Our approach to safeguarding children and adults
Plan International UK exists to help children and young people, and we therefore take their safeguarding very seriously.
A sad reality is that many children worldwide are at risk from abuse and exploitation, and can inadvertently be put at greater risk through inadequate or inconsistent policy and practice. Adults as well as children are at risk of abuse and exploitation and this includes adults working for Plan International.
We have well established systems and policies, including training for all our employees, to ensure that we do everything we can to safeguard the children and young people we work with, and that we provide a safe working environment for everyone.
Our Code of Conduct sets out clear expectations for everyone; all employees and volunteers confirm that they will abide by these standards and understand that action will be taken if they don’t.
They also have access to an independent whistleblowing service which reinforces internal routes for reporting any concerns.
Our Safeguarding Children and Young People policy lays out guidelines and procedures for the protection of children through any area of our work to ensure:
- All who work for and engage with us are skilled, confident, understand, and are well supported in meeting their responsibilities to safeguard children and young people from violence, and engage positively with them in ways that enhance the achievement of our Purpose.
- We have in place procedures to prevent and deal with the actions/behaviour of employees, volunteers or other associates or us as an organisation that result in violence against a child or young person and/or places them at risk of the same.
- Children and young people we work with are aware of our responsibilities to prevent and respond to any harm against them arising from actions and behaviours of our employees, volunteers or other associates, and the routes for reporting such incidents.
We promote children’s rights to protection in the countries we work in, by supporting interventions to tackle children’s vulnerabilities to the risks of harm such as: female genital cutting, child trafficking, natural hazards and man-made disasters, violence in schools and at home, child labour and early marriage, social exclusion and discrimination, and lack of care and a supportive environment.
We know that safeguarding can only be effective if there is effective oversight and regular review of systems and policies to ensure they are working in practice.
Our Safeguarding Oversight Group is responsible for ensuring that we have a culture of accountability and continuous improvement with regard to safeguarding, and reports regularly to our directors and trustees.
- A designated Board Member is assigned the responsibility of ensuring safeguarding is effective and is considered in all Board decisions.
- There is an internal Child Safeguarding Focal Point key contact.
- All Board members, and relevant employees, and volunteers, and where appropriate partners/suppliers, must obtain Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) clearance. Clearance is a condition of continued employment or association.
- Plan International UK staff, along with long-term volunteers, undergo formal safeguarding training covering their responsibilities and how to respond and report any concerns regarding safeguarding of children or adults.
- Children’s participation in our advocacy, communication and marketing work will prioritise their best interests and their protection from unintended harm above all else.
- Some Plan International UK staff and volunteers work and/or communicate directly with children in the UK and overseas and have access to children’s contact details. They may sometimes be solely responsible for groups of children. In this instance, staff must ensure that the young people they are working with and their parents or guardians are familiar with Plan International UK’s safeguarding approach and have given their consent, fully understanding what they are committing to.
- By the nature of our work we take, hold and pass on details and images of children and other community members. We are responsible for ensuring that data and images are appropriate and are held safely.
- To ensure we do not put children at risk through contact with people who do not work for Plan International UK, we retain the right to turn down requests to support Plan International UK at our discretion. We consult with the police if we have any serious doubts about a specific individual/organisation.
- We require supporters visiting communities or those whom we put into direct contact with children to obtain a background check from the DBS via Plan International UK.
- We screen all communications from sponsors to sponsored children for any inappropriate written or visual material. Where the sponsor writes in a child’s local language not spoken at Plan International UK, local colleagues are asked to carefully check the content.
- We check that letters forwarded to children do not contain sponsors’ contact details. This could enable direct, unregulated and possibly inappropriate contact between sponsors and sponsored children. Where relevant we return correspondence to sponsors explaining our concerns and actions.
- Any concerns are referred to the Child Safeguarding Focal Point who liaises with any appropriate external bodies.
Reporting and responding
- All staff have a responsibility to consider and help minimise safeguarding risks.
- We ensure that safeguarding is mainstreamed in all projects supported by Plan International UK.
- Our projects aim to promote social inclusion and protection of the most marginalised and most at risk.