Abuse occurs in all areas of society, across class, race, gender, and culture. Safeguarding is the process of protecting vulnerable people with care and support needs from abuse and neglect.
Pagan Phoenix Southwest uses this Safeguarding policy for both adults (people aged 18 and over) and children.
Living a life that is free from harm and abuse is a fundamental right of every person in society. All of us need to sign up to this principle and to follow it in our everyday lives, as good neighbours and citizens.
Pagan Phoenix Southwest is committed to promoting well-being for people attending our Conference and preventing abuse and harm. We aim to promote a culture that encourages candour, openness, and honesty.
Who is a person at risk?
An ‘adult at risk‘ is any person aged 18 years or over, who has care and support needs, and as a result of those needs, is unable to protect themselves from significant harm or exploitation. This may be because they have a mental health issue, a disability, visual or hearing problems, are old and frail or have some form of illness.
Children and young persons – as defined in the Children Acts 1989 and 2004. The term ‘child’ means a person who has not reached their 18th birthday. This includes ‘young people’ aged 16 and 17 who are living independently; their status and entitlement to protection under the Children Act 1989 is not altered by the fact that they are living independently.
Purpose and scope of this policy
This policy applies to all volunteers working at the Conference, including both the Directors of Pagan Phoenix Southwest and any other such volunteers appointed by them.
The purpose of this policy is as follows.
- To protect adults who are attending, or volunteering at, the Conference organized by Pagan Phoenix Southwest.
- To protect children and young people who are attending the Conference organized by Pagan Phoenix Southwest.
- To ensure that all volunteers organizing or working at the Conference are aware of and understand this safeguarding guidance.
- To ensure our working practices will minimize the risk of abuse by being sensitive to cultural, gender and individual needs.
- To support and encourage vulnerable people to access the protection of the law and legal processes.
- To ensure that allegations of abuse are listened to, and acted upon appropriately, whilst recognising the right of people 16 and over to consent.
Responsibilities of volunteers
Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility. Whatever your role at the Conference, it is your responsibility to be alert to the possibility of a person being at risk of abuse or neglect and to be aware of any signs. Ignoring concerns of abuse is not an option. If at any time you think that a person is being abused, or is at risk of abuse or neglect, make sure, as far as you are able, that the person is safe from further harm and have the support they need. You must report your concerns as quickly as possible to a Director of Pagan Phoenix Southwest so that they can be looked into. This provides you with the greatest degree of protection and gives Pagan Phoenix Southwest the opportunity to address the concerns and to liaise with any other appropriate agencies in a timely and responsive manner.
If you know or suspect that a person at risk is being abused or neglected, you must take action.
If someone is at immediate risk of serious harm, you MUST dial 999 first
Types of abuse
What constitutes abuse or neglect can take many forms. The types of abuse laid down in the Care Act 2014 include:
- Physical abuse,
- Sexual abuse,
- Psychological abuse,
- Financial or material abuse,
- Modern slavery,
- Discriminatory abuse,
- Organizational abuse,
- Neglect and acts of omission,
- Self-neglect, and
- Domestic abuse.
Anyone can carry out abuse or neglect
- family members,
- friends or acquaintances, or
- other Conference attendees or organizers.
What you should do if you have concerns or someone makes a disclosure
Sometimes the person may tell you that they are being abused, but often they may be fearful of speaking out, or not have the understanding that they are being abused. In these cases, you may notice something unusual about the person’s appearance or behaviour.
If someone makes a disclosure of abuse to you.
- Stay calm while the person is talking, even if you’re upset by what you hear, otherwise they may become more upset themselves and stop telling you what’s been going on.
- Calmly accept what is being said without comment and remain open-minded. Do not make judgements or jump to conclusions.
- Let them talk as much as they want to, but be mindful that if they’ve been abused, they may be reluctant to talk about it because they’re afraid of making the situation worse, because they don’t want to cause trouble or because they might be experiencing coercion by someone.
- Reassure the person and stay with them, or make sure someone who they trust is with them.
- Gently ask them what they would like to do about what has happened – they may have a view.
- Do not promise that you will be able to keep what the person says confidential.
- Make explicit the fact that you need to share what you are told, but only to people who need to know.
- You must always try to seek the wishes and consent of the individual before taking action or sharing personal information. However, there may be circumstances when consent cannot be obtained, because of lack of capacity, or where others may be at risk, or where you suspect that the person is refusing consent because they are under duress. It is your responsibility to act on any suspicion or evidence of abuse or neglect and to pass on relevant information to the police (if immediate serious harm is involved), or a Director of Pagan Phoenix Southwest.
- Remember it can be very difficult for an abused person to talk about what’s been happening to them. Unless you’re concerned for their immediate health and safety and feel it’s vital to act straight away, give them time to talk and to think about what they’d like to do next
- You must inform a Director of Pagan Phoenix Southwest about the abuse, even if the facts are unclear or you just have a suspicion.
Recording and preserving evidence
It is important that you record all relevant information including what you saw, what you heard, and why you acted as you did. Record any physical signs or injuries by using a hand drawing if necessary.
- If the person has physical signs or injuries try and ensure they are seen by a qualified medical practitioner (e.g. doctor or nurse).
- Write down what is said to you, and who said it, including their relationship to the person.
- Include any questions you have asked, and make sure you sign and date what you have written.
- Include any details about what the person wants to be done at this stage.
- In cases of physical or sexual assault, encourage the person not to wash, bathe or shower where you think they might need a medical examination.
- Try and ensure that others around do not interfere with any items that may be important for the police if it may be a criminal matter.
- Keep your record safe and confidential.
Responsibilities of Pagan Phoenix Southwest Directors
- Ensure that written evidence is stored securely and any forensic evidence is kept as safe as possible.
- Keep an ongoing record of actions taken, for instance, phone conversations and any actions taken to keep the person safe or comfortable.
- Contact Cornwall Adult Safeguarding or Cornwall Children’s Safeguarding immediately on the numbers below to raise a concern.
- If the abuse which has been reported has occurred out of county (i.e. not at the Conference), still report to Cornwall Safeguarding, informing them of this.
- Follow the directions of the safeguarding social worker or police if attending
- Be mindful of the welfare of the volunteer who has reported the abuse, offering support or debriefing where needed.
To raise a concern (alert):
Cornwall Adult Safeguarding – 0300 1234 131
Cornwall Children’s Safeguarding – Phone MARU (the Multi-Agency Referral Unit) 0300 1231 116
Out of Hours (weekends) – 01208 251 300
In the case of suspected child abuse or neglect, you can phone:
Childline – 0800 1111