National Policies for Creating a Safe Environment for Vulnerable People in the Catholic Church in England and Wales
- Statement of Principles
- Safer Recruitment
- Good Relationships
- Parish Activities
- Trips Out
- Access to an Independent Person for Children, Young People and Adults
- Outreach - Home Visiting
- Risk Assessment
- Capacity and Consent
- Money Matters
- Health Matters
- IT/Communication Technology/Photography
- Accidents and Emergencies
- Sacrament of Reconciliation
1. Statement of Principles
“Being loved and kept safe go to the very heart of the Church’s ministry to children & vulnerable adults” (Safeguarding with Confidence - The Cumberlege Commission Report, 2007).
Every human being has a value and dignity which we, as Catholics, recognise as coming directly from God’s creation of male and female in his own image and likeness. Our parishes and communities must be a place of welcome, where each person is respected and loved, and in which everyone receives and shares their unique gifts. Parishes must be communities where we support and protect each other. We must take particular care of those who may be vulnerable because of age, illness or disability or who may be vulnerable because of current or past life experiences.
Everyone in the Church has a responsibility to safeguard and promote the wellbeing of those who worship in our Church or who join us for any activity facilitated by Church members.
The Purpose of the Safe Environment Procedures
When Church activities are organised well, with regard for the safety and wellbeing of all, we reduce the risk of avoidable harm to all participants and create spaces of true welcome in which relationships which are respectful and enriching can develop.
The procedures are intended for use by Safeguarding Offices, Safeguarding Representatives and those responsible for organising Church activities which involve vulnerable people of all ages. It is expected that Safeguarding Representatives and Safeguarding Commissions will promote these procedures within parishes and other communities to ensure that everyone understands what is expected of them.
Church activities may take place on church premises or in various other environments such as residential events, home visiting or trips out.
The procedures outline essential requirements and also provide practical guidance on how to organise these activities well, with regard to the dignity, safety, and wellbeing of all concerned so that avoidable risks are anticipated and minimised and that relationships with church representatives are positive, healthy and life giving.
The procedures are not exhaustive. Leaders of activities will recognise that additional safeguards need to be considered for a particular group or activity. In this event leaders should seek advice from the Safeguarding Office.
2. Safer Recruitment
Recruitment and Selection
All National Safeguarding Policies and Procedures apply equally to all employees, office holders (Clergy and religious) and Volunteers working with children, young people and adults in the Catholic Church in England and Wales.
Recruitment and selection policies and procedures are detailed in the Safer Recruitment Practice Including DBS Disclosures Procedure.
The selection of candidates for the priesthood and for religious life is undertaken through rigorous national procedures agreed by the Bishops' Conference and the Conference of Religious.
Practical Steps When Appointing Employees and Volunteers
It is not easy to identify those who are likely to abuse children, young people or adults. Any procedure that helps to clarify details of a person's background and experience can help with identification and can raise awareness levels in the organisation generally. The same should be applied regardless of the level of responsibility or the duration of appointment of a role involving contact with children, young people and adults. Similarly the Safer Recruitment procedures, including verifying identity, apply to all applicants including Clergy, Religious and those who are well known to the Church for many years. This approach ensures fairness and consistency and avoids potential breaches of the Disclosure and Barring Service Code of Practice.
All staff and Volunteers working with children, young people and adults will be selected in accordance with the Disclosure & Barring Services Policies and Procedures and in line with the Guidelines on Equality and Diversity (CBCEW, 2004).
Appointments will be made on the basis of a person's experience and ability to perform the role rather than on the urgency of the need or the availability of the applicant.
It is essential to treat all documentation relating to these application processes in strict confidence.
Please refer to the Safer Recruitment Practice Including DBS Disclosures Procedure.
Clear Roles and Responsibilities for Volunteers and Employees
A lack of clarity about the role of an individual, and about accountability to ensure people are operating according to their role, allows those who are abusive to create the conditions where abuse can occur without others becoming aware that something is wrong.
The Catholic Church in England and Wales is committed to the good practice of giving all employees and Volunteers a clear description of their specific roles in their contact with children, young people and adults.
Every employee or volunteer who works with children, young people or adults will have a role description.
As a minimum a role description should include:
A detailed description of the work;
A list of responsibilities, including the responsibility to become familiar with the National Safeguarding Policies and Procedures;
- The duty to promote safe practice, minimise all risks of abuse and maximise the response to reports of concern;
- Include clear and detailed content that reflects the specific nature of the role or the specific aspect of the role that justifies the requirement for a DBS Disclosure (where appropriate).
Formal and extensive job descriptions will always be drawn up for paid appointments by the employing body.
Employees and volunteers should sign a document to indicate that they have received and understood the job/role description and agree to adhere to the National Safeguarding policies and procedures. This should be retained by the Safeguarding Representative.
A sample document can be found in Forms Library.
Any contact that an individual has with a child/young person in a particular role must be within the confines of that role and responsibility and in accordance with the Code of Conduct.
Every job description should be reviewed annually by the person or the body that made the original appointment to ensure it still adequately represents the role.
3. Good Relationships
Children and adults should always be treated with respect and consideration. Those working in ministry with the young and the vulnerable should portray at all times a positive role model by maintaining an attitude of respect, loyalty, courtesy, tact and maturity.
Physical Contact - Respectful Touch
Appropriate affection between adults and between adults and children is important for development, in the case of children, as well as being a positive part of ministry.
Touching is an essential part of life and necessary for:
- Basic care;
- Showing love and reassurance;
- Praise and communication.
It should be safe, appropriate and not overdone. It should be remembered that touch can be perceived as a sign of warmth and friendliness or as a sign of dominance.
Touch should always be related to the recipient in terms of:
- Their needs at the time;
- Limited duration;
- Appropriateness given age, stage of development, gender, disability and culture.
All people have the right to decide how much or how little physical contact they have with others. Except in exceptional circumstances, such as when they are in need of immediate medical attention, their wishes should always be respected.
Good practice guidance:
- It may be appropriate to hold and comfort a distressed child but be aware how this contact may be interpreted by the child;
- Everything should be in public. A hug or a touch in a group or openly, visible to others is very different from that done behind closed doors or in an unobservable place;
- Physical contact is an essential element of some ministries (sports, music, dance etc). All those involved in such ministries should practice safe touch, asking permission, explaining and defining the reason for the physical contact;
- When ground rules for activities or events are being discussed, event leaders or those supervising activities should introduce the idea of safe touch;
- Providing care for those with additional needs or disabilities may require levels of physical contact. In some circumstances consultation with the individual, their parents, carers etc is essential to fully understand the requirements and abilities of the person being cared for;
- Children and adults with additional needs, may require higher levels of personal support in such areas as washing, dressing, toileting, feeding and mobility. Special arrangements may have to be made in these circumstances and agreed and supported by the individual, their parents, carers, care workers etc;
As far as possible support the person in their own care. Always avoid doing things for them if they are able to do it alone or for themselves. If they are able to help, this should be encouraged. Where the person is dependent upon your help, try and offer choices;
- In a group, team members, as part of good practice, should monitor one another in relation to physical contact. They should be able to help each other by pointing out anything that could be misunderstood or uncomfortable for a child, young person or adult;
- If an adult engages in inappropriate touch with a child, young person or adult, this must be challenged. If there are any concerns about an adult’s contact then this must be reported to the Safeguarding Representative or Safeguarding Office for advice.
NB: Any activity that is, or may be thought to be, sexually inappropriate must be avoided at all times. Care should also be taken to only touch on “safe” parts of the body.
Managing Challenging Behaviour
An integral part of the way love and care for others is shown is the way we cope with disruptive or difficult behaviour.
Children, young people and adults need to feel safe and be prevented from harming themselves or others, or getting into situations where this may happen. The first step to creating an environment where people feel safe and therefore cared for is to establish clear expectations and boundaries for all concerned.
Where possible, i.e. when age and ability permit, (see Section 10, Capacity and Consent) event leaders and participants will together agree on what expectations they can reasonably have of each other and what will happen if these expectations are not honoured.Good Practice
- Event/activity leaders set and maintain safe, consistent and understandable boundaries;
- Expectations regarding behaviour are explained, discussed and negotiated between leaders and participants to develop an ethos of care and control within activities;
- Each individual’s circumstances are taken into account in deciding measures to be taken in responding to them in relation to what is appropriate touch and any physical restraint;
- Positive behaviour will be rewarded.
Sanctions must always be the final resort after instruction and problem solving.
Under no circumstances is physical chastisement acceptable.
- Sanctions to be utilised by event/activity leaders should be explored and agreed prior to the event/activity taking place;
- Any sanction must be proportionate to the misbehaviour and only about the issues in hand. Do not bring up previous incidents to confuse the issue;
- Any sanction should be for a short period of time;
- No sanction is an end in itself and should assist the individual in understanding how they should be behaving.
It is the behaviour not the person that is not welcome.
Anti-BullyingObjectives of This Policy
- Bullying will not be tolerated;
- All adults involved in the activity/event as well as children and young people should have an understanding of what bullying is;
- All adults involved in the activity/event must know this policy on bullying, and follow it when bullying is reported;
- All children/young people and parents should know what the policy is on bullying, and what they should do if bullying arises;
- Children, young people and parents should be assured that they will be supported when bullying is reported.
We are committed to providing a caring, friendly and safe environment for all our children and young people so they can develop in a relaxed and secure atmosphere. Bullying of any kind is unacceptable in our ________________________ parish/group (name activity). If bullying does occur, all children and young people should be able to tell and be confident that incidents will be dealt with promptly and effectively. This means that anyone who knows that bullying is happening is expected to tell the group leaders.What is Bullying?
Bullying is the use of aggression with the intention of hurting another person. Bullying results in pain and distress to the victim.
Bullying can be:
- Emotional: (being unfriendly);
- Physical: (pushing, kicking, hitting, punching or any use or threat of violence including via emails or text messaging);
- Racist: (racial taunts, graffiti, gestures);
- Sexual: (unwanted physical contact or sexually abusive comments);
- Homophobic (because of, or focusing on the issue of sexual orientation);
- Verbal (name-calling, sarcasm, spreading rumours, teasing including via emails or text messaging);
- Related to a person's impairment or disability may include name calling or ridiculing;
- Directed at an adult as well as a child or young person.
Bullying hurts. No one deserves to be a victim of bullying. Everybody has the right to be treated with respect. Children and young people need to learn different ways of behaving.
We have a responsibility to respond promptly and effectively to issues of bullying.Signs and Symptoms
A child may indicate by signs or behaviour that he or she is being bullied. Adults should be aware of these possible signs and that they should consider the possibility that the child may be bullied. Further information can be obtained from Kidscape (See Help Organisations for contact details).Prevention
Strategies can be adopted to prevent bullying. As and when appropriate, these may include:
- Writing a set of group rules;
- Signing a behaviour contract;
- Writing stories or poems or drawing pictures about bullying;
- Reading stories about bullying or having them read to the group;
- Making up role-plays;
- Having discussions about bullying and why it matters.
- Report bullying to staff, event or activity leaders or organisers as appropriate;
- In cases of serious or persistent bullying, the incidents will be recorded by staff, event or activity leaders or organisers;
- In serious or persistent cases parents will be informed and asked to come in to a meeting to discuss the problem;
- If it is thought that an offence has been committed, contact the police;
- The bullying behaviour or threats of bullying must be investigated and all bullying stopped quickly;
- An attempt will be made to help the bullies change their behaviour.
- Wherever possible, the children/young people will be reconciled;
- After the incident/incidents have been investigated and dealt with, each case will be monitored to ensure repeated bullying does not take place;
- After the incident/incidents have been investigated parents/carers should be informed of the action taken;
- In serious cases, suspension or even exclusion will be considered.
Advisory Centre for Education (ACE)
0808 800 5793
Children's Legal Centre
0800 783 2187 (Young People's freephone)
0845 120 2948 (Child law advice line)
KIDSCAPE (Parent Helpline, Mon-Fri 10-4)
08451 205 204
020 8772 9900
For a copy of Kidscape's free booklets "Stop Bullying", "Preventing Bullying" and "You can beat Bullying", send a large (A4) self-addressed envelope with two 1st class stamps to:
2 Grosvenor Gardens
Do’s & Don’tsYou must:
- Operate within the Church's principles and guidance and any particular procedures of the Diocese, Religious Congregation, Parish or Club;
- Treat all children, young people and adults equally and with respect;
- Engage and interact appropriately with children, young people and adults;
- Respect a child, young person's or adult's at risk right to personal privacy;
- Challenge unacceptable behaviour and provide an example of good conduct you wish others to follow - an environment which allows bullying, inappropriate shouting or any form of discrimination is unacceptable;
- Recognise that particular care is required in moments when you are discussing sensitive issues with children, young people and adults e.g. maintain appropriate boundaries;
- Avoid situations that compromise your relationship with children, young people and adults, and are unacceptable within a relationship of trust. This rule should apply to all such behaviours including those which would not constitute an illegal act.
- Discuss topics or use vocabulary with children, young people and adults which could not be used comfortably in the presence of parents or another adult;
- Arrange an overnight trip with a child, young person or adult without ensuring that another approved person will be present and parental consent has been given;
- Take a chance when common sense suggests another more prudent approach;
- Physically, emotionally or sexually abuse, maltreat or exploit any child, young person or adult.
4. Parish Activities
Safe PlacesBrief Scope
Every parish has a responsibility to make their premises as safe and secure an environment as is possible, while making the best use of it. All risks cannot be removed, and users should be expected to behave responsibly, according to age and ability. Therefore, creating ‘Safe Places’ is a matter of striking the right balance, between safety, personal obligation and the actual use of the environment; not a matter of being overburdened with too many restrictions.Principle
Parish premises (including but not limited to; churches, parish halls, presbyteries, parish car parks and grounds) should be welcoming places where those who use them feel safe, respected and loved.Purpose, Policy and Procedure
The government health and safety legislation applies to church premises because they are classed as public places. The same principles apply to other types of church setting, such as religious houses, convents, monasteries; pastoral centres and retreat houses.
For further information see Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website
NB: Many Dioceses have existing Health & Safety Procedures which should be viewed in conjunction with these procedures. In the event of any conflict the Diocesan Health & Safety Procedure takes precedence.Making ‘Safe Places’
Risk Assessments are an integral part of creating ‘Safe Places.’ A risk assessment should be carried out on every environment that is to be used for any purpose. For guidance on carrying out a successful risk assessment please see Section 8, Risk Assessment or the Health and Safety Regulation... a short guide (Health and Safety Executive).
Consider appointing a volunteer who is willing to oversee health and safety within the Church and premises (it is advisable to seek health and safety accreditation for the volunteer). If the volunteer identifies any risks or requires any advice they should liaise with the Diocesan health & safety department, the Parish Priest, the local council or fire & rescue service as appropriate. The following links supply a great deal of information on health and safety for places of worship and would be an excellent resource for the designated health and safety volunteer:
- ChurchSafety website;
- Fire Safety Law and Guidance Documents for Business (Communities and Local Government website, archived).
Creating a ‘Safe Place’ is always unique to a particular environment; however the following procedures are examples of good practice.
- Where a presbytery is used for parish activities and as a private residence, the two functions should be kept separate;
- Any meeting with children, young people or adults should take place in an area which is either visually accessible or is frequented by other people. At least two authorised adults should be present. For specific guidance relating to the Sacrament of Reconciliation see Section 16, Sacrament of Reconciliation;
- Activities should only take place in premises which are suitable for those activities;
- Premises (and fire fighting equipment) should be regularly inspected to assess their condition and suitability, and necessary maintenance carried out. Fire fighting equipment should be in plain sight, readily accessible and clearly labelled;
- Areas must be kept tidy. Any equipment used by a particular group should be stored away neatly or kept in a safe place when the premises are not being used by that group;
- A first aid kit fully stocked for use in public places must be available, and its whereabouts must be clearly labelled;
- Emergency exits should be clearly marked.
See Equipment.Fire Safety Law
(Please note this list is not exhaustive, there may be risks unique to your environment. If in doubt contact the local fire & rescue service.)
Under the Equality Act 2010 it is unlawful for service providers to treat disabled people less favourably because they are disabled, even if this is unintentional. Therefore accessibility potentially impacts upon every activity within the church; it is a legal requirement to ensure every person has safe and easy access to every service.
For more information please visit:
Accessibility is about making services easier and safer to use for everybody.Aim
The aim of accessibility is to guarantee that all church users have equal and unrestricted access to all services/activities that the church provides, including those not on the premises, i.e. outings.Purpose, Policy and Procedure
The Equality Act 2010 is the guiding policy for accessibility, you can learn more about the act at the Equality Act 2010: guidance (GOV.UK).Accessibility in Practice
The following examples highlight general adjustments that can be made to aid access to services.
- Priority seating for wheelchair users and their helper/buggies;
- Wider benches, without kneeler for those who have difficulty moving but do not require a wheel chair;
- Alternate media for mass booklets/newsletters. i.e. Braille. Or providing alternate copies with a larger print size. Providing clearer signage, notices, posters etc. for people with impaired vision;
- Ensuring that there are accessible toilets;
- Providing signed masses or a sign language interpreter at services;
- Installing a ‘T-loop’ for people who are hearing impaired;
- Installing ramps in areas with steps, i.e. altar;
- Providing disability awareness training.
When carrying out a ‘Risk Assessment’ (see Section 8, Risk Assessment) before any activity accessibility should be taken into account. The ‘Risk Assessment’ should take into account the specific needs of all those known to be using the service. Also ensure easy access in case of an emergency.
Accessibility is still important even if the service does not take place on church premises. For example, when organising an outing consider the needs of wheel chair users by providing easily accessible transport and portable ramps. Further information can be found on the Accessible Transport Policy - GOV.UK website.
Accessibility is not just about physical access; it also applies to accessing all aspects of a service, for example if a church volunteer group operates a website and one of its members has a visual impairment then reasonable adjustment should be made to the website. Similarly, if the parish has a website it should be accessible to all.
Adjustments could include:
- Functions that change, contrast, text size or offer an audible alternative when viewing web pages. Good examples of such adjustments can be found at the DisabledGo website;
- Tiresias.org - gives very good advice on how to create a website that is accessible to all.
For further advice check out the CSAS policy at Section 14, IT/Communication Technology/Photography.
However, it is not always obvious what reasonable adjustments need to be made to make a service accessible. If a person approaches you and explains a difficulty they are having accessing a service or if they make a request for an adjustment to be made, do not feel as though you have let them down; as long as reasonable adjustment is made after the request.
Accessibility benefits all; it helps to bring together communities by ensuring no one feels ostracised and creates a friendly, inclusive atmosphere by guaranteeing safe, unhindered and easy access to all services for everyone.
To ensure that measures are in place, for the safe use of equipment, to aid and protect church users.
To ensure that adequate and safe equipment is in place for church users and that all equipment is regularly tested and is safe to use.Purpose, Policy and Procedure
The following are examples of the procedures that should be adhered to with regard to any equipment. (This list is not exhaustive).
- Electrical safety - portable appliance testing (PAT) must take place yearly by an approved individual;
- Documented evidence of these dates and indications for re-wiring in place;
- Adequate training for individuals who use this equipment, with a log of who facilitated the training and when it took place.
Fire safety - Ensure that a fire risk assessment is completed to highlight potential problems.
- Ensure that equipment to help combat a fire is visible;
- Ensure that the church users are aware of the fire procedures. For example, just before a service begins;
- Exits and fire exits are clearly identified;
- Fire alarms and detectors are in place;
- Emergency lighting is in place, in case the lighting goes off;
- Lights are flashed for the deaf, so that they are aware that there is a problem;
- Fire doors have a specific noise so that blind people can identify which way to go;
- Candles are placed in safe places, so as to prevent them from being knocked over.
A ‘training needs’ analysis can be carried out to identify who requires health and safety training, see National Standards for Induction, Supervision, Support, Training and Appraisal Procedure.
First aid kits and accident books need to be accessible and maintained, see the Health and Safety Executive website.
A ‘manual handling needs’ assessment should be carried out to prevent any harm to church users.
Ensure equipment is in an appropriate place to prevent it posing a danger.
Further information on the above can be found through the following links:
- Fire Safety Law and Guidance Documents for Business (Communities and Local Government website);
- Memorandum of Guidance on the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989. Guidance on Regulations (HSE 2007);
- Manual Handling at Work: A Brief Guide (HSE).
Safety must be worked for, not taken for granted.
Supervision and Ratios
It is important to have an appropriate ratio of adult volunteers to children, young people and adults. The factors to consider are:
- Age and gender of group members;
- Children with special needs;
- First aid cover;
- Nature of the activity;
- Accommodation arrangements.
There must always be a minimum of two adults linked to every group for all activities or events.
A general guide for minimum supervision ratios provided by the DfE is:
- One adult leader for every 3 children under 5;
- One adult leader for every 6 children under 8;
- One adult leader for every 10-15 children aged 8-11;
- One adult leader for every 15-20 children aged over 11.
Supervision ratios for adults should be based on the assessment of need. For example if an adult is infirm or wheelchair bound, the ratio should be a minimum of one to one.
When children, young people or adults are identified within the risk assessment as having additional needs that are likely to require additional supervision, specialist care or support, this must be discussed with the person’s parent or carer. Where appropriate the views of the young person or adults should also be sought.
Following the discussions the group leader will give consideration to increasing the levels of supervision so as to meet the assessed needs.
During the activity and depending on the overall size of the group participating, it should be considered as good practice for the main group to split into smaller sections so as to facilitate better group supervision. These sub groups should always remain in close proximity to each other, so as to permit adult leaders being able to support each other while safeguarding the interests of all.
Young people under eighteen are welcome and encouraged to assist with outings or activities; their involvement must be monitored so that they do not have the responsibility of a group leader or are used to meet the supervision criteria above.
Visitors to Church PremisesBrief Scope
This section will guide you through what needs to be done for regular meetings and one-off activities or events which involve children, young people and adults on church premises.Definition of Church Premises
Church premises may include buildings or properties such as:
- Parish Halls;
- Parish Centres;
- Religious Houses;
- Pastoral Centres;
- Retreat Houses/Centres.
(School Premises have their own policies for safeguarding)
The nature of church premises and those who work in them should give a sense of safety and security; for this reason even when church premises are being used by individuals or groups not normally associated with them, church authorities have a responsibility to take all reasonable steps to ensure a safe and secure environment.
These activities or events may include: Preparation for the Sacraments, Children’s Liturgy, Youth Groups, Prayer Meetings, Fundraising Events, the Sacrament of Reconciliation and all services.Principle
To ensure that all those who use the parish premises are doing so in a safe environment.Purpose, Policy and Procedure
It is essential to work through the following checklist for all activities/events involving children, young people and adults on church premises:
- Who is the named person who has overall responsibility for the activity/event and for completing this checklist?
- Has appropriate approval been obtained from the Parish Priest or his representative? (See Forms Library);
- Who is responsible for undertaking an appropriate risk assessment? See Section 8, Risk Assessment and Risk Assessment Form;
- Are existing insurance arrangements adequate for the activity/event? See Section 9, Insurance;
- Have leaders been recruited and trained in accordance with National Policy? (See Section 2, Safer Recruitment);
- Have leaders and helpers been DBS checked and are they properly prepared for the activity/event?
- Is there a registration procedure for those who will be present at the event? See Registration & Forms Library;
- If children are taking part, do those with parental responsibility understand the procedures for “dropping off” and “collecting” children?
- Is a consent form required for the activity/event? See Section 10, Capacity and Consent and the Forms Library;
- Are procedures for health & safety in place? See Health & Safety;
- Have you ensured appropriate ratios of adults to children? See Supervision and Ratios;
- Is the activity/event being held in a public place? See Location;
- Are appropriate measures in place if children, young people or adults are to have access to computers as part of the activity/event? See Section 14, IT/Communication Technology/Photography;
- Are the appropriate safeguards in place if photographs are to be taken and consent forms signed? See Section 14, IT/Communication Technology/Photography;
- Is the event to include the Sacrament of Reconciliation? See Section 16, Sacrament of Reconciliation.
A register of those present at each activity/event should be taken and kept. This may not always be practical and should be proportionate. For example, it is important to keep a register for Children’s Liturgy, but it would be impractical to do so for a Christmas Fair.
Registration need not necessarily be intrusive. For example, when children are entering the space provided for Children’s Liturgy during Sunday Mass, they can simply self-register as many children are accustomed to doing at school. The adults present should do the same.
The register for each event should include:
- Date of the activity/event;
- Details of the activity/event;
- Adults Present;
- Children/Young People Present.
See Forms Library.Consent
Health and Safety
The named person responsible for the activity/event must ensure that:
- The premises are appropriate for the event;
- A risk assessment is undertaken, see First Aid and Forms Library and Section 8, Risk Assessment);
- Fire evacuation procedures are explained at the start of the event. Appropriate signage should be in place. If possible, walk through the escape route with those present;
- For residential outings ensure that all children, young people and adults are briefed on arrival as to what to do in the event of a fire including assembly point;
- Ensure all children, young people and adults are aware of who to contact in an emergency;
- Leaders should have access to a full list of all those attending the activity/event in case a roll call is required;
- There should be a designated leader who will oversee health and safety issues. This person must:
- Be familiar with the requirements of health and safety;
- Brief all leaders prior to the activity/event;
- Ensure leaders complete regular head counts;
- In the event of an accident or incident, ensure that an incident report form is completed within 24 hours by the relevant person(s).
See Forms Library.
An accident is defined as an unplanned, unforeseen, unexpected and unintended event, which results in injury to people or damage to property.
An incident is more general and is an event that has an undesirable consequence be it involving physical impact or a ‘near miss’. (See Section 15, Accidents and Emergencies).
General expectations of behaviour should be explained at the start of the event .During the Event
The person responsible for the activity/event should monitor risks throughout the event and take appropriate action if necessary.
The leader should:
- Introduce themselves to the children, young people and adults present;
- Ensure that no unauthorised person can gain access to the activity/event;
- Ensure that arrangements for “dropping off” and “collecting” children, young people and adults are adhered to;
- Allow no child, young person or adults to leave with someone unknown to the leaders.
The activity/event must have a designated and qualified first aid leader who will possess a current certificate of competence to oversee medical issues. Prior to leaving for the outing, the first aid leader must familiarise themselves with the medical information contained in the participants’ consent forms, and meet with all children, young people and adults who have brought prescribed medication with them. The first aid leader will take possession of all medication, recording the times it is to be taken and making the necessary arrangements for it to be administered. Children, young people and adults are not permitted to keep or carry medication, except for inhalers and epipens - reserves of these medications should be held by the first aid leader. All medicines must be kept in a secure locked cabinet. The first aid leader must maintain a record of all medicines issued.
A first aid kit and medical details should be accessible to the leaders at all times. The Health and Safety Executive recommends the following minimum contents for a first-aid box where no special risk has been identified, see First-aid Box, Health and Safety Executive website.
- A leaflet giving general advice on first aid;
- 20 individually wrapped sterile adhesive dressings;
- Two sterile eye pads;
- One large sterile un-medicated wound dressing (approximately 18cm x 18cm);
- Two triangular bandages;
- Two safety pins;
- Individually wrapped moist cleaning wipes;
- A packet of disposable gloves;
- A resusciade (for hygienic mouth to mouth resuscitation) would also be useful.
For the purposes of safeguarding, visitors to church premises include the following:
- Clergy and Religious;
- Parish Staff (e.g. housekeeper, administrative/pastoral workers);
- House-Minders (when priest is away);
- Parish Volunteers;
- Casual workers (e.g. cleaners, gardeners, maintenance);
- All Groups/Clubs that use church premises whether associated with the Church or not.
All visitors must adhere to the safeguarding policies and the Code of Conduct for contact with children, young people and adults, see Section 3, Good Relationships.
All those who work within the presbytery should have clear job descriptions and be recruited in accordance with Church policies. (See Section 2, Safer Recruitment).
The Presbytery has a dual function. It is a private residence and it is used for public functions (e.g. meetings, interviews and pastoral work). These functions should be kept separate.
- Lodgers/tenants, house minders and visitors staying for a substantial period of time:
- Must have suitable references;
- A written agreement should be drawn up as to the expectations of their conduct;
- The Safeguarding Office should be consulted as to whether a DBS check is required. This does not apply to short or occasional visits by friends or family members.
- All visitors must adhere to the Code of Conduct with children, young people and adults, Section 3, Good Relationships.
Where clergy or religious are visiting in a supply capacity, the Supply Priest Policy where appropriate, which includes a Testimonial of Suitability must be followed. Further advice is available from the Bishop/Vicar General/Safeguarding Office.Visitors to Parish Centre, Hall or Grounds
Whenever there are non-parish activities involving children and young people on church premises, the Safeguarding Representative must be informed.
- Where a non-parish group uses church premises on a regular basis:
- The Parish Administrator or Safeguarding Representative must ensure that the group has a Safeguarding Policy in place, including proper recruitment procedures for their leaders and helpers and that references and DBS checks have been obtained;
- Evidence of this must be provided and continued use of the premises is subject to this condition.
- A written agreement should be devised with non-parish groups using church premises (e.g. Keep Fit, Dance Groups, Martial Arts) detailing that:
- They have safeguarding measures in place;
- Their agreement to adhere to these measures.
- When any adult (e.g. children’s entertainer) has contact with children, young people and adults during a single event organised by the parish:
- The Parish Administrator or Safeguarding Representative must ensure that the person responsible for the event manages the situation so that the adult does not have unsupervised contact with children/young people or adults;
- The adult must adhere to the Code of Conduct provided to them.
- If church premises are used on a casual basis for non-parish events that include children, young people or adults (e.g. parties), a written agreement is required that states:
- It is a private booking;
- The adults/parents organising the event will exercise a supervisory function and are responsible for safeguarding the children/young people who attend.
 For groups meeting regularly, it can be helpful to invite the children, young people and adults to draw up their own Code of Conduct (or ‘Rules’). This can help the participants to take responsibility for their conduct and becomes a reference point for the group.
5. Trips Out
This provides guidance and advice for the benefit of parish groups and Church organisations in the planning of outings, day outings and residential events. Examples include:
- Outing to the cinema;
- Day trip to the seaside;
- Youth residential and holidays;
- Children's camps;
It is expected that each Diocese / Religious Congregation / Organisation has its own Health & Safety policy that has been approved by its insurance company and that the requirements of this Chapter are met in full.
Purpose, Policy and Procedure
The following section should be consulted before organising any outings, residential events or such activities.
Preparing for Outings / Residential Outings
Organisation of the outing / residential trip can be shared amongst a small group of people; however one person, the group leader, should have overall responsibility for the planning, supervision and conduct of the event. After due discussion and consultation with other team members, the group leader is responsible for ensuring that all reasonable preparation has been made for the event, and must:
- Ensure that appropriate approval is obtained and a consent form is completed (see Forms Library) with the Parish Priest or leader of organisation;
- Ensure that all leaders for the event have been appointed in accordance with the Safer Recruitment Policies and procedures and that their DBS Disclosures are valid;
- Ensure that there is an appropriate gender balance of leaders to group members;
- Check with the venue to ensure that their policies and procedures can be adhered to (for example, the capacity at the venue is compatible with the numbers attending);
- Ensure that suitable insurance cover for the outing and activities (including high risk activities such as rock climbing / canoeing) are in place prior to leaving;
- Check that the event and transport arrangements are covered by insurance. Insurance should include public liability, personal accident / injury;
- For visits involving an overnight stay, ensure that the residential venue has a current building and fire certificate;
- Ensure that the residential venue can meet the needs of all group members. (See Accessibility);
- Ensure that a programme of activities is prepared prior to leaving;
- Ensure that a risk assessment for the visit is completed and that it is brought to the attention of all leaders, who should also be made aware of their areas of responsibility. (See Section 8, Risk Assessment and the Forms Library);
- All adults wishing to be involved in a residential event must have a specific role, be accountable to the event leader and should have been recruited according to the church’s policy;
- Appoint an event co-leader of the opposite sex for co-educational outings;
- Ensure that any instructors or workshop leaders within the group or at the event venue are suitably qualified for specialised activities;
- Ensure that all leaders are aware of the safeguarding and health and safety procedures relevant to the event;
- Ensure that one leader is trained in first aid;
- Ensure regular and ongoing discussion and consultation takes place with other team leaders;
- Draw up rotas to ensure that sufficient leaders are available so that participants are adequately supervised at all times, see Supervision and Ratios;
- Ensure that all children, young people and adults contact details are available in case of emergency. Details should be kept securely;
- Ensure that the person with parental / carer responsibility is informed of the date and time of the event and is given a contact number and address of the event venue;
- Ensure a system of liaison between the event leader parents / carers;
- Ensure that the person with parental / carer responsibility understands the arrangements for collecting the children, young people and adults at the end of the event;
- Brief the children/young people and adults at the start of the event and wherever possible involve them in setting any general behavioural guidelines;
- Be aware that although mobile phones are useful means of communication, the signal cannot always be relied upon. This should be taken into account when conducting a risk assessment;
- The event leader must ensure that all risk assessments and consent forms travel with the group;
- Call a post-event evaluation meeting within two months of the event, compile a report on the event and make recommendations to aid learning and development.
Health & Safety
Supervision & Ratios
Specialist activities (e.g. abseiling, swimming, canoeing etc.) must always take place under the supervision of suitably qualified staff and explored in the risk assessment. The provider is responsible for the safe running of an activity whilst the group leader and other activity leaders retain responsibility for the children, young people and adults at all times during adventure activities, even when the group is under instruction by a member of the provider's staff.
Any meeting with children, young people and adults must always be held in a public place with a minimum of two adults present.
A public place for the purposes of this policy is defined as an area which is either visually accessible (e.g. through a window) and not behind a closed door or frequented by other people (e.g. staff room / kitchen, sports hall).
It is accepted that unforeseen circumstances (e.g. an accident) may arise whereby it is not always possible to maintain the presence of two adults. For this reason care needs to be taken in the planning stage when selecting an adequate number of leaders and the venue for activity / trip. (See Section 15, Accidents and Emergencies)
If this does occur, the situation must be reported to another leader (where applicable the group leader) and be recorded to safeguard the interests of both the children and adults concerned.
Under no circumstances must a child, young person or an adult be invited to a leader’s home or invited to accompany them anywhere unless the reason for doing so has been agreed in advance with parents / carers.
Information on the following topics can be found in:
- Code of conduct, see Section 3, Good Relationships;
- Discipline, see Section 3, Good Relationships;
- Physical contact - guidance, see Section 3, Good Relationships;
- Bullying, see Section 3, Good Relationships;
- Use of photographs and images, see Section 14, IT/Communication Technology/Photography;
- Computers, see Section 14, IT/Communication Technology/Photography;
- Drugs related incidents, see Section 13, Health Matters;
- Transport, see Section 11, Transport.
Having a suitable ratio of adult leaders is essential in ensuring that appropriate and safe levels of supervision are maintained. Factors to take into consideration in the assessment will include:
- Gender, age and ability of group;
- Additional support or medical needs;
- Nature of activities;
- Experience of adults in off-site supervision;
- Duration and nature of the experience;
- Type of any accommodation;
- Competence of staff;
- Requirements of the organisation/location to be visited;
- Competence and behaviour of participants.
The following guidelines apply to residential outings at night-time, once the children, young people and adults have gone to bed:
- Accommodation must be gender specific and careful consideration should be given when allocating;
- The adults supervising the children, young people and adults must reflect the gender of the group;
- Principles of good practice apply to evening and night time supervision. For this reason, any monitoring arrangement must always involve two adults and no adult should be alone with a child, young person or adult;
- It is unacceptable that one leader shares a bedroom with children, young people or adults. Children and young people may be allocated bedrooms together. This includes year 13 pupils who have passed their 18th birthday. However, it is advisable to group children together within a similar age range. Also, in the case of a child with a profound disability or a specific medical condition, whose parents think that it is necessary for one leader to share with the child in a twin room, special care must be taken. Those with parental responsibility must give specific and detailed permission for this arrangement. In addition, the matter should be referred to the activity leader and the Safeguarding Representative. In cases of any doubt the Safeguarding Representative should refer the matter to the Safeguarding Office for advice;
- Additional leaders should be assigned to assist with supervision on the first and last night and at other times as identified in the risk assessment;
- Leaders must ensure that they have access to any medical records and parental consent form, which should be kept securely;
- There must always be a sufficient number of leaders on duty to supervise the activity and appropriate cover available to supervise the children, young people and adults should the leaders on duty be called away in an emergency e.g. to take a child to hospital;
- Alcohol can only be available to leaders off duty and only in an area designated by the leader. Only social drinking is acceptable and then in moderation. (Consider zero alcohol consumption when away with young children);
- Leaders must only smoke in smoking areas designated by the event leader and not in the presence of children, young people or adults.
A record of the trip must be maintained and is to include those present, the activities undertaken, outcomes and any other significant happenings during the event, should be kept on file.
A sample recording sheet can be found in the Forms Library.
Accident and Emergencies
6. Access to an Independent Person for Children, Young People and Adults
It is vitally important that groups working closely with children, young people and adults develop and promote a culture where they are encouraged to talk about their concerns and experiences to leaders. Children, young people and adults should be reassured that whatever is said will be listened to and taken seriously. Leaders must be encouraged to respond to any safeguarding situation in line with National Safeguarding Policies and procedures.
All children young people and adults should be encouraged to talk to parents, carers or leaders if there is anything worrying them.
Groups and organisations must have in place procedures for dealing with complaints from children, young people and adults who are involved in church activities.
Comments and Complaints
See also Forms Library.
Abuse thrives on secrecy, so one of the best ways to combat it is by ensuring that there is sufficient information available for children, young people and adults, encouraging them to share any concerns they may have. Such information may contain the contact details of an independent person within the parish / diocese or of any other appropriate contacts such as Child Line, NSPCC etc. It is important that this information is age appropriate and specific to their language, culture and learning needs.
All adults working with children, young people and adults should know the name of an individual or organisation with which they could refer a child, young person or adult to discuss their concerns.
Dealing with Concerns and Allegations
For further information, see:
- How to Respond to Concerns About a Child or Young Person;
- How to Respond to Concerns About Adults who may be at Risk of Abuse or Neglect;
7. Outreach - Home Visiting
This section is to follow.
8. Risk Assessment
- Whilst it is not possible to reduce all risks when working with the young or vulnerable it is possible to do all we can to minimise the risks;
- A risk assessment is a written record of the thought processes that have been invested in the planning and preparation of any activity, whatever the perceived risks may be;
- Risk assessments should be completed well before the event/activity and should be approved by the event leader. If in doubt, advice should be sought from the Safeguarding Office.
Risk assessments should:
- Identify risks and hazards both indoors and outdoors, including equipment, materials and procedures;
- Evaluate the risk or hazard and identify who might be put at risk;
- Identify the action to eliminate or minimise the risk;
- Identify the person responsible for taking that action.
The following factors should be taken into consideration:
- The nature of the event/activity taking place;
- The location, routes and modes of transport;
- The competence and experience of event leaders and helpers;
- Whether safer recruitment practice has been followed for all event leaders and helpers;
- The ratio of event/activity leaders and helpers to participants;
- The group members age, ability, fitness, temperament and the suitability of the activity;
- Any specific medical or health needs of participants;
- Any specific needs of event/activity leaders and helpers;
- Contingency and emergency planning.
Frequent visits or regularly repeated activities may not require a full, comprehensive risk assessment on each occasion, see Risk Assessment Form.
Where activities or events of a more specialist nature are being considered e.g. swimming, adventure activities, guidance should be sought form a relevant licensing authority or advisory organisation.
This section provides advice on undertaking, and recording, adequate risk assessment for insurance purposes. Each Diocese will have its own insurance arrangements which this guidance aims to compliment.
Purpose, Policy and Procedure
Key Points for Parish Activities:
- All employees and volunteers participating in the activity / event must have been subject to proper vetting, e.g. references/DBS checks (where appropriate) etc;
- Before hosting an activity, event or taking a trip etc, the parish needs to check that the activity is covered by the diocesan insurance policy;
- Standard parish activities taking place on parish property such as fetes or carol concerts should be covered, but it is always best to check;
- It will usually be a condition of the insurance policy that activities, events and outings are properly risk assessed. This should include a careful check of the location of the event ensuring any hazards are made safe and equipment is tested etc. before the event takes place and should be properly recorded;
- Parishes will certainly need to notify insurers if there will be any unusual or hazardous activities taking place, e.g. rock climbing or fairground rides, or if a trip abroad is planned, because these may require additional insurance cover;
- If a third party is providing a service at the event, e.g. catering or supplying equipment such as a bouncy castle, the parish should ask for evidence of the company’s insurance;
- When outside groups, for example a dance group, martial arts or weightwatchers etc. hire church premises they should have their own insurance cover in place. Groups should show evidence that they have their own Public Liability Insurance. A disclaimer should be provided to the lead person of the activity/event and/or a disclaimer placed in a prominent position stating that the activity/event leader/parents have responsibility for the care of and appropriate behaviour of people present;
- Premises (and fire fighting equipment) should be regularly inspected to assess their condition and suitability. Fire fighting equipment should be in plain sight, readily accessible and clearly labelled;
- Areas must be kept tidy. Any equipment used by a particular group should be stored away neatly or kept in a safe place when the premises are not being used by that group;
- A First Aid Kit fully stocked for use in Public Places must be available, and its whereabouts must be clearly labelled;
- Emergency exits should have clear signage.
10. Capacity and Consent
Decision making is an everyday activity for people of all ages. We value our personal autonomy and as Catholics we also recognise that many aspects of our choice making is guided by the Gospels and the teachings of the Church.
Decision making is a huge area covering everyday choices such as what to wear or where to eat, it also involves major decisions about medical treatment, financial affairs, keeping safe, where to live, who to marry and so on.
Some people because of age, disability or illness may be limited in their ability to make some or any of these choices. This can expose them to potential exploitation, and abuse.
Safe environments means that when such vulnerable people are involved in church activities we are respectful of individuals and take a responsible and proportionate approach to safeguard their interests when decisions seem to be placing a vulnerable person at risk of significant harm.
When working with vulnerable people there are often judgements and balances to be made between:
- Personal autonomy - freedom to make choices;
- Confidentiality- right to privacy and respect of family life;
- The right to be free from abuse and the fear of it;
- The paramountcy principle - the best interests of a child must always take priority.
This is a complex area and the right course of action will depend on the unique characteristics and age of the person involved and their circumstances at a particular time.
If the vulnerable person is thought to be at significant risk and there is reasonable belief that they do not understand the issues then a confidential consultation with a Safeguarding Representative, your Parish Priest or Safeguarding Office is essential to work out the next steps.
Purpose of this Section
This section is intended to outline some important principles and frameworks which will guide leaders of church activities.
This section has 3 subsections
- Capacity & Consent - Children;
- Capacity & Consent - Young People;
- Capacity & Consent - Adults.
Specific consideration of capacity and consent is included in the following sections of the Safe Environment Procedures:
Health Matters / Photography / Good Relationships / Money matters
1. Capacity & Consent - Children
The definition of a child, for legal purposes is anyone who has yet to reach their 18th birthday. This is embodied within the Children Act 1989 and Children Act 2004.
There are some activities within the Church in which children participate e.g. Children’s liturgy, where parents and carers are in the vicinity and exercise parental responsibility by virtue of that proximity.
In these situations no consent from parents is required for the child to participate and the extent and level of that participation is determined by the parent or carer and their child.
There are many activities however where a parent or carer may not be present. In these situations the person with parental responsibility for the child should complete and sign a parental consent form to enable their child to take part (link to parental consent form).
Some specialist events or high risk activities e.g. orienteering, kayaking, climbing etc may require a more specific consent form dependent upon the risk assessment of the event. (See Section 4, Parish Activities and Section 5, Trips Out).
Even when a consent form has been completed, event leaders and those supervising activities must be mindful of each child’s ability in terms of level of participation. Consideration should always be given to age, gender, disability, race, language as well as any other factors including capacity of the child to identify and manage risks.
The purpose of these considerations is to enable the child to play as full and active a part as possible in any activity or event in a way which affords them the highest level of care, love, encouragement and respect.
2. Capacity & Consent - Young People
Whilst legally anyone not having yet reached their 18th birthday is technically a child, young people develop levels of autonomy and capacity to make a wider range of decisions about their own actions as they progress through their teenage years.
Principles about consent and capacity remain (see Children). Event leaders and those supervising activities however should also recognise young people’s rights and capacity to make their own decisions. E.g.:
- It would always be good practice to check that the young person themselves consented to take part in a planned event or activity, whether or not parents had completed a consent form;
- For more routine activities (e.g. attendance at a youth group) a signed parental consent form might be waived if the young person wishes to attend and verbal consent is given by a parent or carer;
- For some young people e.g. those with a significant learning disability the Mental Capacity Act may apply from 16-18 years.
Those responsible for supervising events and activities must be mindful of other aspects of a young person’s ability and capacity to participate which might include, depending on the event or activity, any drug or substance issues, sexual behaviour, risk taking behaviour and so on.
The purpose of the considerations is to enable the young person to play as full and active a part as possible in any activity or event in a way which affords them the highest level of care, love, encouragement and respect.
3. Capacity & Consent - Adults
The legal framework relevant to adults is the Mental Capacity Act 2005/2007, see Code of Practice (Department for Constitutional Affairs).
Applies to 16 year olds and above.The 5 key principles
- Basic assumption that a person has capacity to make the decision;
- You must take all practicable steps to assist the person to make the decision before treating them as being unable to make a decision;
- Unwise decisions do not mean a person lacks capacity to make decisions;
- Any act or decision made under this Act for or on behalf of a person who lacks capacity must be done or made in their best interests;
- Before any action or decision is taken consideration has to be given to whether the purpose for which it is needed can be as effectively achieved in a way that is least restrictive of the person’s rights and freedom of action.
There are many occasions and events in the life of a parish, diocese or religious congregation which require the use of transport.
Any transport provided must meet the needs of all individuals or groups requiring it.
Use of transport must comply with all relevant legal requirements.
Safety must be a primary consideration.
Before the Event
Prior to travelling the event leader must undertake a written risk assessment for the mode of transport being used. The guidance given below can be used in developing the assessment. Once completed the assessment must be brought to the attention of all leaders within the group.
See Accessibility below.
Information on licence requirements for driving minibuses can be found by following this link to Driving a Minibus (Direct Gov Website).
If any individual or member of a group uses a wheelchair, the event leader must ensure that whatever transport is being used has appropriate access and securing facilities. It may be appropriate to use portable ramps.
Further information can be obtained from the Department for Transport, GOV.UK website.
Licences and Permits
The event leader is responsible for ensuring that the driver of any vehicle has the correct entitlement on their license. For drivers of minibuses entitlement can be checked by referring to the GOV.UK website.
The event leader must also ensure that appropriate motor insurance is in force for any vehicle being used and that the drivers conform to the motor insurer’s requirements.
Supervision on Journeys
To ensure the safety of all travellers it is important that appropriate levels of supervision are in place throughout any journey.
- The group leader is responsible for ensuring the group is properly supervised while travelling on whatever vehicle;
- The driver must not be responsible for supervision of children or adults in the vehicle;
- The driver must ensure all passengers are wearing seatbelts before setting off;
- Once the journey has started the supervisor(s) must ensure passengers continue to wear safety belts;
- If the driver considers the behaviour of any passenger is dangerous, he or she should stop as soon as is practicable.
Use of Private Cars
Many events rely on either event leaders and/or parents and volunteers using their own cars. In these circumstances it is the event leader who is responsible for passenger safety by ensuring all vehicles used are roadworthy, and that the appropriate licences and insurance covers are held. Parents and volunteers must be informed that they have a legal responsibility for the safety of children, young people or adults in their cars.
- The driver is responsible for making sure any passengers wear their seatbelts at all times throughout the journey;
- Parental agreement should be obtained for their children to be carried in other parents/volunteers cars;
- All efforts should be made to avoid parents/volunteers transporting the young or vulnerable being in the position of being alone with them;
- Central dropping off points should be considered rather than individual home drops;
- If a situation arises where it is unavoidable for an adult to transport a single child, young person or an adult, the passenger should always travel in the back seat and the event should be reported to the event or group leader and recorded;
- If a driver is receiving mileage expenses they will need to have business insurance cover.
Use of Own Minibus
Some parishes, Religious Orders or Catholic Charities and organisations have their own minibuses. Where these are used they must comply with regulations about construction, fittings and seat belts for all passengers.
The relevant regulations are the minibus (Conditions of Fitness Equipment and Use) Regulations 1977 and the Road Vehicle (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986/51 and 1986/1098 schedule 6.
Further information can be obtained at the Department for Transport, GOV.UK website.
Where it is necessary to hire vehicles, it is the event leader’s responsibility to ensure that coaches or buses are hired from a reputable company. Professional operators of buses and coaches are legally required to be licensed.
- The event leader must check that the operator has the appropriate Public Service Vehicle (PSV) operator’s licence;
- The event leader must ensure appropriate seat belts are available for all passengers;
- Buses, where seat belts are not legally required, are not appropriate for long journeys.
Further information can be obtained at the Department for Transport, GOV.UK website.
Information about legal requirements for travel abroad can be obtained from the Department for Transport, GOV.UK website.
12. Money Matters
All financial matters should be managed in a prudent and transparent way in order to both protect the vulnerable from abuse and those involved in ministry from allegations.
Financial Issues in Adult MinistryFinancial Advice
From time to time those in ministry may be asked to provide assistance to others in respect of regulatory matters. However it should be noted that volunteers or employees lacking appropriate qualifications cannot provide financial advice and should signpost parishioners or others to enable them to identify professional advisors e.g. investments/pensions/investment opportunities etc.
Those visiting the elderly for example, are frequently asked to help others to make sense of or understand financial correspondence or to provide practical assistance with financial administration and benefits eligibility. When someone provides practical assistance in these areas this should be raised at the earliest opportunity through their organisation’s management or with the Safeguarding Representative/Safeguarding Office.Handling Money
Any assistance provided in purchasing goods for others should include the provision of receipts, and ensure all accrued benefits from the activity are handed over to the client e.g. supermarket reward points, buy one get one free goods, lottery tickets winnings etc. Any such activity must be raised through the organisation’s management or with the person to whom they are accountable or with the Safeguarding Representative/Safeguarding Office, recording the amount spent and general nature of the purchase e.g. groceries, utility card etc.
Special care should be taken when providing this service to a client who “lacks capacity.” It is advisable that additional permission is obtained from a family member, friend or advocate to ensure protection both for the client and the person visiting.Right of Attorney
Right of attorney is usually obtained on behalf of a family member or friend who lacks “capacity,” or who may in the future lose capacity to make decisions about financial and personal matters.
It is rarely appropriate for volunteers or employees to assume the right of attorney for clients. Where a client has no immediate relatives or does not wish to grant them power of attorney it is preferable for a solicitor or a trust corporation to be appointed even though that would involve some charging arrangement. Volunteers or employees should never take on this responsibility if the family is antagonistic. If a volunteer or employee is seriously considering taking on this role he or she should consult the Safeguarding Office.Executor
If you are acting as executor then it is likely that your involvement may go on for several months and possibly even years. Part of an executor’s duties includes drawing up some simple accounts providing all the details of how the deceased’s estate has been divided. This information will also be needed to enable any necessary tax return to be completed. As with Right of Attorney above it is preferable then that this function is carried out by a solicitor or trust corporation.Financial Gain
Priests and deacons are entitled to receive appropriate remuneration for their ministry in accordance with canon law. Money which is received by them by way of Mass Offerings and Stole Fees must be handled carefully in accordance with universal and particular law. Unless a gift is clearly given personally to a priest or deacon in the course of ministry, it is regarded as given to the parish and part of parish/Diocesan funds. The same principle applies to bequests. If there is any suspicion of impropriety in the accepting of these gifts or bequests, this may lead to disciplinary action and may result in a safeguarding investigation when it involves an adult.
Lay people involved in any form of pastoral ministry should not receive any material or monetary gain from their ministry. It is inappropriate to take any form of personal payment for services or to benefit from significant gifts from a parishioner while they are alive or from bequests after their death. Receipt of payments or “significant” gifts in the lifetime of a client will result in disciplinary action and, may result in a safeguarding investigation.
It is sometimes the case that bequests are made without the knowledge of the beneficiary. In these cases any volunteer or employee who benefits from the bequest of a parishioner must declare the legacy to their organisation’s management or the local Safeguarding Office. This declaration will not protect the beneficiary from any safeguarding investigation or any dispute over the will which may result. If however there is no declaration made and it subsequently becomes know that a bequest has been received, disciplinary action will be taken.
If a parishioner expresses a wish to make a gift to a person supporting or visiting them then that person should encourage the parishioner to pray for them, their family and the Church instead.
Where a gift is received which it would be churlish to return, such as a box of chocolates or pot plant etc, this should be accepted but declared to the Safeguarding Representative or Parish Priest. Money should never be accepted. Any gift of greater value would be considered “significant.”
The parishioner can make a donation to the Church if they like, as they could to any charity. A receipt acknowledging the donation should always be given to the person making the donation.Key Holding
Work undertaken by SVP members and others in ministry with those in need is to befriend and assist individuals and families who are in need and to engage with them on a person-to-person basis. This is achieved primarily through visits to people in their home or residential establishment where they live.
There will be occasions when either through age, infirmity or other reason that parishioners will want to entrust to SVP members and others in ministry with those in need the keys to their home, in order to facilitate ease of contact. Before agreeing to undertake this responsibility, it must first be discussed with the organisation’s management or Safeguarding Representative and also with extended family members. Details of all discussions and correspondence undertaken must be recorded.
Financial Issues in Children’s/Youth MinistryUndue Influence
Youth workers and Parish Priests should be aware of any young person being overtly generous with their pocket/tuck money. A more vulnerable young person might court popularity by being excessively generous - i.e. regularly buying tuck for others at a youth group session, giving sweets or gifts, or being always ready to buy the McDonalds on trips out. This may be innocent or typical generosity, but could be an example of other young people exercising undue influence.World Youth Day/Lourdes fundraising
Often when parishes are supporting young people to attend events or pilgrimages, the Parish Priest may handle the funds prior to purchasing flights, accommodation etc.
In these cases a separate category should be created in the parish accounts. Receipts should routinely be given for cash handed over by young people or their parents, and detailed records should be maintained cataloguing each young person’s instalments or fundraising activities. Similarly records should be maintained for all purchase or payments made.Pocket Money
On occasion, the youth worker and/or Parish Priest may be asked to hold pocket money for a young person during a residential or day trip. In these cases a central record should be maintained for all monies received, and a corresponding record card should be completed and held by the young person. The cash should be kept in a locked box, all transactions should be supervised by a 3rd party with withdrawals being made only on production of the record card, with the central record being simultaneously updated.Youth Group Funds
Youth groups are likely to handle cash transactions on a regular basis. For example; subscriptions, sale of tuck etc.
In all cases an accurate record should be maintained for monies received and paid out. Receipts should be retained for all purchases. A reasonable “float” may be kept in a locked box for routine purchase/expenses.
Surplus funds should be paid over to the parish, likewise larger purchases should be transacted through the parish accounts. The parish should create a separate category within the parish accounts for this fund.
13. Health Matters
There will be occasions in many gatherings when some people present require assistance with mobility. These may be people attending the event or people organising the event.
It will be important to know who requires such assistance and to establish that they bring their own mobility aids with them: e.g. walking stick, crutches, or wheelchair.
The environment should be safe for all attendees and comply with accessibility regulations.
Anyone assisting with mobility should be aware of their own safety and understand the correct actions to take. For longer events, such as overnight stays those assisting with mobility should have received appropriate training for their role.
A large proportion of the population take regular medication and most of them do not require assistance in administering it to themselves. However in the case of children, or adults with reduced capacity, when the parent/guardian or carer is not going to be present, the organisers will assume a role of supervision. They should consult with the parents or regular carers in order to understand the medication requirements of the individuals. The organisers will also have to ensure that the medication is stored securely and that any emergency drugs - such as the “EpiPen”- are always available. It would be helpful to consult with the Diocesan Pilgrimage groups and Diocesan Youth Organisers for copies of their policies and procedures.
Drug Related Incidents
- ‘Drug’ refers to all drugs including medicines, illegal drugs, volatile substances, alcohol and tobacco;
- Possession or use of illegal or unauthorised drugs during Church activities is unacceptable and will be dealt with firmly, promptly and fairly;
- Legal drugs such as medicines need to be managed appropriately and unauthorised possession of a legal drug is not permitted;
- Participants in events and activities should be made aware, as appropriate, about acceptable behaviour with regard to drugs and how incidents will be managed;
- Medicines and legal drugs are only legitimate in Church activities when they have been appropriately authorised by the event/activity leader. Medicines must be managed systematically and be carefully stored/managed.
In every case of an incident involving drugs, the Church must place the utmost priority on safety, meeting any medical emergencies with first aid and summoning medical help before addressing further issues.
Event/activity leaders should take temporary possession of any substance suspected of being an illegal or unauthorised drug. The substance should be secured as safely as possible.
In any incident involving drugs the event leader must notify the parent or carer and explain how the incident was managed. An Incident Report Form must be completed.
Dependent upon the nature of the incident a range of options are available to the event/activity leader. These include:
- Re-emphasis on behavioural guidelines;
- Drug education;
- Closer supervision;
- Referral to an external agency (in liaison with parent/carer);
- Removal from part of the event/activity;
- Permanent exclusion.
Responses should always aim to provide children and young people with the opportunity to learn from mistakes and develop as individuals.
Health Considerations for Ministry
When appointing a person to carry out a ministry in the Church it is important to consider their physical and mental wellbeing as part of the assessment of their capability to undertake the ministry. This does not mean that a medical examination is required, but some discussion with the individual. E.g. if an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist was visiting a person who lived in a block of flats you would ensure that they could manage the access to the building: or where the ministry involves reading during the liturgy the lectern/microphone should be accessible to the reader.
It is also important to assess whether the person being visited may present with any issues that the minister should know about.
The organiser of the “ministers” should be aware of any developing issues to avoid undue problems occurring.
14. IT/Communication Technology/Photography
The internet, mobile phones, social networking and other interactive services have transformed the way in which we live. The new technologies offer tremendous opportunities to reach, communicate, evangelise and engage with those involved in the Catholic Church including clergy, parishioners and those in our communities who may have an interest in the church.
The Catholic Church in England and Wales is keen to promote the safe, and responsible, use of communication and interactive communication technologies within all church activities.
These guidelines seek to ensure the message of safe and responsible use of communication and interactive technologies is understood and guidelines are followed within the Catholic Church.
As an aspect both of celebration of faith, of personal achievement and evangelisation it has long been common practice to take and display photographs of children and young people on noticeboards, websites and in Diocesan newsletters and newspapers.
We know that the overwhelming majority of images taken are entirely appropriate and are taken in good faith. There are also opportunities however to distort the original intention behind taking such photographs. It is important for this reason to consider potential risks such as:
- The inappropriate use, adaptation or copying of images for use on child abuse website on the internet;
- The identification of children when a photograph is accompanied by significant personal information that will assist a third party in identifying the child. This can lead, and has led, to children being ‘groomed.’
In addition under the Data Protection Act 1998 photographs constitute ‘personal data’ and where it is possible to infer a person’s religious beliefs from that photograph, constitute ‘sensitive personal date.’
In view of that the following guidelines should be followed.
- Ensure you have parental consent to use photographic images of a child or young person if it is to be used in the public domain e.g. parish noticeboard, websites, newsletters or papers;
- Where possible focus on the activity rather than the individual;
- Ensure that all featured in photographs are appropriately dressed;
- Be general in labelling photographs e.g. Communion Group 2013 rather than naming or tagging each child. A list of names may always be provided separately;
- When commissioning photographers ensure they are clear about what is expected by establishing who will hold the recorded images, what they will be used for, where they will be displayed.
- Publish or display photographs with the full name of a person or person’s featured unless you have written consent to do so and have informed parents as to how the image will be used;
- Use an image for something other than which you have obtained permission e.g. publish in a Diocesan or local newspaper when initially intended for parish noticeboard.
Establishing a Website
Websites or social networking profile pages are the centrepiece of any social media activity. The following are recommended guidelines for the establishment of a site. These can apply to a profile or fan page on social networking sites such as Facebook, a blog, a Twitter account, etc.
- Site administrators should be adults;
- There should be at least two site administrators (preferably more) for each site, to allow rapid response and continuous monitoring of the site;
- Do not use personal sites for diocesan or parish programs. Create separate sites for these;
- Passwords and names of sites should be registered in a central location, and more than one adult should have access to this information;
- Be sure those establishing a site know these key rules:
- Abide by Diocesan/parish guidelines;
- Appreciate that even personal communication by church personnel reflects the Church. Practice what you preach;
- Write in the first person. Do not claim to represent the official position of the organisation or the teachings of the Church, unless authorised to do so;
- Identify yourself. Do not use pseudonyms or the name of the parish, program, etc., as your identity, unless authorised to do so;
- Abide by copyright;
- Do not divulge confidential information about others. Nothing posted on the Internet is private;
- Don’t cite others, post photos or videos of them, link to their material, etc. without their permission. Once posted material often becomes property of the site;
- Practice Catholic teaching and morals;
- Consider adding the Click CEOP Help button .
Social Networking Sites
Alongside the very beneficial aspects of modern communication technologies we have to recognise that there are also increased risks to children and young people. We must take all reasonable steps to appropriately manage these risks.
If a group, parish or other body decides that the most effective way of communicating to children or young people is via a social networking site them it is advisable to set up an account in the name of that group, parish or body. It should also be made explicit as to how that site should be used and for what purpose.
The following is best practice in relation to social networking.
- Ensure all the privacy settings are located so that pages are only used for their intended purpose and not for meeting, sharing personal details or having private conversations;
- Nominate a named individual to monitor the networking page regularly and report on any content that causes concern and remove access for anyone behaving inappropriately;
- Make sure that this person is known to all parties using the social network and how they may be contacted in order to pass on any concern;
- Obtain parental consent before access is provided to any child or young person;
- Keep a record of any inappropriate, threatening or offensive material and report to the Safeguarding Coordinator.
- Accept as a friend any child or young person on social networking sites set up within the Church;
- Share your own personal details or social networking sites with any child or young person;
- Make contact with children or young people known through a Church social networking site outside the context of Church ministry or other social networking sites;
- Use internet or web based communication to send personal message not related to Church ministry to a child or young person;
- Engage in any personal communications, ‘banter’ or comments.
Using Texts and Emails with Children & Young People
It is strongly recommended that texting should not be considered as a method of communication between adults involved in Church ministry and children or young people.
If texts and emails are to be used in specific circumstances then:
- Get signed consent from parents to allow use of these methods of communication;
- Explain to parents the purpose and method of this, who may communicate with their son or daughter and what that communication is restricted to;
- Only use group texts or emails and always copy parents in;
- Ensure that all such communications are strictly about specific aspects of Church related activity, such as change of date, time or venue.
- Use texts or emails for personal conversation, sending pictures or jokes or other items of a personal nature;
- Respond to emails from young people other than those directly related to Church related activity. Advise the Parish Safeguarding Representative or Safeguarding Coordinator if you receive any inappropriate texts or emails.
Access to Computers - Children and Young People
Where children and young people have access to computers as part of Church activities, the event leader has a duty to ensure that:
- Measures are in place to ensure that the likelihood of children and young people accessing inappropriate materials is reduced e.g. parental controls and software to filter out internet material;
- Children and young people are aware that their personal details e.g. last name, address, school, passwords, e-mail address and telephone numbers are private and should not be disclosed unless approval is given by the event leader.
- Children and young people know that they should never send photographs and should be wary of chat rooms;
- Children and young people are aware that they should advise a leader about any e-mails or anything on line that makes them feel uncomfortable or bothers them;
- Children and young people are aware that they should advise a leader and their parent/carer of a request to meet up with someone they have met on line and not to make plans to do so without alerting an adult and never go alone to such planned meetings;
- Children and young people are advised of a code of conduct for using chat rooms.
A sample code is CHAT
|C||= Careful - People online might not always be who they say they are.|
|H||= Hang - Hang on to your personal information. Never give out your home address or other information.|
|A||= Arranging - Arranging to meet can be dangerous. Never arrange to meet someone unless you are sure who they are.|
|T||= Tell - Tell your friends or an adult if you find something that makes you feel uncomfortable.|
Reporting and Monitoring
- Parishes and Dioceses should appoint appropriate adults to monitor the content of their websites;
- Children and young people should be advised to always tell an adult they trust about communications that make them feel uncomfortable or where they have been asked to keep communication secret;
- Any discovery of inappropriate use (of a safeguarding nature) of social networking sites, computers, email or texting should be reported to the Parish Safeguarding Representative or Safeguarding Coordinator;
- Church personnel must report unofficial sites that carry the Diocesan or parish logo to the Diocesan Communications Office or Parish Priest. It is important that the owner (the Diocese or the parish) is able to protect its identity and prevent unwanted publications. Any misinformation found on a site, such as Wikipedia, should also be reported to the Communications Officer.
Useful Links and Resources
The UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) is a voluntary organisation chaired by Ministers from the Department for Education and the Home Office. UKCCIS brings together over 180 organisations and individuals from government, industry, law enforcement, academia, charities and parenting groups. Some of the organisations UKCCIS works with include: Cisco, Apple, Sony, Research in Motion, the four largest internet service providers, Facebook and Microsoft.
The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) has numerous resources for parents and carers and children using the internet, see also Think U Know, CEOP website.
The Catholic Youth Work website has detailed guidelines on the use of social networking sites and they can be found under resources for youth workers.
 The CEOP help button gives access to help on viruses, hacking, online bullying and enables reporting of people acting inappropriately online.
15. Accidents and Emergencies
Principle and Purpose
All children, young people or adults participating in parish or other types of Church events and activities should expect and receive the highest level of care, love, encouragement and respect.
This flows from the fact that we are all made in the image of God and the Church’s common belief in the dignity and uniqueness of every human life.
Whilst every reasonable step should be taken in organising and arranging activities and events to ensure all participants are kept safe and enabled to enjoy the occasion, it is not realistic to foresee all possible accidents and emergencies.
This section represents procedures to be followed in the event of unforeseen circumstances.
Missing Children or Young People
When there is a concern that a child or young person may be missing, the event leader must arrange an initial search to establish if the child is in the vicinity - this should only be conducted if it is safe to do so and be dependent upon the circumstances.
If an initial search is not the appropriate action or the concern remains the event leader must:
- Ensure the wellbeing of the remaining children; make sure that all are accounted for and properly/adequately supervised;
- Be mindful of the circumstances - the time of year; location; weather conditions; time of day (dusk etc.); age and vulnerability of the child. It is important to take prompt action and avoid panic;
- Contact the Police without delay;
- The responsibility for conducting enquiries and a proper search rests with the Police - they have the experience, knowledge and resources. Their involvement should be considered at the earliest opportunity as the first hour can be vitally important and a rapid response essential;
- When the Police are contacted ensure that the parent/carers contact details are readily available as it is their responsibility to make contact with the parent/carer. Be prepared to assist with information that will help with the enquiries:
- Name, age, description of the child/children;
- When and where last seen and by whom?
- Any known reason for their absence? Is the absence out of character?
- Any known places to be searched, people to be contacted?
- Any known medical conditions or medication required?
- Further assistance should only be offered to the Police after the remaining children's welfare has been secured.
Accident and Illness
In order to respond to accident or illness the designated leader responsible for overseeing medical issues must ensure:
- All relevant emergency telephone numbers are clearly displayed around the event venue;
- Prompt assessment of the illness/injury and appropriate action is taken. First Aid should be given, by qualified personnel if available;
- Relevant staff at the event venue should be informed as soon as possible;
- The relevant medical form(s) must be taken with the child/young person to the GP or hospital;
- Parents/carers must be contacted as soon as possible following the incident unless the circumstances require the intervention of the Police, in which case see Procedures for Major Incidents;
- Any Health and Safety issues must be recorded and any remedial action taken as appropriate.
An Incident Report Form can be found in the Forms Library and a copy of this must be forwarded to the Safeguarding Coordinator.
Procedures for Major Incidents:
- The designated leader's responsibilities are primarily to supervise and manage the children and young people. If safe to do so move the children and adults from the scene to a place of safety;
- As soon as it is safe to do so, contact the appropriate emergency service i.e. Police, Fire or Ambulance by calling 999. Follow the directions of any emergency service personnel;
- Be prepared to give as much detail as possible of the location; nature of the incident; an estimate of the number of casualties (if known); any potential hazards. Be prepared to remain on the phone - you may be a useful link until the emergency service crews arrive;
- Ensure emergency first aid treatment is given by qualified personnel present;
- Take a roll call of all children/young people and leaders present at the time of the incident. Try to locate them only if it is safe to do so. If not, inform the emergency services, when they arrive, of how many people are missing, their descriptions and likely location;
- Depending on the nature and scale of the incident the Police may set up a Casualty Bureau to handle information on casualties and to filter/manage calls from concerned relatives and friends. Be ready to provide any necessary details to the Casualty Bureau;
- It is the responsibility of the Police to inform the parents/carers of any victims. Initially, they will not contact parents /carers of those uninjured or safe. If it is safe to do so and there is access to a telephone, contact parents via the system of liaison between the event and the parents established in the planning of the event. It will be important to take the advice of the emergency services regarding arrangements for collection. Parents may not be able to get to the scene;
- If it is safe and practicable to do so the designated leader or another leader should make efforts to monitor the location of children and young people if they are moved from the scene;
- Notify the relevant church authorities who will notify the relevant Communication Officer at an appropriate time.
Procedures for fire safety:
- All leaders must be familiar with the fire regulations and fire-fighting equipment for the event venue;
- Leaders will ensure that all children/young people know where the appropriate fire exits, alarms and assembly points are and are given instructions on what to do if the alarm sounds;
- All leaders must know the whereabouts of the nearest telephone;
- Children/young people must not use fire-fighting equipment;
- In the event of a fire alarm being raised, evacuate the building(s), move to the appropriate assembly points and take a role call of those present;
- Contact the Fire Brigade or activate any automatic fire alarms if available. Be prepared to give details of the location; the nature of the incident; number of buildings/people involved and any potential hazards;
- Consider undertaking regular fire drills to ensure that leaders and children become familiar with the procedures, the location of the assembly points and any action to be taken.
16. Sacrament of Reconciliation
All children, young people and adults must be enabled to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation in a way which is both in accordance with the nature of Sacramental Confession and respects their right to enjoy the highest level of care, protection, love, encouragement and respect.
Celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation
Children and young people should be able to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation in a way that is both in accordance with the nature of Sacramental Confession and offers protection to both themselves and the confessor. It must afford both protection and privacy.
A variety of means can be adopted to achieve this goal. These are:
- Use of the traditional confessional box where there is a fixed grill or a separate entrance for the Priest and penitent;
- An area where either the penitent or the priest is within sight, although not within hearing of others;
- Behind a "frosted" screen. It should be in a location where other adults are present although these adults should not be behind the screen with the penitent and the Priest. This will be required when a deaf child is celebrating the Sacrament so that their conversation cannot be observed.
When deciding which approach is adopted, consideration should be given to the child's needs, wishes and feelings; e.g. older children may wish to use a traditional confessional box as opposed to celebrating the sacrament face-to-face. The penitent is free to exercise his personal choice. Whatever the choice, it must be in accordance with the principle of taking all reasonable steps to create a safe environment.A priest hearing a Confession must take care that he does not confirm a mistaken sense of responsibility in an individual who has experienced abuse. He should also be aware that the disclosure of maltreatment and/or abuse during the Sacrament of Reconciliation raises safeguarding issues.