In November 2018, Inside Government brought together almost 600 policymakers, practitioners, researchers and lawyers to addressing the challenge of safeguarding the welfare of anyone and everyone who is involved in or with the voluntary sector. Just a few months previous to this, in July 2018, the International Development Committee had published a report on sexual exploitation and abuse in the aid sector, revealing the depth of this widespread problem, happening across a wide range of countries, affecting a variety of stakeholders. Outlining a number of recommendations on how to improve the situation, the report was welcomed by the Charity Commission.
Strengthening Safeguarding Capacity
In December 2017, the Charity Commission had issued an alert reminding charities of the importance of safeguarding, with the Safeguarding Strategy clearly marking this as a key governance priority for all charities. This message was reiterated at the November 2018 Forum by Kate Waring, Head of Monitoring and Enforcement at the Commission, and she discussed how to put people first, and also the role of trustees.
Kate also highlighted findings from the October 2018 Safeguarding Taskforce - primarily that significant underreporting is taking place. To remedy this, £2million was announced to invest in awareness-raising projects and improve incident handling. Best practice examples of how to conduct such tasks were shared at the November 2018 Forum by expert practitioners, including Girlguiding’s Isabelle King and Paul Ringer of Spurgeons Children’s Charity.
An International Focus
In March 2019, Inside Government once again convened a range of stakeholders from across the voluntary sector to discuss progress being made around safeguarding, this time with a slightly greater focus on efforts towards safeguarding internationally.
The Charity Commission shared some updates, including the increase in reported incidents, reaching 2,765 between February 2018 and January 2019. Picking up on the influence of the July 2018 report in encouraging more discussion around safeguarding, Stephen Twigg MP, Chair of the Committee, spoke about how all stakeholders must take responsibility, and what the Committee is doing to ensure progress is made.
As we approach the next sector meeting that Inside Government are facilitating on this topic, taking place this time in Manchester on Thursday 20th June 2019, a recent report from Bond has suggested that the relationship between government and international development charities is in decline.
The Charity Commission, DfID and the International Development Select Committee will again be at the June Forum, with an opportunity to address such concerns, as well as offer further updates on new evidence due to be gathered next month.
In addition, a range of best practice case studies will share successful strategies for improving safeguarding practices when working both in the UK and overseas. Isabelle King will return, this time in her capacity as Chair of the National Safeguarding Youth Forum, alongside Tom Burke, and new faces including representatives from Salford CVS and the Diocese of Manchester. Councillor Bev Craig will also give an introduction to the day, contextualising the approach to safeguarding among voluntary and community sector organisations across the North.
Join colleagues on June 20th to discuss ways of safeguarding staff, volunteers, and all those who come into contact with voluntary sector organisations, including strategies for creating an organisational culture that truly prioritises safeguarding.
This article was written by Lauren Powell.