or National or Regional Groups, the Executive has a duty to implement appropriate mitigating measures against that individual (as set out in VII. Special Measures).
IV. Abuse of a Position of Trust
Members and volunteers, including elected representatives and senior officials, should be aware that they may be seen as role models by children, young people and adults at risk and therefore they must act in an appropriate manner at all times. Elected representatives and others in positions of authority must take particular care that their status and power is not used, or may seem to be used, inappropriately to influence children or adults at risk or to cause them harm.
When engaging with children and adults at risk on behalf of the Young Fabians, volunteers and elected representatives are considered to be acting in a position of trust. A relationship of trust can be described as one in which one party is in a position of power or influence over the other by virtue of their work or the nature of their activity. It is important that volunteers and elected representatives understand the subtle and sometimes unintentional ways in which power and influence can manifest in political organisation, and act to understand the consequences of any relationships that arise. It is vital for any person in a position of trust to understand the power this can give them over those they work or
volunteer with or represent and the responsibility they must exercise as a consequence of this relationship.
Children aged sixteen or seventeen years old can legally consent to sexual activity but they may still be relatively immature emotionally. It is essential that volunteers and elected representatives who are in a position of trust recognise this vulnerability and make sure it is not exploited. Volunteers and elected representatives must not engage in sexual activity or allow a sexual relationship to develop with any member under the age of eighteen years old. Any behaviour which might allow a sexual relationship to develop between the person in a position of trust and a child or young person must be avoided.
Where a person aged eighteen or over is in a specified position of trust with a young person under eighteen, it is an offence, in certain circumstances, for that person to engage in sexual activity with or in the presence of that young person, or to cause or incite that young person to engage in or watch sexual activity even if the young person appears to consent.
When working with children and adults at risk through any Young Fabian activities, projects or events, it is essential that members, volunteers and elected representatives:
- Uphold this policy, and any safeguarding procedures, at all times.;
- Treat children and adults at risk fairly, without prejudice or discrimination and avoid favouritism;
- Ensure that allegations or disclosures about abuse by an adult or child are taken seriously and reported, including peer-on-peer abuse by children or young people;
- Follow any procedures for preventing or reporting safeguarding concerns or allegations which have been set out by the Fabian Society
- Challenge unacceptable behaviour and report all allegations and suspicions of abuse regardless of the status of the adult(s) involved, including their political office, or organisation(s) that may be implicated in so doing;
- Respect a child or an adult at risk’s right to personal privacy but never agree to keep any information relating to the harm of a child or an adult at risk confidential. A child or adult at risk should be informed if you intend to raise a safeguarding concern relating to them, and any identifying information should be restricted to only to those necessary to process the complaint;
- Ensure that all contact, interactions and communications (face-to-face and online) with children and adults at risk are appropriate and relevant to the work of the Young Fabians;
- Use language which is appropriate and is not bullying, offensive, intimidating or discriminatory on the grounds of: age; disability; gender reassignment, gender identity; race; religion or belief; sex, sexual orientation; marriage and civil partnership; or due to a person’s pregnancy;
- Maintain appropriate conduct and avoid threatening or potentially violent behaviour that may lead to children or adults at risk feeling anxious or frightened by behaviour during meetings or events;
- Value and take the contributions of children and adults at risk seriously, actively involving them in planning activities wherever possible;
- Plan activities so that they involve more than one other person being present, or at least within sight and hearing of others. There may be occasions where this is not possible so in such circumstances the activity should be conducted in a room with an open door and/or in sight of other adults.
- Plan activities so that they are held in suitable venues and locations for children and adults at risk and ensure that appropriate travel arrangements and health and safety measures are in place;
- Ensure that the focus of any relationship with a child or an adult at risk that they have met through the Young Fabians remains professional at all times;
- Foster a culture where children, young people and adults at risk feel comfortable to raise any concerns they may have about inappropriate attitudes or behaviour towards children or adults at risk;
- Carefully consider any physical contact with a child or an adult at risk. Ensure that physical contact is appropriate and not unnecessary or unjustified. They should be aware that physical contact with a child or an adult at risk may be misinterpreted, no matter how well-intentioned;
- Staff, volunteers, members and elected representatives should:
- consider the way in which they offer comfort and reassurance to a distressed child or adult at risk and do it in an appropriate way;
- never touch a child or adult at risk in a way which may be considered indecent;
- record and report situations which may give rise to concern from either party;
- not assume that all children or adults at risk seek physical comfort if they are distressed;
- ensure that if any kind of physical support is required during any activities, it is provided only when necessary in relation to the activity and that this is done in a way that other colleagues can observe them and in a way that the child or adult at risk is comfortable;
- follow the recommended adult-to-young people ratios for meetings and activities;
It is essential that volunteers, members and elected representatives do not :
- Conduct a sexual relationship with a child or have any form of sexual contact with a child involved in Young Fabian activity. Any such behaviour between an adult volunteer or elected representative, and a child involved in Young Fabian activity represents a serious breach of trust on the part of the volunteer or elected representative;
- Physically, emotionally or sexually abuse, maltreat or exploit any child or an adult at risk or neglect their basic physical and psychological needs;
- Exaggerate or trivialise child abuse or the abuse of adults at risk;
- Investigate safeguarding concerns, their responsibility is to report concerns;
- Undertake activity which lessens the effectiveness of this policy or display attitudes or behaviours which are not conducive to protecting and promoting the welfare of children and adults at risk;
- Make sarcastic, insensitive, derogatory or sexually suggestive comments or gestures to, or in front of, children or discuss adult sexual relationships in front of them;
- Rely on their reputation or that of the Young Fabians or any elected office that they hold to protect them;
- Give or receive gifts and/or substances such as drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, e-cigarettes to or from a child;
- Encourage or appear to encourage children to drink alcohol or take drugs;
- Allow their judgment to be impaired by alcohol or any other substance when acting in a position of trust;
- Arrange any overnight event involving children or young people, unless advised otherwise by the Executive Committee of the Fabian Society;
- Use any type of physical punishment in order to discipline children or adults at risk. Shouting should be avoided whenever possible and used only if alternative forms of discipline have failed and it is necessary to prevent immediate harm;
- Photograph or film children without first obtaining written consent from their legal guardian;
- Take advantage of the vulnerability of an adult at risk to achieve financial gain for themselves or the Young Fabians
- Receive high-value gifts from children or adults at risk.
Where it does not appear possible to uphold this policy an activity, project or event should be advertised as for only being suitable for over 18s, and should feature content warnings if necessary. Further, dependant on the subject matter, the organisers should consider postponing or cancelling the event to consider how it could be made to comply with the policy;
VI. Principles for Conduct Online
While communication via telecoms, social media and email form a key part of how the Young Fabians encourages policy debate, there is a wide range of ways to communicate with children and adults and this is a rapidly changing environment as new technologies, applications and social media sites merge. No code of conduct for e-safety can cover all of these areas separately. However, when engaging with children or adults at risk for Young Fabian purposes, members, volunteers and elected representatives are expected to adhere to the following principles for online conduct.
- When communicating online observe the same rules of behaviour as if speaking with them in person. Be professional, polite and respectful;
- Do not swear or say anything (using the written word, images or icons) that could be regarded as sexual innuendo, bullying, intimidation or discrimination;
- Ask whether the content of the message could be misunderstood or misinterpreted by someone else;
- Always ensure the content of any online communication has a clear ‘work’ purpose;
- Don’t use any ‘text speak’ abbreviations, symbols or emoticons even if you ordinarily use these in your personal life;
- Never disclose non-public and confidential information about the Young Fabians, its members, volunteers, elected representatives or the children or adults with whom we are working;
- Contact with young members online must be a recognised element of your voluntary role and done strictly for Young Fabian purposes only;
- Do not send any illegal or inappropriate content (written, images or icons) including ‘sexting’ via mobile phones or sharing of abusive images of children.
Openness and scrutiny:
- Always communicate with children and adults at risk in a way that is open to others to see if necessary;
- Do not use private messaging facilities on social networks or apps. If communication needs to be private then do this by email exchange or phone and note the conversation afterwards;
- Ensure there is always a record of these conversations that would be open to others to check if necessary;
- It should always be clear who a communication is from when the Young Fabians is communicating with a child or an adult at risk;
- Never use anonymous apps (where the sender can remain anonymous);
- Only use social media and apps where there is a permanent record of what’s been said and sent thereby being open to scrutiny e.g. the use of Snapchat is inappropriate.
- Avoid the use of personal email or social media accounts.
The use of text messaging to communicate with individual children increases the vulnerability of both the child and the member or volunteer. There may be circumstances in which it is justified, subject to appropriate safeguarding considerations. In these circumstances:
- Members and volunteers should only send individual text messages to a child in response to a specific question or immediate request; members and volunteers should not engage in general conversation with children via text message;
- All messages should be stored and backed up regularly on a computer - phone messages should not be edited or deleted;
- Children’s mobile phone numbers should be kept secure via passcode locks on phones and computers. The mobile phone numbers should not be shared with anyone else unless consent has been given;
- The content should relate solely to Young Fabians activity;
- All bulk text messages sent to children and young people should also be sent through approved channels and recorded for external moderation if required.
VII. Special Measures
As discussed previously, the designated safeguarding lead for the Fabian Society is the only authority capable of making a judgement on a safeguarding allegation against a member. However, in order to mitigate the risk of creating any further safeguarding concerns while an investigation is ongoing, the Exec is obliged to apply the following special measures to any individual facing investigation:
Suspension of a member’s position within the Young Fabians, for allegations of:
- Directly causing harm to any member, or participant in a Young Fabians’ event
- Failure to take reasonable action to prevent harm to a child or adult at risk.
Supervision of all future Young Fabian activity, by a designated member of the exec for:
- Any other alleged breach of the policy.
- For a fixed probationary period following the conclusion of an investigation (at the discretion of the Exec).