In today’s landscape safeguarding is a legal component, it’s integral to service delivery and it does not discriminate whether you work directly or indirectly with children, young people and their families or adults at risk. Whether you are a small or large organisation, a safer culture starts with effective governance. To begin with, it’s about mapping a framework that is clear, robust and easy to understand for everyone in the organisation. This will ultimately lead to promoting good values, positive attitudes and safer behaviours and staff conduct which then inevitably leads to a safer culture.
Current legislation and national guidance for safeguarding of children and adults at risk dictates that organisations cannot afford to not have this golden thread approach in place. Effective governance should be able to show clear evidence trails of reporting concerns and sharing information from the service user and/or member of staff directly upwards to the top layer of management. It is the senior managers, the Board of Directors/Trustees that hold final accountability and responsibility. Every safeguarding concern or allegation of professional abuse needs to be captured, recorded and responded to, identifying outcomes and leaving an evidence trail of information being shared, written and acted upon. By mapping the organisations governance framework and actively supporting a safeguarding champion’s model it allows management to have a strategic oversight of safeguarding whilst managing risk in a constructive, realistic and effective way.
When considering effective governance think about whether you may want to see an internal safeguarding group or a tier of staff that act as safeguarding champions. Safeguarding champions should be skilled and knowledgeable and feel competent to respond to safeguarding concerns acting in a supporting role for the workforce. Additionally, they should offer a further sense of reporting and reassurance for the senior managers. Both a safeguarding advisory group and safeguarding champion model internally has a crucial function for governance and a watchful eye of the safeguarding issues that are raised organisationally. This applies to both small or large organisations – the principles and theory is the same!
A model for effective governance offers many advantages such as: setting the framework for safeguarding policy and procedures, internal systems that work for the organisation and compliments the way the workforce offers interventions for safer working practices; allowing for audit and review systems to be put in place and identifying training needs and most importantly providing compliance, standardisation and consistency.
Alongside this it can improve inspection results and link to inspection frameworks, as well as providing opportunities for accessing funding and business growth.
Showing and acting in a transparent way takes bravery and courage and can be demonstrated by true leadership. This way the leader’s actions are congruent with safeguarding values, attitudes and practices. By continually working towards a safer culture it gives the organisation safer processes, safer environments and safer information, both internally and externally facing. The organisation’s environment and every culture is one where people have a shared vision with appropriate attitudes, beliefs and engagement – where behaviours and conduct are appropriate and where the regime and cultural practices are safe.
Finally, by being able to share best practice across the organisation and having an unambiguous transparent approach to safeguarding children, young people and adults at risk, we can ensure that these individuals are valued and have a voice. All people should be treated with respect and dignity and staff and equally children, young people and adults at risk should feel safer.