Two girls wearing black jackets are talking while standing against a wall decorated with blue, purple and green graffiti patterns.

Safeguarding policy

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 all those who into contact with YoungMinds. Our safeguarding standards, 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.

Click the relevant sections below to read about the purpose and scope of this policy as well as our commitment to and responsibility for safeguarding.

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.

Everybody has the right to be safe and to thrive no matter who they are or what their circumstances. The YoungMinds’ approach to safeguarding embraces 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, neglect and harm 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 everyone who works for and comes in contact with YoungMinds.

YoungMinds is committed to safeguarding practice which is anti-racist, equitable, and inclusive. Good safeguarding must promote social justice and celebrate diversity. Together with the AJEDI Manager, the Safeguarding Team strive to uphold safeguarding standards which accurately reflect and actively elevate AJEDI values.

YoungMinds’ Safeguarding Standards set out the specifications which we are committed to upholding throughout our work. These standards are tested by means of the annually-updated Safeguarding Action Plan as well as internal and external safeguarding audits.

YoungMinds believes that:

  • The best interests of the child or adult are paramount in all considerations about their welfare and protection.
  • Safeguarding must be embedded throughout our governance, leadership and culture with specific consideration given to AJEDI principles.
  • 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. YoungMinds must be responsive to issues raised by our young people in relation to cultural differences and how these can shape our safeguarding & AJEDI work.
  • All individuals have an equal right to protection from harm and this is best achieved by safeguarding practice that is actively anti-oppressive, anti-discriminatory and anti-racist. We recognise that differences in young persons' lived experiences can make them more vulnerable to harm, or more reluctant to talk about it.
  • 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 environments 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 be authentically themselves and take personal responsibility for their own wellbeing as well as feeling able 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.

Principles of best practice (the 6 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.
  • Report/refer the concerns according to YoungMinds’ safeguarding procedures (to an LSO, the Safeguarding Team, Social Care, NSPCC or emergency services).
  • 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.
  • Resolve – take responsibility to ensure that reports and referrals made are followed up in a timely way and take further action if not satisfied with the response.
  • Reflect on your learnings from the safeguarding process and on how to support the wellbeing of yourself and others involved.

Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility. YoungMinds staff, volunteers and Trustees’ 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:


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 Senior Safeguarding Manager monthly 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 Team, ensure that Trustees are fully informed of safeguarding issues across the organisation and contribute to maintaining safe practice across all our operations

Senior Leadership Team (SLT) Safeguarding Lead

An experienced member of the SLT is appointed the SLT Safeguarding Lead, who is responsible for:

  • ensuring that safeguarding is considered in strategic decision-making
  • providing line management support, coaching and debriefing to the Safeguarding Team
  • ensuring that the board of trustees is provided with reports on safeguarding activity as agreed
  • commissioning an external audit of safeguarding practice every 3 years, and planning and monitor resulting actions alongside the Safeguarding Team
  • leading complex investigations relating to safeguarding where there is significant risk of reputational damage to the organisation

The Safeguarding Team

The Safeguarding Team comprises the Senior Safeguarding Manager (Designated Safeguarding Officer/DSO) and the Safeguarding Officer.
The team 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
  • ensuring that external referrals are of high quality and are followed up
  • 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
  • appraising the training needs of all teams and LSOs on a regular basis
  • developing guidance and deliver training to increase the level of understanding and expertise on safeguarding across all teams, including induction, refresher and safer recruitment training
  • ensuring that there is a clear and fair system of high-quality supervision for all staff who may benefit from it
  • managing safeguarding allegations against staff or volunteers, delegating actions to the Head of People & Culture as appropriate
  • supporting recruiting managers to identify the appropriate level of DBS check for vacancies
  • planning and undertaking regular internal and external audits of safeguarding practice, and support staff to respond to recommendations
  • working with teams to respond to recommendations from regular external safeguarding audits
  • 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 Heads of Teams/SLT/DTS about safeguarding trends, concerns and emerging issues
  • keeping up to date with relevant law, guidance and case examples
  • proactively engaging with other agencies and external experts to ensure that YoungMinds’ approach is informed by and contributes to best practice within the sector

Lead Safeguarding Officers (LSOs)

YoungMinds is a unique and varied organisation. Each area of operation carries very specific safeguarding risks. LSOs represent teams which respond to and manage the highest frequency and complexity of safeguarding concerns.

LSOs support the Safeguarding Team to ensure that strategic safeguarding issues are managed effectively and that proactive measures to prevent harm are in place across all areas of operation. They:

  • provide safeguarding advice, support and debriefing to staff and volunteers
  • undertake out of hours on-call responsibilities
  • ensure all concerns are recorded and logged as necessary
  • highlight immediately any serious concerns to the DSO
  • ensure that external referrals are of high quality and are followed up
  • keep 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 Team
  • contribute to safeguarding audits

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 or the Safeguarding Team
  • abiding by safer recruitment practices
  • ensuring that all new staff and volunteers are fully inducted/trained to the appropriate level in safeguarding practices, including annual safeguarding refresher training

Head of People & Culture

The Head of People & Culture is responsible for:

  • ensuring that all members of recruitment panels have received appropriate Safer Recruitment training
  • providing advice and guidance on safer recruitment to those recruiting staff or volunteers
  • ensuring up to date DBS checks are in place at the appropriate level in line with the YoungMinds DBS policy
  • ensuring references are taken up in accordance with the YoungMinds safer recruitment policy
  • carrying out actions as delegated by the Senior Safeguarding Manager throughout the management of allegations process


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 an LSO or the Safeguarding Team immediately, any safeguarding concerns they identify
  • contacting appropriate services immediately in an emergency


Volunteers (including trustees and members of the Youth Panel) are responsible for:

  • raising any concerns immediately with their supervisor, an LSO or the Safeguarding Team
  • completing training appropriate to their role

More of our policies