Our Safeguarding and Welfare Officer is Craig Geddes, Company Director.
Their 24 hour contact telephone number is: 07967383050
As always, safeguarding policies serve a dual role of protecting vulnerable people as well as protecting leaders and other adults from misunderstandings. As The Outdoors People primarily operate on school grounds, school staff have ultimate responsibility for child welfare but we do retain a professional and personal duty of care.
Signs of Abuse and Neglect
Below are some of the characteristics which may be evidence of abuse. These are by no means exhaustive and are only indicators of potential abuse. In addition, many of them are things that would not generally be apparent over the duration of one of our Camps.
- Unexplained or suspicious injuries such as bruising, cuts or burns, particularly if situated on a part of the body not normally prone to injury.
- An injury of which the explanation seems inconsistent.
- Someone describes what appears to be an abusive act involving them.
- Unexplained behaviour changes e.g. becoming very quiet, withdrawn, or displaying
sudden outbursts of temper.
- Inappropriate sexual awareness.
- Distrustful of adults, particularly those with whom a close relationship would
normally be expected.
- Difficulty making friends.
- A child being prevented from socialising with other children.
- Displaying variation in eating patterns including overeating or loss of appetite.
- Becoming increasingly unkempt or dirty.
The presence of any of these indicators is not proof of abuse but are a cause for concern and must be reported.
“Bullying” Between Participants
A lot of behaviour that is sometimes hand waved away by adults, actually constitutes abuse or assault and is known to be highly damaging to young people and their families. While such behaviour should be approached in an age appropriate manner and treated with appropriate sensitivity, we ask that staff never ignore it. The Management Team is always available to provide support if you are not sure how to handle particular behaviours and will fully endorse you in interrupting or stopping a session should you feel it is necessary.
Sexual Contact Between Participants
With primary school age children, sexual contact beyond consensual hand holding or hugs may be a cause for concern. Such concerns should be brought to the attention Management Team with follow up discussion with school staff.
With older minors, consensual expressions of normal and age appropriate affection or sexual attraction (hand holding, hugs, cuddling, kissing, etc.) should not be treated as problematic unless it is interfering with our ability to deliver our camps. Any concerns that contact may not be consensual, or may not be age appropriate should be sensitively addressed at the time or brought to the attention of the Management Team.
Sexual Contact Between Adults
Consensual and healthy expressions of affection and sexual attraction (hand holding, hugs, cuddling, kissing, etc.) should not be treated as problematic unless it is interfering with our ability to deliver our camps. While working on our camps, please keep sexual contact to things suitable for a “public” environment.
Striking up a friendship or relationship with your colleagues, other contractors, school staff, or other adults is absolutely ok but please conduct yourself in a manner that is appropriate for someone who is “representing” The Outdoors People. You may wish to inform a Company Director if you intend to pursue a friendship or relationship with a client.
Sexual Contact Between Adults and Minors
This is absolutely unacceptable on our camps and is, by definition, not consensual under any circumstances. Difficulties can arise between young people of 16 and 15 (or similar ages) respectively, but such relationships need to be asked to confine themselves to expressions of affection and sexual attraction suitable for public settings.
It is important to note that, where an adult is in a position of responsibility over a minor (such as their teacher, instructor, or volunteer leader), the legal age of consent rises to 18 rather than 16.
Physical Contact with Participants.
Very few of our activities require our staff to touch participants and training in those activities must always include appropriate safeguarding measures. In particular staff must warn participants or ask their permission if contact is to take place.
Never enter a one-on-one situation with vulnerable people, if a private conversation must be held with a vulnerable person it must be done in an “open” environment. If you need to enter a tent with young people (most commonly while putting it up or taking it down) ensure that the door is propped or held open and ensure that there are multiple young people or adults present.
Never be afraid to physically intervene by any means necessary if someone is in danger of injury (i.e. straying too near the fire, etc.).
Post Camp Communication with Minors
No communication post camp is to take place with a minor under any circumstances. If a young person attempts to reach out to you on social media then please politely decline the contact, take a screen shot and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org so that you have a full record to protect you.
All people working with vulnerable groups in a professional capacity are legally required to report any concerns they may have or disclosures that have been made to them. This might include concerns about a member of our team, school staff, peer to peer abuse, a vulnerable persons home life, or any other concerns.
Do not make any promises to the vulnerable person and endeavour to maintain a calm appearance so as not to agitate a situation. Please talk to the first available member of the Management Team and also contact Craig Geddes as soon as possible. Please use whichever means of communication is fastest and most appropriate at the time though you will also be asked to email your concerns to us so that there is a digital record. We WILL follow up on all such reports and contact the relevant safeguarding bodies and also keep you as informed as possible. As always, following every step of these procedures protects both young people and adults.
What Happens if you are Accused of an Abusive Action
The Outdoors People will refer to the process outlined in our Complaints and Disciplinary Procedures in investigating an accusation. We recommend that you:
- Make notes of all your actions/contacts with the person in question as soon as possible.
- Seek access to professional and legal advice, the Citizens Advice service or your union are good starting points.
- Ensure that you are no longer working with the person making the allegation.
- Accept that your colleagues may not be in a position to discuss the matter with you while an investigation is underway.
- Accept that you may be suspended from working with any vulnerable people.
Such events are difficult for all concerned. The Outdoors People will do our best to remain impartial in all matters relating to an accusation but our main concern has to be the vulnerable persons welfare. For an individual, against whom an allegation has been made this will be a difficult time. There are no easy ways to deal with such a situation, it is important that you seek help and support and you may wish to contact a therapist or councillor and reach out to friends and family for support.
For circumstances with particularly far reaching effects or for accusations brought against a member of the management team, The Outdoors People may bring in expert third parties to conduct any investigations.