The Honest Toun’s Association (‘The Association’) recognises the need to protect members of vulnerable groups from physical, sexual and emotional harm whilst they are attending any events organised by, or under the auspices of, the Association. The Association takes all reasonable steps to ensure that, through relevant procedures and training for the event organisers, people can take part in these events in a safe environment.
This policy details the steps to be followed by members who either receive a disclosure of abuse or neglect or have cause for concern regarding a child or adult at risk of harm or abuse.
Members should follow this policy, which includes a point of contact within the organisation for such concerns - Vulnerable Groups Protection Officer. It will be the responsibility of the Vulnerable Groups Protection Officer, to collate available information and pass this without delay to police, health or social work children & families department, who are the professional Core Agencies responsible for the assessment and management of such referrals.
The Association will ensure that all members of the Executive Committee and other associated committees are aware of this policy and have received appropriate support to ensure its full implementation.
Where a member is dissatisfied with the response of the organisation, they have a clear responsibility to contact one of the Core Agencies directly and convey their concerns.
The Association aims to ensure that all children and vulnerable adults are protected and kept safe from harm while they are attending any events organised by the Association. The Association is committed to developing and implementing policies and procedures which ensure that everyone knows and accepts their responsibility in relation to a duty of care for children and vulnerable groups. The Association recognises that it is not the responsibility of those individuals working within the association to determine if abuse has taken place, but it is their responsibility to act upon and report any concerns, in accordance with this policy.
If any person within the Association has a doubt as to the relevance of this policy to their role and duties, then please contact the Vulnerable Groups Protection Officer for the Association for further information.
The Honest Toun's Association and those involved with it will abide by the following principles and statements:
- All people attending events organised by the Association regardless of age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, ability or disability, have the right to be protected.
- All people participating in these events have a right to do so in a safe environment.
- Adults volunteering for the Association will provide a safe, positive and fun experience for all people.
- All volunteers in the Association will understand and be supported in their roles and responsibilities with regard to the Duty of Care for those in vulnerable groups.
- All suspicions and allegations will be taken seriously, managed and dealt with swiftly and appropriately, in accordance with the guidelines for reporting in the Association’s Vulnerable Groups Protection Policy.
- It is not the responsibility of the designated professionals from the Core Agencies to determine whether or not abuse has taken place. However, it is the responsibility of all those working within the Association to report any concerns.
- The Association will assist all members to remain up-to-date with the latest issues surrounding the protection of vulnerable groups, which may include provision of training.
- The Association will appoint an Officer for the Protection of Vulnerable Groups, whose role is to be responsible for issues concerning protection of the members of these groups at events run by the Association.
- The Association will carry out regular risk assessments to ensure the safety of those participating in events organised by the Association.
- Children, young people and members of vulnerable groups have the right to express views on all matters which affect them, should they wish to do so.
- The Association will promote and implement appropriate procedures to safeguard the wellbeing of vulnerable groups and protect them from abuse.
- All potential members of the Executive Committee will complete an application form
- All members of the Executive Committee will be required to undertake level one training covering the protection of vulnerable groups
- Any successful members and elected officials of associated committees, including the Official Party will be given a copy of the Vulnerable Groups Protection Policy and will be expected to refer to it when necessary
- Any successful member maybe required to complete a Disclosure Record prior to joining any committee
- It is an offence for an individual who is barred from working with vulnerable groups to volunteer to undertake the type of activities from which they are barred
- It is an offence for an organisation to allow someone to act as a volunteer who is barred or fail to remove a person from volunteering if they have been notified that they are barred from working with vulnerable groups
- It is an offence for an organisation not to refer an individual to Disclosure Scotland where the grounds have been met.
Procedure When Abuse is Witnessed or Suspected
If a member of the Association witnesses or suspects abuse or receives a report of abuse the guidelines below should be followed:
- Stay calm; try not to appear shocked or anxious
- Make factual notes; keep these notes up to date, keep them safe, record the young person’s own words.
- Offer support, understanding and reassurance; explain that this cannot be kept secret
- Do not investigate but ask open questions to get the basic information, for example: what, when where, who (do not ask ‘why’ – this could convey feelings of responsibility / guilt to the child)
- Contact the Protection of Vulnerable Groups Officer, who will give you support and advice. They are the first point of contact within the Association. If the Officer is involved in the report of abuse then the Honorary President should be the first point of contact.
The Association understands that in addition to making a referral (a written report) to Disclosure Scotland, protection issues concerning volunteers, children and young people must always be referred to the Core Agencies for appropriate investigation.
Emergency Social Work Services (ESWS) handle urgent social work situations that occur in East Lothian out with office hours or at weekends.
It is available to anyone experiencing an urgent social work situation when the main office is closed. Referrals can be made through an agency or by phoning ESWS directly.
Calls will be handled by experienced ESWS staff who will prioritise cases to be dealt with as an emergency. Their main priorities are to provide risk assessments for child protection, access to a mental health officer and urgent community care assessments. Non-emergencies will be referred to a daytime service.
If necessary in an emergency, the service can visit a member of the public at their home, in hospital or in another relevant location.
ESWS also acts as an initial contact point for social work response to major incidents and will work with other agencies as appropriate. They work jointly with City of Edinburgh and Midlothian Councils to provide this service.
Social Work Emergency Number
Freephone 0800 731 6969
0131 665 9696
East Lothian Contact Centre
01875 824 309 (office hours)
Vulnerable groups –adults at risk of harm or abuse and children.
Core Agencies – Social Work Children & Families Department, Police, Health
Vulnerable Groups Protection Officer – first point of contact within the Association for reporting concerns or for further information.
Vulnerable Groups Protection Officer: Stefanie Talac (07890 616 379)