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Safeguarding policy

YoungMinds is committed to promoting the safety and wellbeing of young people and their families in all that we do. The policy below outlines how we will safeguard those we work with and those that work on our behalf. 

1. Policy statement

YoungMinds is the UK’s leading charity dedicated to improving the emotional wellbeing and mental health of young people. We are committed to promoting the safety and wellbeing of young people and their families in all that we do. Our safeguarding framework, policy, procedures and guidance outline how we will fulfil our duty of care to safeguard those we work with and those that work on our behalf including staff, volunteers, trustees and partner agencies.

2. Purpose of this policy

Everybody has the right to be safe and to thrive no matter who they are or what their circumstances. The YoungMinds’ approach to safeguarding includes the concept of a ‘culture of care’ which supports and promotes wellbeing, and encourages resilience and the prevention of harm.

We believe that our staff, volunteers and consultants have both an individual and organisational responsibility for safeguarding. We aim to embed a safeguarding ethos and practice which is both proactive and responsive towards issues of safety and wellbeing.

We understand that where abuse and neglect does occur, it can have devastating effects on individuals, families and wider society. Our commitment to safeguarding in its widest sense is therefore vital.

This policy and the accompanying procedures provide clear standards and processes for all our staff, volunteers (including trustees and young people) and partners. This ensures that everyone is clear about their roles, individual and organisational responsibilities, and the procedures to follow in order to protect children and adults at risk from harm.

3. Scope

This policy applies to all employees, volunteers, trustees, independent advisors, contracted associates and unpaid staff working on behalf of YoungMinds in any capacity and any setting. YoungMinds requires that our partners, current or in future, share our commitment to safeguarding.

4. Terminology

For the purposes of YoungMinds’ policy, procedures and guidance, the following terms and definitions apply:

  • Abuse: A form of maltreatment of a child or adult. Somebody may abuse or neglect a child or adult by inflicting harm, or by failing to act to prevent harm.
  • Child: Legally, a child includes babies, children and young people from pre-birth until their eighteenth birthday (at 18, they are legally an adult) in England and Wales. In Scotland, in most situations, a child is someone who is under 18. However, in some contexts, for example child protection orders, a child is defined as a person under 16 years of age.
  • Adult at risk: Any person who is aged 18 years or over and who is at risk of abuse or neglect because of their needs for care and support (Care Act 2014 [England]).
  • Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and adults: Protecting individuals from maltreatment; preventing harm to health or development; ensuring children grow up with the safe and effective care; and taking action to enable individuals to have the best outcomes.
  • Child or adult protection: Refers to the activity that is undertaken to protect specific children or adults who are suffering, or at risk of suffering, significant harm.
  • Significant harm: Is the threshold which justifies compulsory intervention in the best interests of the child or adult. This may refer to a single traumatic event or, more often, the cumulative effect of incidents and/or behaviours over time which significantly impairs an individual’s physical and psychological development.
  • Early identification and help: Statutory guidance stresses the importance of children and adults having the opportunity of early help and support in order to avoid child or adult
    protection intervention at a later time.

5. Our commitment to safeguarding

YoungMinds’ Safeguarding Framework sets out the standards which we are committed to upholding throughout our work. These standards are tested by means of the annually-updated Safeguarding Action Plan.

YoungMinds believes that:

  • The best interests of the child and adult of concern are paramount in all considerations about their welfare and protection.
  • Safeguarding must be embedded throughout our governance, leadership and culture.
  • Young people must be valued, empowered and supported to inform and shape our activities, including decision-making, risk-identification and review of our safeguarding practices.
  • All individuals have an equal right to protection from abuse and neglect, regardless of their age, ability, gender, disability, nationality, racial heritage, faith, sexual orientation, identity or any other additional vulnerability.
  • Our recruitment, induction, training, supervision and appraisal procedures must ensure that staff and volunteers are suitable and supported to implement safeguarding best practice.
  • Our physical and online environment should be safe and secure and promote enjoyable and positive experiences.
  • We must have clear policies and procedures for reporting, acting-upon and following-up safeguarding concerns, which are monitored and regularly reviewed to identify learning and/or implications for policy and practice.
  • It is right to insist upon high standards in safeguarding practice from all of our partners.
  • We must proactively care for our staff and volunteers. Individuals should be encouraged to take personal responsibility for their own wellbeing as well as feeling empowered to seek support when necessary.
  • Learning, sharing and creating networks to champion best practice is beneficial for all children, young people and adults at risk as well as our staff and volunteers
  • Our safeguarding policy and related documents should be publicly available.

5.1 Principles of reporting concerns (the 5 Rs)

  • Recognise concerns that a child or adult is being harmed or might be at risk of harm
  • Respond appropriately to a child or adult who is telling you what is happening to them
  • Refer the concerns, if appropriate, to children’s or adult social care or the police
  • Record the concerns appropriately and any subsequent action taken; ensure there is no delay in
  • passing on concerns. Timescales noted are the maximum allowed and nothing should prevent a more speedy response if this is required
  • Resolution and escalation – take responsibility to ensure that referrals made are followed up and take further action if not satisfied with the response.

6. Roles & responsibilities

Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility. Everyone should understand that safeguarding affects all aspects of the organisation and they must be aware of this policy and the procedures to follow. However, in order to ensure all concerns or allegations are handled appropriately, YoungMinds has a number of designated positions and specific job roles. These are outlined below:

6.1 Trustees

The Charity Commission expects that safeguarding should be a key governance priority for trustees. It is part of their duty of care to ensure YoungMinds:

  • acts in the best interests of the children, young people and adults at risk
  • takes all reasonable steps to prevent any harm to them
  • assesses and manages risk
  • puts safeguarding policies and procedures in place
  • undertakes ongoing monitoring and reviewing to ensure that safeguards are being implemented and are effective
  • responds appropriately to allegations of abuse and whistleblowing cases.

In addition, at least one Designated Trustee for Safeguarding (DTS) is identified who will:

  • Be suitably experienced and trained in safeguarding
  • Meet with the Safeguarding Manager quarterly to maintain an overview of all safeguarding measures across YoungMinds
  • Be informed of and contribute to decisions on high risk cases and maintain oversight of any follow up to help ensure that all risks are appropriately managed
  • In conjunction with the Senior Leadership Team and Safeguarding Manager, ensure that Trustees are fully informed of safeguarding issues across the organisation and contribute to maintaining safe practice across all our operations.

6.2 Designated Safeguarding Officer (DSO)

The Designated Safeguarding Officer (DSO) is the Safeguarding Manager. The DSO is responsible for:

  • Ensuring staff have access to appropriate safeguarding advice and support
  • Checking that safeguarding referrals, incident reports and actions taken are recorded, fully reviewed, and logged in a restricted file
  • Providing oversight and supporting YoungMinds to:
    • enable young people, adults and their families to be aware of YoungMinds’ safeguarding procedures
    • assess that the partner organisations working with YoungMinds have appropriate safeguarding policies and procedures in place
  • Appraise the training needs of LSOs on a regular basis
  • Develop guidance and deliver training to increase the level of understanding and expertise on safeguarding across all teams
  • Ensure that there is a clear and fair system of high-quality supervision for all staff who may benefit from it
  • Chairing the safeguarding panel and convening the panel in the event of a serious incident
  • Reporting quarterly to the People and Governance Committee on how YoungMinds has discharged its safeguarding duties
  • Providing an annual report to the Board of Trustees regarding our safeguarding activity
  • Alerting the CEO of any significant safeguarding concern, contributing to decision-making and ensuring appropriate follow-up to manage and reduce risk
  • Giving feedback to the SMT/SLT about safeguarding trends, concerns and emerging issues
  • Keeping up to date with relevant law, guidance and case examples
  • Proactively engage with other agencies and external experts to ensure that YoungMinds’ approach is informed by and contributes to best practice within the sector. 

6.3 Lead Safeguarding Officers (LSO)

Lead Safeguarding Officers (LSOs) are the main point of contact for staff requiring safeguarding advice or support. LSOs are in place across the organisation to support the awareness and mainstreaming of safeguarding across all operations.

YoungMinds is a unique and varied organisation. Each area of operation manages very specific safeguarding risks. To ensure that our safeguarding measures respond to the specific needs of each team, LSOs will be identified across the organisation to:

  • provide safeguarding advice, support and debriefing to staff
  • ensure all concerns are recorded and logged as necessary
  • highlight immediately any serious concerns to the DSO
  • attend and contribute to the safeguarding panel meetings
  • ensure that external referrals are of high quality and are followed up
  • keeping up to date with safeguarding training
  • act as advocates for safeguarding and increase awareness of safeguarding measures within their
  • specific areas of operation in conjunction with their team/line manager(s).
  • help disseminate guidance, procedures and signpost teams to relevant resources
  • advocate for the needs of their teams to ensure that relevant guidance and support is provided by the Safeguarding Manager
  • contribute to safeguarding self-assessments and action plans

6.4 Safeguarding Panel

The YoungMinds’ Safeguarding Panel comprises the DSO and LSOs. The Safeguarding Panel’s purpose is to provide strategic oversight of YoungMind’s safeguarding activities, ensuring that the policies, procedures and risk management demonstrate best practice. The Panel provides mutual support and meets regularly to share information, learning, best practice and undertake training.

6.5 Line Managers

Line Managers are responsible for:

  • Supporting and encouraging their teams to follow all appropriate safeguarding procedures
  • Providing additional support and advice for a member of staff with any safeguarding concern
  • Taking ownership of concerns raised by volunteers, and raising them with an LSO
  • Abiding by safer recruitment practices
  • Ensuring that all new staff and volunteers are fully inducted/trained to the appropriate level in safeguarding practices.

6.6 Head of HR

The Head of HR is responsible for:

  • Providing advice and guidance on safer recruitment to those recruiting staff or volunteers, including the induction period
  • Supporting the management of allegations process.

6.7 Staff

Staff are responsible for:

  • Ensuring they know and adhere to the safeguarding procedures as outlined in this policy and other related policies and procedures including when working with external partners
  • Completing the safeguarding training required for their role
  • Raising with their LSO immediately, any safeguarding concerns they identify
    Contacting appropriate services immediately, in an emergency situation.

6.8 Volunteers

Volunteers (including young people, interns and those on work experience) are responsible for:

  • Raising any concerns immediately with their supervisor, or the LSO or DSO
  • Completing training appropriate to their role.