Charity trustees

Introduction

Safeguarding and child protection for your organisation

Charity trustees in the UK are required to take steps to protect everyone who comes into contact with their organisation from harm (Charity Commission for England and Wales, 2019; Charity Commission for Northern Ireland, 2019; Scottish Charity Regulator, 2018).

This includes:

  • ensuring safeguarding policies, procedures and measures are fit for purpose and up-to-date
  • making sure everyone in the organisation is aware of their safeguarding responsibilities and knows how to respond to concerns
  • having a lead trustee for safeguarding and child protection
  • challenging any decisions which adversely affect anyone’s wellbeing
  • managing allegations of abuse against someone involved in the organisation
  • reporting serious incidents as necessary.

On this page you’ll find information to help trustees fulfil their responsibilities for keeping children safe.

> Learn more about our online training course for charity trustees

> Listen to our episode on the role and responsibilities of charity trustees

 

Safeguarding measures

Safeguarding measures

It’s vital that all charities have the right safeguarding policies and procedures in place.

You should also make sure your suppliers, contractors and partner organisations have robust safeguarding and child protection measures.

We’ve developed a range of safeguarding guidance to support voluntary and community organisations.

Governance and leadership

Your charity should have a nominated child protection lead who is responsible for responding to concerns about children and young people’s wellbeing.

It’s best practice to also have a trustee who is responsible for overseeing safeguarding and child protection.

You should appoint somebody senior to manage allegations of abuse against staff or volunteers (this might be your nominated child protection lead or someone else).

Everyone in the organisation should know who these people are and how to contact them.

The trustees should provide the people in these roles with support and positive challenge. They should also check that everyone in the organisation is receiving safeguarding and child protection training that’s appropriate to their role.

> Find out more about the role of a nominated child protection lead

Safer recruitment

Your organisation needs a process to ensure that everyone who works or volunteers with children is safe to do so.

When engaging new trustees for your organisation you should also follow safer recruitment best practice.

> Find out more about safer recruitment

> Find out more about our safer recruitment training

Managing allegations and incidents

If a child protection or safeguarding incident occurs, trustees should make sure the charity responds appropriately. This includes:

  • checking safeguarding and child protection procedures are being followed
  • acting as a ‘critical friend’ to review what happened and improve policies and procedures for the future
  • reporting the incident to the necessary bodies and agencies.

More information about the regulatory bodies and their reporting requirements is available in the Legislation and guidance tab.

> Find out more about preventing abuse by someone in a position of trust or authority

> Find out more about managing allegations of abuse made against an adult

> Find out more about managing allegations of abuse made against a child

Assessment and review

All organisations should regularly review and update their safeguarding measures. Charity trustees need to act as a ‘critical friend’ as part of this process. They should scrutinise policies and procedures and ask relevant questions to make sure their organisation is following best practice.

> Use our safeguarding checklist to help review and update your safeguarding measures

Training

Trustees need training to ensure they understand their safeguarding and child protection responsibilities and can prioritise safeguarding in every area of their role.

> Take our online training course on safeguarding for trustees

Legislation and guidance

Legislation and guidance

Charity law and regulation

Charities in each nation of the UK are governed by specific legislation and regulation. Summaries of charity law are available from:

The Charity Commission for England and Wales also gives legal guidance on different topics.

Safeguarding and child protection legislation and guidance

Legislation and guidance across the UK highlights the responsibility of those who work with children to safeguard them from all forms of abuse and neglect.

There is also specific guidance for charities in each nation, which explains what safeguarding is and what trustees’ responsibilities are.

In England and Wales, the Charity Commission has published guidance on Safeguarding and protecting people for charities and trustees (Charity Commission for England and Wales, 2019).

The Department for Education (DfE) in England is also consulting on a draft voluntary safeguarding code of practice for out-of-school settings (DfE, 2018).

Children England provides guidance on the safeguarding responsibilities of trustees (Children England, 2019). 

The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland offers advice on Safeguarding children (Charity Commission for Northern Ireland, 2019).

In Scotland, the OSCR provides guidance on keeping vulnerable beneficiaries safe (Scottish Charity Regulator, 2018).

The WCVA in Wales also provides information about Safeguarding and safer recruitment for third sector organisations (WCVA, 2019).

NCVO has published a set of ethical principles for charities (NCVO, 2019).

Responding to safeguarding incidents

In England and Wales, the Charity Commission has published a Strategy for dealing with safeguarding issues in charities (Charity Commission for England and Wales, 2017a).

Guidance on how to report incidents and who to report them to is provided in Safeguarding – the role of other agencies (Charity Commission for England and Wales, 2017b).

In Northern Ireland, the Serious incident reporting guidance (PDF) includes information about how to report incidents to the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland and lists the other organisations that need to be informed (Charity Commission for Northern Ireland, 2018).

In Scotland, the OSCR provides guidance on reporting notifiable events (PDF) (Scottish Charity Regulator, 2017).

Fundraising guidance

Across the UK there is guidance to ensure organisations that raise funds do so safely and legally.

There is also guidance to help foundations and funding bodies ensure the organisations they work with have adequate safeguarding measures.

The Fundraising code of practice outlines the standards expected of all charitable fundraising organisations across the UK. Its key principles are that the work of all fundraising organisations should be legal, open, honest and respectful. It includes a section on working with children which covers age limits, consent/permissions and vetting and barring checks (Fundraising Regulator, 2019).

The Association of Charitable Foundations (ACF) has provided guidance on Safeguarding for foundations (PDF) (ACF, 2018). This highlights that trusts and foundations should ensure they have a safeguarding culture within their own organisation as well as ensuring those applying for funding are addressing safeguarding. Trusts may require organisations to report any safeguarding incidents to them as part of the funding agreement.

References

References

Association of Charitable Foundations (ACF) (2018) Safeguarding for foundations: thinking through your approach (PDF). London: ACF.

Charity Commission for England and Wales (2017a) Strategy for dealing with safeguarding issues in charities. [Accessed 08/02/19].

Charity Commission for England and Wales (2017b) Safeguarding – the role of other agencies. [Accessed 08/02/19].

Charity Commission for England and Wales (2019) Safeguarding and protecting people for charities and trustees. [Accessed 31/10/19].

Charity Commission for Northern Ireland (2018) Serious incident reporting guidance (PDF). Lurgen: Charity Commission for Northern Ireland.

Charity Commission for Northern Ireland (2019) Safeguarding children. [Accessed 08/02/19].

Children England (2019) Everyone’s business: safeguarding for trustees. London: Children England. 

Department for Education (DfE) (2018) Out-of-school settings: voluntary safeguarding code of practice. [Accessed 08/02/19].

Fundraising Regulator (2019) Fundraising code of practice. [Accessed 08/02/19].

NCVO (2019) Charity ethical principles (PDF) London: NCVO.

Scottish Charity Regulator (2017) Guidance on reporting notifiable events (PDF). Dundee: Scottish Charity Regulator.

Scottish Charity Regulator (2018) Safeguarding guidance: keeping vulnerable beneficiaries safe (PDF). Dundee: Scottish Charity Regulator.

Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA) (2019) Safeguarding and safer recruitment. [Accessed 08/02/19].

Childline

If a child or young person who uses your services needs confidential help and advice direct them to Childline. Calls to 0800 1111 are free and children can also contact Childline online.

You can also download or order Childline posters and wallet cards.

Elearning

Our online and face-to-face training courses can help develop your understanding of how to protect children from abuse and safely recruit staff and volunteers to work with children:

> Take our online training on safeguarding for trustees

> Find out more about our safer recruitment training

Related NSPCC resources

> Use our safeguarding guidance for voluntary and community organisations

> Find out more about the role of a nominated child protection lead

> Find out more about safer recruitment

> Find out more about managing allegations of abuse made against an adult

> Find out more about preventing abuse by someone in a position of trust or authority

> Find out more about managing allegations of abuse made against a child

> Use our safeguarding checklist to help review and update your safeguarding measures