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Use this page to start to understand different types of harm and abuse, and how people may be affected. It is the first step towards being able to manage safeguarding risks.
You should discuss the types of abuse and harm that people within and connected to your organisation might experience. This will help you decide which policies and procedures you need to work on most urgently.
Anyone can be at risk of abuse. People are at risk at different times and in different situations.
All organisations and individuals have a responsibility to safeguard children. A child is anyone under the age of 18.
If you work regularly with young people, you may find guidance on the National Youth Agency's safeguarding and risk management hub.
Any adult may experience abuse or harm. However, certain people are considered to be at greater risk so are given more protection by law.
An adult at risk is anyone aged 18 or over who:
Adults at risk may:
Whether an adult is at risk or not is something which changes with their circumstances – it’s not fixed.
Protecting your staff and volunteers is not necessarily safeguarding – but you do have a duty to keep them safe. This means paying attention to the particular types of harm that can develop within an organisation.
Safeguarding matters in everything you do digitally, from the impact of something you write online to how you store data. You need to consider safeguarding when you design and deliver digital services whether on your own platforms (such as your website or any apps) and when using other platforms (such as social media sites). You also need to consider how people who use your digital technology are kept safe from exposure to harm and do not use your technology to harm others.
You need to be aware of several types of harm.
Everyone has the right to make decisions for themselves. When you’re safeguarding adults, you must understand this right. Otherwise you can accidentally cause a different kind of harm by removing a person’s freedom of choice.
Last reviewed: 18 June 2021Help us improve this content
Resources and guides to help your organisation do safeguarding well
Understand the basics of safeguarding and why it's important
Find out what safeguarding means for your organisation
What the Charity Commission expects you to do, and the main areas of activity to focus on
Find out more about your legal and regulatory responsibilities in safeguarding
Get advice on the safeguarding challenges of working outside the UK
Get regular updates on NCVO's help, support and services