Safeguarding vulnerable persons including children

Many churches and church organisations work with vulnerable people, for example the provision of entertainment, activities or care.

You must ensure that you have a process in place when selecting volunteers or employees who want to work with vulnerable people.

Requirements

Several requirements are imposed regarding background checks on employees and volunteers and risk assessing activities.

A good example of how regulations can apply is the requirement that all churches registered by the charity commission have to have a child protection policy in place.

This includes:

  • How to respond if there are concerns or suspicions of abuse;
  • A named contact (and deputy) in the church to coordinate concerns and take action;
  • Safe recruitment procedures for both paid workers and volunteers;
  • Guidelines for running church activities with children and young people.

Your central organisation may have a child protection policy which you should adopt. If not, consider the guidelines from thirtyone:eight, thirtyone:eight offers helpful guidance regarding obligations, duties, standards and how to comply with legal requirements. 

If the church hires out the premises for use by other groups, it is good practice to check that the hiring organisation is reputable and has safeguarding policies in place.

Further guidance is available in relation to safeguarding children:  www.gov.uk/topic/schools-colleges-childrens-services/safeguarding-children

For vulnerable adults guidance is available centrally from the Office of the Public Guardian www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/protecting-the-vulnerable/mca/sva-procedures-guidance-1208.pdf.  

It is recommended that if you are in doubt as to your responsibilities you should consult your local Safeguarding Authority or obtain specialist legal advice.