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VIP World Safeguarding Policy

Last update: 19/04/2021

Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to protect people, particularly children, at risk adults and beneficiaries of assistance, from any harm that may be caused due to their coming into contact with VIP World Services. This includes harm arising from:

  • The conduct of staff or personnel associated with VIP World Services
  • The design and implementation of VIP World Services’s programmes and activities

The policy lays out the commitments made by VIP World Services, and informs staff and associated personnel [See ‘Scope’ for definition of associated personnel]of their responsibilities in relation to safeguarding.

This policy does not cover:

  • Sexual harassment in the workplace – this is dealt with under VIP World Services’s Anti Bullying and Harassment Policy [Some NGOs are now including workplace bullying and harassment in their safeguarding portfolio, as it relates to harm caused by coming into contact with our staff or programmes. However accompanying procedures for dealing with workplace bullying and harassment are likely to be different, due to legal and statutory differences in handling workplace incidents].
  • Safeguarding concerns in the wider community not perpetrated by VIP World Services or associated personnel.

What is safeguarding?

In the UK, safeguarding means protecting peoples' health, wellbeing and human rights, and enabling them to live free from harm, abuse and neglect [NHS ‘What is Safeguarding? Easy Read’ 2011]

In our sector, we understand it to mean protecting people, including children and at risk adults, from harm that arises from coming into contact with our staff or programmes.

Further definitions relating to safeguarding are provided in the glossary below.

Scope

  • All staff contracted by VIP World Services.
  • Associated personnel whilst engaged with work or visits related to VIP World Services, including but not limited to the following: consultants; volunteers; contractors; programme visitors including journalists, celebrities and politicians.

Policy Statement

VIP World Services believes that everyone we come into contact with, regardless of age, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation or ethnic origin has the right to be protected from all forms of harm, abuse, neglect and exploitation. VIP World Services will not tolerate abuse and exploitation by staff or associated personnel.

This policy will address the following areas of safeguarding [as appropriate]: child safeguarding, adult safeguarding, and protection from sexual exploitation and abuse. These key areas of safeguarding may have different policies and procedures associated with them (see Associated Policies).

VIP World Services commits to addressing safeguarding throughout its work, through the three pillars of prevention, reporting and response.

Prevention

VIP World Services responsibilities

VIP World Services will:

  • Ensure all staff have access to, are familiar with, and know their responsibilities within this policy
  • Design and undertake all its programmes and activities in a way that protects people from any risk of harm that may arise from their coming into contact with VIP World Services. This includes the way in which information about individuals in our programmes is gathered and communicated
  • Implement stringent safeguarding procedures when recruiting, managing and deploying staff and associated personnel
  • Ensure staff receive training on safeguarding at a level commensurate with their role in the organisation
  • Follow up on reports of safeguarding concerns promptly and according to due process

Staff responsibilities

Child safeguarding

VIP World Services staff and associated personnel must not:

  • Engage in sexual activity with anyone under the age of 18
  • Sexually abuse or exploit children 
  • Subject a child to physical, emotional or psychological abuse, or neglect 
  • Engage in any commercially exploitative activities with children including child labour or trafficking

Adult safeguarding

VIP World Services staff and associated personnel must not:

  • Sexually abuse or exploit at risk adults
  • Subject an at risk adult to physical, emotional or psychological abuse, or neglect

Protection from sexual exploitation and abuse

VIP World Services staff and associated personnel must not:

  • Exchange money, employment, goods or services for sexual activity. This includes any exchange of assistance that is due to beneficiaries of assistance
  • Engage in any sexual relationships with beneficiaries of assistance, since they are based on inherently unequal power dynamics

Additionally, VIP World Services staff and associated personnel are obliged to:

  • Contribute to creating and maintaining an environment that prevents safeguarding violations and promotes the implementation of the Safeguarding Policy
  • Report any concerns or suspicions regarding safeguarding violations by an VIP World Services staff member or associated personnel to the appropriate staff member

Enabling reports

VIP World Services will ensure that safe, appropriate, accessible means of reporting safeguarding concerns are made available to staff and the communities we work with.

Any staff reporting concerns or complaints through formal whistleblowing channels (or if they request it) will be protected by VIP World Services’s Disclosure of Malpractice in the Workplace (Whistleblowing) Policy.

VIP World Services will also accept complaints from external sources such as members of the public, partners and official bodies.

How to report a safeguarding concern

Staff members who have a complaint or concern relating to safeguarding should report it immediately to their Safeguarding Focal Point [as appropriate] or line manager. If the staff member does not feel comfortable reporting to their Safeguarding Focal Point or line manager (for example if they feel that the report will not be taken seriously, or if that person is implicated in the concern) they may report to any other appropriate staff member. For example, this could be chief executive or a member of the operations team.

Contact details:

Response

VIP World Services will follow up safeguarding reports and concerns according to policy and procedure, and legal and statutory obligations (see Procedures for reporting and response to safeguarding concerns in Associated Policies).

VIP World Services will apply appropriate disciplinary measures to staff found in breach of policy.

VIP World Services will offer support to survivors of harm caused by staff or associated personnel, regardless of whether a formal internal response is carried out (such as an internal investigation). Decisions regarding support will be led by the survivor.

Confidentiality

It is essential that confidentiality is maintained at all stages of the process when dealing with safeguarding concerns. Information relating to the concern and subsequent case management should be shared on a need to know basis only, and should be kept secure at all times.

Associated policies

  • Code of Conduct
  • Anti Bullying and Harassment policy
  • Disclosure of Malpractice in the Workplace (Whistle blower) policy
  • Child Safeguarding policy
  • Adult Safeguarding policy
  • PSEA (Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by staff) policy
  • Complaints Policy
  • Procedures for reporting and response to safeguarding concerns
  • Procedures for safeguarding in staff recruitment
  • Other policies as appropriate

Safeguarding Measures - Emergency Protocols for Travel Hands

The following sections provide protocols to the volunteers and VIP participating in the Travel Hands service.

How do volunteers and Visually Impaired People (VIP) prevent from going to the wrong meet up point? 

Always double-check before the journey in Google Maps about the starting point and whether the starting point and ending point of the journey have a time reference similar to the one we shared with you.

What can volunteers and VIP do if either of them doesn't recognise the end destination?

In case either of the party doesn’t recognize the end destination try to understand with them whether the problem is the specific point in which you are ending your journey or if you got to the wrong location.

Whenever possible ask the VIP whether they can sense how to proceed their journey autonomously or if they would like to be guided to a specific place.

In case you cannot find an agreement on the end destination please don’t hesitate to call us and we will help you sort out the situation.

What is a volunteer supposed to do if a VIP offers them money for an extra favour or to be exclusive in helping them?

Volunteers are strictly prescribed to adhere to no exclusive activities for the VIP or take any kind of monetary benefit from them. We explicitly ask VIP not to do any of these requests and for the sake of protecting volunteers from carrying out government regulated work that requires certain certifications and security checks. We also want both parties to avoid any situation of discomfort or to find oneself in a position of danger.

Please don’t forget to report such behaviour as it is considered a breach of the code of conduct that can negatively affect the service we provide for both, volunteers and VIP.

What should volunteers or VIP do if either asks the other to go inside their home?

Politely decline the offer as Travel Hands cannot support you in case any difficulty arises in private premises. For this reason, we kindly ask you to avoid going inside of private premises and remain in a public space. This will ensure your safety and security and will prevent any undesired situation or claim.

What to do if a volunteer or a VIP feels harassed by the other?

Harassment is when someone behaves in a way which makes you feel distressed, humiliated or threatened.

Examples of harassment include:

  • Unwanted phone calls, letters, emails or visits.
  • Abuse and bullying online.
  • Stalking.
  • Verbal abuse and threats.
  • Smashing windows or using dogs to frighten you.

If you feel it’s a situation of minor harassment or you’re unsure whether it has been accidental, please communicate your discomfort to the other party and tell them to abstain from this kind of behaviour.

If you’re being harassed, you can contact us right away and if the situation is really out of control, then contact the police. If you think you’re being harassed because of your disability, race, religion, gender identity or sexual orientation, you can report the harassment by contacting us right away.

In any case, whether you consider it to be an incident or voluntary behaviour, you should report to us so that we can monitor the situation and take actions such as banning the person from the service and prevent similar situations from ever happening again.

These guidelines are valid also for you, so avoid creating a situation that could be considered as harassment.

What to do if a volunteer feels sexually harassed by a VIP?

Sexual harassment is unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature which:

  • Violates your dignity.
  • Makes you feel intimidated, degraded or humiliated.
  • Creates a hostile or offensive environment.

You don’t need to have previously objected to someone's behaviour for it to be considered unwanted.

Sexual harassment can include:

  • Sexual comments or jokes.
  • Physical behaviour, including unwelcome sexual advances, touching and various forms of sexual assault.
  • Displaying pictures, photos or drawings of a sexual nature.
  • Sending messages with sexual content.

Whether you think the nature of this harassment has been voluntary or not always:

  • Try to remain calm.
  • Communicate the unwanted nature of their behaviour.
  • Communicate your discomfort.
  • Communicate them to stop immediately.
  • Report the incident to us.

In case you feel threatened and their behaviour doesn’t change, or you think is unacceptable, don’t hesitate to call the police and report them.

How can a volunteer and a VIP be sure whether it is legal to meet strangers and which are the government regulations?

Travel Hands will provide regular updates on the latest UK Government policies regarding COVID-19 and social distancing restrictions.

How is the safety ensured that the participants are not walking with someone that may have COVID-19?

We cannot be completely sure whether someone has COVID-19 but we ask both you and VIP’s to fill in a form before any journey. The form helps us to understand whether one is experiencing any symptoms or has been in contact with people who tested positive. In this scenario, we will ask either of the parties to abstain from using Travel Hands and to test themselves.

What to do if a volunteer and VIP argue or have a conflict?

As in any other situation, arguments can arise. Please stay calm. Express your discomfort about the argument and tell them you prefer not to talk about this anymore.

Even if you feel nervous in a situation or feel discomfort during the journey, please try to bring the journey to completion or reach out to us in case you think you are not able to complete your journey. If you think this matter can wait, report what happened so we can proceed to contact both of the parties and find a feasible solution.

What happens if someone injures themselves? Do you have insurance in place?

We are not liable to pay for any medical expenses as a result of your injury while you engage in the journeys or activities with Travel Hands.

CRIME

How can I be best prepared in case of street crimes?

Street crime is often opportunistic, so making yourself less of a target, moving with purpose and being aware of your surroundings will go a long way to keeping you safe. Here’s where you’ll discover more tips on how to stay safe and feel more confident when out and about.

  • Be prepared. Plan your route in advance. Carry a charged mobile phone and some cash, and tell someone where you’re going.
  • Be assertive. From the moment you step out onto the street in the morning, look assertive and act and walk with confidence. This will always make you appear in control and much less vulnerable.
  • Be aware. Using a mobile phone, whether making a call or texting, wearing a hood or listening to loud music, all affect your awareness of your surroundings.
  • Trust your instinct. Try to avoid walking alone at night in places such as parks and side streets or any unfamiliar environment. If you do have to walk, stick to busy places where there is a lot of activity, CCTV and good lighting.
  • Be vigilant. Alcohol and drugs will reduce reaction times and inhibitions, which makes it harder to assess risks and decide how to deal with them.

Personal Robbery

If you're threatened with violence, don’t risk your personal safety. Property can be replaced, you can’t.

Knowing how to respond to a violent situation requires split-second decision making and presence of mind – not always easy. However, we’ve compiled a list of things you should do in the highly unlikely event that you find yourself in a violent situation.

It’s important to never lose sight of the fact that your personal safety is the most important thing. Your belongings can be replaced but you can’t. So, when responding to a violent situation, please try to remember the following:

  • Trust your instincts and if you think a situation is getting worse, try not to get involved.
  • Look for a way to leave.
  • If you’re in a building with security personnel, tell them immediately about what is happening.
  • Put distance between yourself and the other person.
  • If you are able to, call 999.
  • If you’re unable to call the police during the incident, then call as soon as you can.

If it comes to the worst, you are entitled to defend yourself using reasonable force, but you may be asked to account for and justify any action you take.

MEDICAL EMERGENCY

What to do in case a VIP or volunteer has an unexpected health issue?

Someone Faints

If they faint, try to keep calm, if you can, lay them on their back and raise their legs. Usually, the person who has fainted will wake up within 20 seconds.

Call 999 if someone faints and they:

  • Cannot be woken up after 1 minute.
  • Have severely hurt themselves from a fall.
  • Are shaking or jerking because of a seizure of fit.

Someone has a seizure

If you see someone having a seizure or fit, there are some simple things you can do to help. You should call an ambulance if you know it's their first seizure or it's lasting longer than 5 minutes.

It might be scary to witness, but do not panic.

If you're with someone having a seizure:

  • Only move them if they're in danger – such as near a busy road or hot cooker.
  • Cushion their head if they're on the ground.
  • Loosen any tight clothing around their neck – such as a collar or tie to – aid breathing.
  • When their convulsions stop, turn them so they're lying on their side – read more about the recovery position.
  • Stay with them and talk to them calmly until they recover.
  • Note the time the seizure starts and finishes.

Do not put anything in their mouth, including your fingers. They should not have any food or drink until they fully recover.

Dial 999 and ask for an ambulance if:

  • It's the first time someone has had a seizure.
  • The seizure lasts for more than 5 minutes.
  • The person does not regain full consciousness, or has several seizures without regaining consciousness.
  • The person is seriously injured during the seizure.

People with epilepsy do not always need to go to the hospital every time they have a seizure. Some people with epilepsy wear a special bracelet or carry a card to let medical professionals and anyone witnessing a seizure know they have epilepsy.

The charity Epilepsy Action has more information on seizures that last longer than 5 minutes.

If you see someone having a seizure, you may notice things that could be useful for the person or their doctor to know:

  • What were they doing before the seizure?
  • Did the person mention any unusual sensations, such as an odd smell or taste?
  • Did you notice any mood change, such as excitement, anxiety or anger?
  • What brought your attention to the seizure? Was it a noise, such as the person falling over, or body movements, such as their eyes rolling or head turning?
  • Did the seizure occur without warning?
  • Was there any loss of consciousness or altered awareness?
  • Did the person's colour change? For example, did they become pale, flushed or blue? If so, where – the face, lips or hands?
  • Did any parts of their body stiffen, jerk or twitch? If so, which parts were affected?
  • Did the person's breathing change?
  • Did they perform any actions, such as mumble, wander about or fumble with clothing?
  • How long did the seizure last?
  • Did the person lose control of their bladder or bowels?
  • Did they bite their tongue?
  • How were they after the seizure?
  • Did they need to sleep? If so, for how long?

You can watch videos of people talking about having epileptic seizures on healthtalk.org.

Someone has a heart attack:

Someone having a heart attack may:

  • Have crushing pain in the centre of their chest, that may spread to their jaw, and down one or both arms.
  • Be breathless or gasping for breath.
  • Be sweating profusely.
  • Experience pain similar to indigestion.
  • Collapse without warning.
  • Complaint of dizziness.
  • Have pale skin and their lips may have a blue tinge.
  • Have a rapid, weak or irregular pulse.
  • Have a feeling of impending doom.

Call 999 or 112 for emergency help straight away and tell them you think someone is having a heart attack.

Help move the casualty into a comfortable position. The best position is on the floor, with their knees bent and their head and shoulders supported.

  • You could place cushions behind them or under their knees.Give them one aspirin tablet (300mg) and ask them to chew it slowly.
  • Do not give aspirin to the casualty if they are under 16 or if they are allergic to it.

Ask the casualty to take their own angina medication, if they have some.Keep monitoring the casualty’s level of response until emergency help arrives.If they become unresponsive at any point, prepare to start CPR.

TERRORISM

If you suspect any acts of terrorism, follow the advice of the National Police Chiefs’ Council: Run, Hide, Tell. You should also take steps before, during and after an attack:

Before a terrorist attack:

  • Be vigilant. Terrorist attacks usually happen in public places. Keep a watch for suspicious behaviour, vehicles or packages.
  • If you have any fears or suspicions, tell the police. You can call the confidential Police Anti-Terrorism Hotline on 0 800 789 321.
  • When you’re in buildings and on public transport, make sure you know where the emergency exits are.

During an incident:

  • Find the safest way to leave the area. Move as quickly and calmly as you can.
  • If there’s a fire, stay low to the floor and exit as quickly as possible. Cover your nose and mouth with a wet cloth if you can. If a door is hot to the touch, don’t open it.
  • If there’s an explosion outside a building, stay inside. Keep away from windows, lifts and outside doors in case there’s another bomb nearby.
  • If you saw the explosion or any suspicious behaviour, tell the police.

After an incident:

  • Help others with first aid if it’s safe to do so.
  • Tell the police if you saw anything that might be useful.
  • If you’re concerned about a loved one, contact the police.
  • You could be suffering from shock but not realise it. See a doctor as soon as possible.

Learn first aid so you can help to deal with emergencies such as strokes, choking and burns.

Get advice on how to provide emotional support in a crisis and help people in distress.

Glossary of Terms

Beneficiary of Assistance

Someone who directly receives goods or services from VIP World Services’s programme. Note that misuse of power can also apply to the wider community that the VIP World Services serves, and also can include exploitation by giving the perception of being in a position of power.

Child

A person below the age of 18.

Harm

Psychological, physical and any other infringement of an individual’s rights.

Psychological harm

Emotional or psychological abuse, including (but not limited to) humiliating and degrading treatment such as bad name calling, constant criticism, belittling, persistent shaming, solitary confinement and isolation.

Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA)

The term used by the humanitarian and development community to refer to the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse of affected populations by staff or associated personnel. The term derives from the United Nations Secretary General’s Bulletin on Special Measures for Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (ST/SGB/2003/13).

Safeguarding

In the UK, safeguarding means protecting peoples' health, wellbeing and human rights, and enabling them to live free from harm, abuse and neglect [NHS ‘What is Safeguarding? Easy Read’ 2011] our sector, we understand it to mean protecting people, including children and at risk adults, from harm that arises from coming into contact with our staff or programmes. One donor definition is as follows:

Safeguarding means taking all reasonable steps to prevent harm, particularly sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment from occurring; to protect people, especially vulnerable adults and children, from that harm; and to respond appropriately when harm does occur.

This definition draws from our values and principles and shapes our culture. It pays specific attention to preventing and responding to harm from any potential, actual or attempted abuse of power, trust, or vulnerability, especially for sexual purposes.

Safeguarding applies consistently and without exception across our programmes, partners and staff. It requires proactively identifying, preventing and guarding against all risks of harm, exploitation and abuse and having mature, accountable and transparent systems for response, reporting and learning when risks materialise. Those systems must be survivor-centred and also protect those accused until proven guilty.

Safeguarding puts beneficiaries and affected persons at the centre of all we do.

Sexual abuse

The term ‘sexual abuse’ means the actual or threatened physical intrusion of a sexual nature, whether by force or under unequal or coercive conditions.

Sexual exploitation

The term ‘sexual exploitation’ means any actual or attempted abuse of a position of vulnerability, differential power, or trust, for sexual purposes, including, but not limited to, profiting monetarily, socially or politically from the sexual exploitation of another. This definition includes human trafficking and modern slavery.

Survivor

The person who has been abused or exploited. The term ‘survivor’ is often used in preference to ‘victim’ as it implies strength, resilience and the capacity to survive, however it is the individual’s choice how they wish to identify themselves.

At risk adult

Sometimes also referred to as vulnerable adults. A person who is or may be in need of care by reason of mental or other disability, age or illness; and who is or may be unable to take care of him or herself, or unable to protect him or herself against significant harm or exploitation.