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Planning for safeguarding in your organisation

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Responsibilities of a volunteer manager

As a volunteer manager you should take a safeguarding approach to all aspects of volunteering. This will help your organisation keep people safe from harm and create a culture where everyone connected understands their right to be safe.

The more care you take in managing your volunteers, the more your work with them can play a key role in building a safer culture in your organisation. This will help you to build a safer space where people feel able to speak up about concerns and trust that action will be taken.

You need to build a clear message that safeguarding is a way of working every day, making sure your staff and volunteers understand why it is important to keep everyone safe.

The way you deliver safeguarding will change depending on who you work with and the level of risk involved, but all organisations must take safeguarding seriously. The larger your organisation or the more you engage with those with particular risk of harm, the more comprehensive your approach to safeguarding should be.

You need to consider harm that could be caused:

  • by volunteers to others – including staff, intended beneficiaries and others in contact with your organisation
  • by others in (or in contact with) your organisation to your volunteers
  • by people outside of the organisation that is brought to the attention of volunteers through their work.

You also need to consider the potential that volunteers may have unmet needs for care and support which if unresolved could place them at risk of harm or affect their wellbeing. They may also be experiencing harm outside of your organisation but share this to you within your contact.

Your safeguarding policy

Your organisation needs to have the right safeguarding policy in place when working with volunteers. As a volunteer manager you should check that your safeguarding policy and procedures:

  • use language that include volunteers as being both at risk of harm and potentially harmful to others
  • make it clear that safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility and that this will be proportionate to their role
  • make it clear to volunteers what their safeguarding responsibilities are and how they raise concerns or report issues or concerns
  • explain to volunteers that they have a right to be safe from harm in your organisation, including from staff, other volunteers and from your organisation's beneficiaries
  • explain to volunteers that they should always speak up and that the spirit of any whistleblowing policy is to protect them when they speak up even though they don't have the same legal rights as employees.

You also need to make sure that your safeguarding policies and procedures:

  • are publicised widely in ways that are easy for volunteers to use
  • are understood and volunteers are comfortable and confident to use them.

If your organisation needs to write a safeguarding policy or carry out a full review so it’s inclusive of volunteers, you may need detailed guidance.

Your approach to volunteering

You need to make the place of volunteers in your organisation clear throughout its strategies, policies and procedures. One way to do this is to have a volunteer strategy, another is to make sure your approach to volunteers is embedded into other organisational plans.

However you achieve this, your plans should cover safeguarding from a range of angles.

You should:

  • have a framework for including volunteers which covers safeguarding issues relevant to your work – such as ratios of volunteers to people they are supporting or lone working
  • have suitably skilled and experienced people with appropriate understanding of safeguarding responsible for volunteers and volunteering
  • have a process for making sure volunteers understand your organisation’s culture including its commitment to safeguarding
  • set out how you work out the risks and responsibilities of different roles including safeguarding responsibilities
  • make clear what insurance you have in place
  • make sure you include elements of safer recruitment that fits the roles on offer when you find and select new volunteers
  • set out how you plan to keep volunteers safe from all types of harm
  • set out how you plan to review the impact of volunteering in keeping people safe and use any lessons for improvement.

For more information on finding the right insurance see the insurance section of our guide for director of operations.

Other policies

Your safeguarding policy and procedures sit alongside other policies which are equally important to making sure you run a safer organisation.

As a volunteer manager, you need to make sure that:

  • all policies have been written in a way so that volunteers recognise that their role and responsibilities are different to staff or other people the organisation works with
  • all volunteers know how to access and use the full policies
  • all volunteers have read and understood or have been trained on the policies that are relevant to their roles
  • all volunteers have access to supervision, support and reminders that help them put the policies into practice
  • your policies do not contradict each other.

For details on essential safeguarding policies and procedures and suggestions of where to find more information on other policies, see our policies and procedures page in steps to a safer organisation.

External agreements

When you’re working in partnership with other organisations, you must make sure you set out a clear understanding of how you’ll work on safeguarding together.

Read our guide to working with partners for more information.

Last reviewed: 06 December 2018

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This page was last reviewed for accuracy on 06 December 2018

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