If you are starting or joining an Inclusive Neighbourhoods initiative you should consider how you will keep yourself, and any vulnerable people involved, safe. This is known as ‘safeguarding’ and this webpage will give you some tips about how to do this.
WHAT IS SAFEGUARDING?
Safeguarding is about keeping people safe from harm, especially those who may be at risk because of vulnerabilities like social isolation, age or disability. Safeguarding allows a person to access the help and information they need in a safe environment and empowers them to make their own decisions. Communities have a part to play in safeguarding by preventing, detecting and reporting potential and actual harm.
WHY IS SAFEGUARDING IMPORTANT?
Inclusive Neighbourhoods initiatives like project-based groups, postcode-based groups and every day acts of kindness are informal and organic ways for people to join together in their neighbourhoods and make connections. Often they are not formal volunteer roles and there is no organisation providing oversight of the activities engaged in by participants. Thus, traditional or formal security checks such as National Police Clearances will unlikely be involved.
As a result, safeguarding is very important because it provides a level of protection from risk and harm for those involved in Circles of Support, Peer Networks and Communities of Practice/Interest.
TIP 1 - FIND YOUR ‘TRUSTED INDIVIDUALS’
If you are looking to start an Inclusive Neighbourhoods initiative you could approach people you have known for a long time such as friends or family to assist you. You could also consider approaching people who have standing in their community, for example because of their role with a particular organisation. These people would be known as ‘Trusted Individuals’.
TIP 2 – SET SOME BOUNDARIES
It’s important that everyone involved in the initiative is on the same page about how, when and why they are coming together. This is especially true if a person is receiving support in and around their own home. In order to promote a strong and friendly culture within your initiative, you should consider having conversations with others who are involved about the type of help being requested and provided and how you feel comfortable requesting and receiving help.
For example, a person setting up an ‘Open Garage’ could make it clear that anyone coming to their house outside of Open Garage events must let them know beforehand, or that certain times of the day are off-limits for visits.
In the context of in-person and online initiatives, groups should consider discussing and agreeing to a set of rules about how events will be run.
TIP 3 – KNOW HOW TO GET HELP
It is important for you to know how to get help for yourself or someone else involved in your project if required. Help could come from a friend, family member, support worker or, in more serious cases, emergency services like the police, fire department or ambulance. Knowing who to call for help reduces the likelihood of confusion or inaction in the future.
TIP 4 – LET SOMEONE YOU TRUST KNOW ABOUT ANY GROUPS OR INITIATIVES YOU ARE JOINING
If you are starting or joining a group, communicating with new people or sharing information with somebody new, it can be helpful to let someone you trust know. This could be a family member, friend, neighbour or anyone else in your social network that you trust.
TIP 5 – BE AWARE OF CYBER-SAFETY
If you are joining an initiative that is hosted online, you may wish to use a nickname or a shortening of your full name in the first instance, until you get a feel for how the group works and who the other members are. The same goes for profile photos; perhaps choose a cartoon or a generic image that allows you to remain more anonymous until you feel more comfortable about sharing your details or photo.