Trustees should make safeguarding “a governance priority”

The Charity Commission for England and Wales has outlined new plans to help safeguard the people who work for and with the not-for-profit sector.

In its new report, Strategy for dealing with safeguarding issues, the Commission says trustees should “take steps to ensure no one who comes into contact with their charity suffers distress or harm”.

The report contains information on how trustees can provide a safer environment for staff and volunteers, as well as the people they support in its day to day activities.

The Commission says the strategy will do more than simply prevent physical abuse. In particular, it will look at how trustees can protect people from radicalisation and from the misuse of personal data.

Charities will also be asked to carry out due diligence on overseas partners and how funding is being used.

“Where a charity funds other organisations, such as overseas partners, that work with children or adults at risk, its trustees should carry out appropriate due diligence so that they can be confident that their partner has in place appropriate safeguarding policies and procedures,” the report says.

Michelle Russell, Director of Investigations, Monitoring and Enforcement at the Commission, said: “The public rightly expect all charities to be safe environments. So all trustees should make safeguarding a governance priority. Of course, what trustees do in practice will depend on the context of their charity’s work, and trustees should take a proportionate approach. Charities working with vulnerable groups such as children and adults at risk for example, will need to ensure their safeguarding policies and practices comply with relevant safeguarding legislation and regulations.

“But all trustees should think about the people that come into contact with their charity and consider the steps they can take to prevent them from coming to harm.

“Recent accusations of harassment in the workplace, including against some charities, demonstrate how vital it is that trustees are alive to the need to protect and safeguard all those involved in or affected by their work.”

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