IWA Policy for Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection

Introduction

(1) The Inland Waterways Association is committed to creating a safe environment in which young people and vulnerable adults can feel comfortable and secure whilst engaged in any of the Association’s activities such as the Wild Over Waterways educational programme, waterway clean-ups or carrying out administrative duties.

(2) The Inland Waterways Association works to engage a wide waterways audience, including children and vulnerable adults, and is committed to equal opportunities. Whilst the Association is experienced in carrying out a wide range of activities we do not undertake to provide specialist care and support for children or adults who have special needs or who are unable to care for themselves independently. This is because IWA does not currently have the infrastructure in place to adequately supervise young people or vulnerable adults to the appropriate levels.  IWA volunteers should not assume sole responsibility for a young person or a vulnerable adult at any time. At an event or activity organised by the Association, the guardian, carer or support worker is responsible for the supervision and care of their child or vulnerable adult.

(3) A vulnerable adult should not be automatically prevented from joining an IWA activity if they arrive without a carer, guardian or support worker. Leaders are advised to try and find an activity an arrangements that are suitable to the individual without incurring sole responsibility for that person before considering other options.

(4) A child is defined as a person under the age of 18.

(5) A vulnerable adult is defined as a person over the age of 18, who has a dependency on others, or a requirement for assistance from others, in the performance of basic functions. This may include people who:

  • Have a severe impairment in their ability to communicate with others; or
  • Have a physical disability, illness or injury; or
  • Have mental health issues or learning difficulties; or
  • Are unable to protect themselves from harm through substance addiction, neglect or abuse.


Child & Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy Aims


(6) The aim of The Inland Waterways Association’s Child & Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy is to promote good practice:

  • Providing children and vulnerable adults with appropriate safety and protection whilst engaged in activities organised or managed by the Association.
  • Allowing all employees and volunteers to make informed and confident responses to specific child and vulnerable adult protection issues.
  • Providing practical guidance for volunteers and employees on procedures, and ensuring that it is easily accessible to all.


(7) The Association will endeavour to ensure safeguarding by:

  • Sharing information through various mediums (website, Bulletin, volunteer induction) on protection and good practice guidelines when working with children or vulnerable adults to its volunteers, members and employees.
  • Ensuring the Association’s’ volunteers and employees have read and understood the Association’s guidelines and procedures, when working with children and vulnerable adults. 
  • Having clear guidelines on how to deal with the disclosure or discovery of abuse.
  • Having clear guidelines on how to deal with missing children or vulnerable person(s).
  • Ensuring all events and activities run by the Association are well planned to minimise the risks to children and vulnerable adults and to ensure the safety and enjoyment of everyone involved in an activity.
  • Monitoring and reviewing this policy and the associated procedures on a regular basis, and at least annually by the Association’s trustees.
  • Ensuring all reasonable steps are taken to ensure unsuitable people are prevented from working with children and vulnerable adults.
  • Appointing an employee at the Association’s Head Office to be responsible for child and vulnerable adult protection issues throughout the Association. [This person is the Volunteer Co-ordinator].


(8) Good Practice Guidelines

  • All IWA volunteers and employees leading an activity on behalf of the Association which may involve children and/or vulnerable adults should have read and understood IWA’s Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy and Guidelines (i.e. this document).
  • Treat everyone with respect and dignity regardless of age, gender, race or ability.
  • Guardians and carers should be made aware that they are ultimately responsible for their child or vulnerable adult. The Association is responsible for providing appropriate numbers of supervising adults to supervise the children and/or vulnerable adults during the activity.
  • All activities involving children and/or vulnerable adults should be risk assessed and adequately planned to allow all volunteers to participate in an activity safely and to their full potential.
  • Volunteers and employees should always work in an open environment, avoiding one to one contact with children and/or vulnerable adults.
  • Maintain a safe and appropriate distance with children and/or vulnerable adults – volunteers should avoid unnecessary physical contact of any kind with a child and/or vulnerable adult unless it is an emergency or the parent or guardian has given permission.
  • Volunteers and employees should act as good role models. They should not use any inappropriate language at any time, smoke or drink alcohol in the presence of children and/or vulnerable adults. Exceptions to this may be appropriate at social events, for example a vulnerable adult attending an IWA Branch Social Event such as a Christmas Party.
  • It is best practice to gain verbal consent from an activity participant and, if under 18, their parent or carer before taking any photos of them in an activity organised by the Association. Where photos might be used for the purpose of publicising the Association or its activities permission from the parent or guardian should be sought before publishing the images. Individual children should not be identified in the accompanying text.
  • A written record of any injury or incident that occurs during an IWA activity should be recorded using the Accident Report Form.


(9) Further Guidance

Recruitment and Employment of Staff and Volunteers

Dealing with complaints, accusations and whistle-blowing

Missing or Found Person(s)

First Aid and Accident Reporting

Photographing or Filming of Children and Vulnerable Adults

Working with Youth Groups

Waterway Recovery Group Activities

Overnight Stays for Under 18s

Welcoming Vulnerable Adults

 

Useful Information

(10) Do’s and Don’ts when working with Children

https://www.waterways.org.uk/information/health_safety/dos_and_donts_when_working_with_children

Accident Report Form
https://www.waterways.org.uk/information/health_safety/accident_reporting

Incident Report Form – Children https://www.waterways.org.uk/information/health_safety/documents/incident_report_form_children_vulnerable_adults

Health & Safety Section of IWA’s Website
https://www.waterways.org.uk/information/health_safety/health_and_safety_homepage

 

Recruitment of Employees and Volunteers
(11) All reasonable steps will be taken to ensure unsuitable people are prevented from working with children and vulnerable adults. All volunteers and employees, who supervise or help run IWA activities where children or vulnerable adults may be present will be briefed on the Child & Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy. As it is not anticipated that a volunteer or employee will have regular, unsupervised contact with a child or vulnerable adult the Association does not require Disclosure and Barring Service checks (DBS) to be undertaken.

Note: Recruitment processes and requirements for DBS checks will be reviewed regularly by the Trustees in response to increasing volunteering opportunities being provided by the Association.

Dealing with complaints, accusations and whistle-blowing


Receiving Information or Suspecting Abuse
(12) Abuse can be in many different forms – physical, sexual, emotional or neglect. Vulnerable adults are also at risk of financial exploitation. It is not our responsibility to investigate suspected cases of abuse or ill treatment, but it is our responsibility to refer such cases to the appropriate authorities.


(13) If a child and/or vulnerable adult talks to you about something which gives you cause for concern:

  • Never promise to keep it a secret;
  • Reassure the child and/or vulnerable adult that they are doing the right thing by talking to someone and try to involve another adult in the conversation if possible;
  • Listen  to the child and/or vulnerable adult  but don’t ask any leading questions;
  • Talk to your site/activity leader immediately;
  • Write down an accurate transcript of the conversation using an IWA Incident Report Form as soon as possible and give it to the Site/Activity Leader and send a copy to the Volunteer Coordinator at IWA Head Office.


(14) If you have a concern about a young person’s safety or well being you should follow these steps:  

  • If you have any concerns about the abuse of a child and/or vulnerable adult keep calm. Talk to the activity leader immediately explaining your concerns. If appropriate the leader should then contact IWA Head Office with their concerns, and together discuss the best plan of action to ensure the safety and well-being of the child or vulnerable adult. An incident report (available on request or download from IWA’s website) should be sent to IWA Head Office.
  • If anyone is under a serious threat of physical harm or in urgent need of medical treatment do not hesitate to immediately dial 999 and ask for an ambulance if there is a need or for the police if a crime has been committed. After the event write down an accurate transcript of events using IWA’s incident report form and send it to the Volunteer Coordinator at IWA Head Office. 


Dealing with allegations and whistle-blowing

(15) It is the responsibility of all volunteers and employees to refer suspected cases of inappropriate behaviour, abuse or ill treatment to the Activity Leader who will then make the decision, after speaking to IWA Head Office, whether or not the matter should be escalated and/or requires the appropriate authorities to be alerted. There should be a written record of any concerns regarding abuse. All records should be kept confidential and sent onto IWA Head Office.  If an allegation is made against a volunteer or employee, the individual should be removed from the activity until a formal investigation has been conducted by the appropriate authorities.

A full internal investigation should also be carried out by a Disciplinary Committee formed of the Chief Executive, National Chairman and other appropriate individuals nominated by trustees.


Missing or Found Person(s)

Guidelines for Missing Person(s)
(16) The person receiving the initial report of a missing person should try and put the individual(s) making the report at ease and take them to the nominated meeting point allocated by Activity Leader in the induction. The person should then take the following steps.

  • Contact the Activity Leader to make them aware of the situation
  • Take details of the missing person – such as name, age, appearance, clothing (not just outer coat as these are often discarded), and last known point of contact.
  • Activity Leader to coordinate an initial search appropriate to the site and conditions.
  • If after a second search of the site the missing person is not found then the emergency services should be alerted.

Guidance for Found Person(s)
(17) On finding a person who has clearly lost contact with their group, the following steps should be taken.

  • The found person should be escorted, by a minimum of two people, to the nominated meeting point.
  • Details of found person should be taken - including name, address (if known) and details of person/group they were with.
  • Activity Leader should be made aware of the situation and asked to try and locate the rest of the party. If this is unsuccessful they should contact the relevant ‘emergency contact’ number provided on the signing-in sheet.
  • Upon locating/identifying the rest of the party appropriate checks should be made before re-uniting the parties.

First Aid Procedures and Accident Reporting

(18) A first aid kit should be kept at an appropriate point near to the activity and all volunteers and employees involved in the activity should know the location of the kit. 

If a child or vulnerable adult requires medical attention:

  • Do not be left alone with the child or vulnerable adult, always ensure another adult is present.
  • Call the nominated first aider or, in the case of an emergency, an ambulance.
  • If there is no nominated first aider ask the child or vulnerable adult to tell you where they are hurt and how. Secure consent from the guardian or carer if the need arises to administer emergency first aid and/or other medical treatment.
  • For non serious injuries, like a bump, minor knock, assess the injury and use the first aid kit to deal with the injury, ensuring another adult is present at all times.
  • Keep a written record of any injury that occurs, along with the details of any treatment given.


Accident Reporting

(19) All accidents and incidents that occur whilst carrying out activities on behalf of The Inland Waterways Association and its subsidiaries must be reported using the form provided on the website. https://www.waterways.org.uk/information/health_safety/accident_reporting
When you have filled out the form please send it, as soon as possible, to: IWA Volunteers Coordinator, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham, HP5 1WA or email a copy to jenny.black@waterways.org.uk


Photographing or Filming of Children and Vulnerable Adults

(20) Be sensitive about taking photos and films of IWA activities. It is best practice to gain verbal consent from the participant and, if under 18, their guardian or carer before taking any photos. Volunteers should also make the individual aware of the possible locations where these photos may be featured or published.  Where photos of children and/or vulnerable adults may be used for the purpose of publicising the Association (for example in newspapers or on IWA’s website) permission from the guardian or carer should be sought before publishing the images. Individual children should not be identified in the accompanying text.


Working with Youth Groups

(21) The activity leader must make clear to youth groups and organisations that they are responsible for providing appropriate numbers of supervising adults to take responsibility for the children and/or vulnerable adults. The activity leader should carry out risk assessment for any activity involving children and/or vulnerable adults.


Waterway Recovery Group Activities

(22) IWA’s Waterway Recovery Group organises weekend and week-long residential working holidays called ‘Canal Camps’. WRG welcomes participants from all backgrounds, ages (over 18), gender, disability, etc, on the condition that it can ensure their safety, and the safety of others on site. The Canal Camp leader cannot assume sole responsibility for vulnerable adults as it is not reasonably practical due to the nature of WRG’s activities and the resources available; therefore a parent or carer must be present and responsible for their supervision and care at all times. Whilst participation in all WRG activities is subject to their suitability for individual participants, WRG welcomes enquiries and will work to accommodate all volunteers where possible.  The Camp leader should encourage volunteers to disclose any information (in confidence) before the start of the camp that might affect their health and safety, or the safety of others whilst taking part in a Canal Camp. Early disclosure allows the site or activity leader to adequately plan and assess the risk to allow all volunteers to participate in an activity or event to their full potential.

(23) Canal Camp leaders may occasionally have to make judgement calls at the start of a working holiday due to lack of prior information regarding a participant’s mental or physical health. Leaders are advised to try and find an alternative activity or arrangements that are suitable to the individual, before considering asking them to leave the activity or site. The WRG Board will always support any decision made by the leaders to refuse a participant if they believe taking part on the working holiday would result in danger to the individual or affect the well-being and safety of the rest of the group. A Duty Director is appointed to every Camp and will be able to support the leader in taking the best approach possible to ensure a positive outcome for the individual and the group as a whole. See Section I. Welcoming Vulnerable Adults and WRG Leaders Guidance Notes for more details.


Overnight Stays for Under 18s

(24) On 10th September 2012, the definition of a regulated activity relating to children was amended in the Protection of Freedoms Act. An overnight stay (between 2am and 6am) is now classified as a regulated activity, and as a consequence the Activity Leader would need to have a fully enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check (DBS), have gained parental consent and have completed a risk assessment to cover all aspects (including sleeping arrangements, showering, toilets, etc).   IWA does not, therefore, currently offer unsupervised residential opportunities to under 18s. This aspect of the policy will be reviewed on an annual basis, or as and when the need arises.

(25) An under 18 may attend a two day activity which requires an overnight stay, if supervised by a guardian or carer. This must be approved by the organising committee and the activity leader. Risk assessments (to include sleeping arrangements, showering, toilets, etc) must be carried out and safeguarding measures put in place before the event.


Welcoming Vulnerable Adults

(26) The Association cannot provide direct care to anyone with special needs. We ask for a carer or guardian to accompany a vulnerable adult, if necessary. Whilst ordinarily, arrangements for those with special needs will have been discussed in advance with the activity leader, carer or guardian and volunteer, occasionally a vulnerable adult (without a carer or guardian) may turn up spontaneously, especially if an activity has been promoted to the wider public. A vulnerable adult should not be automatically prevented from joining an IWA activity if they arrive without a carer or support worker. Leaders are advised to try and find an activity or arrangement that is suitable to the individual, before considering asking them to leave the activity. However if the Activity Leader responsible for an activity suspects, either immediately or as an activity proceeds, that any adult is not capable of acting in a way appropriate to the activity and could affect the well-being or safety of the group they must act immediately. This may include asking the volunteer to leave site, stopping the activity and/or asking the person in question not to attend future activities.

(27) Before participating in an activity, the leader should ensure that the following information has been acquired from all participants:  name, emergency contact name & number(s); and relevant medical details.

 

Approved by IWA's trustees on 12th October 2013, but subject to further review and consultation.

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