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  1. Introduction

At Rays of Sunshine Children’s Charity we believe that the welfare of children is paramount and we are committed to a practice which protects children (i.e. those under 18 years of age) from harm.  The charity is in contact specifically with children who are recognized as amongst the most vulnerable. Our employees and volunteers involved with the charity accept this and we recognise our responsibilities to develop awareness of issues which cause children and young people harm.

We will endeavour to safeguard children and young people by:

  • Adopting safeguarding children guidelines through a code of behaviour for employees and volunteers
  • Sharing information about safeguarding children and good practice with children, parents, employees and volunteers
  • Sharing information about concerns with agencies who need to know, and involving parents and children appropriately
  • Carefully following procedures for recruitment, selection and vetting of employees and volunteers
  • Providing effective management for employees and volunteers through supervision, support and training

This policy has been developed in recognition of the charity’s responsibilities under the Children Act 1989, the Children Act 2004 and the Government guidance, “Working Together to Safeguard Children” (2015).

Rays of Sunshine’s Safeguarding Children Policy is approved and endorsed by the Board of Trustees, and has been reviewed by the Local Safeguarding Children Board (London Borough of Brent). The principles and procedures in this policy are applicable on a nationwide basis.

We are also committed to reviewing our policy and good practice at regular intervals.

  1. Code of Behaviour

 2.1 Statement of Intent

It is the policy of Rays of Sunshine to safeguard the welfare of all children and young people by protecting them from all forms of abuse including physical, emotional and sexual harm. All children without exception have the right to protection from abuse regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, sexuality or beliefs.

Rays of Sunshine is committed to creating a safe environment in which young people can feel comfortable and secure while engaged in any of Rays of Sunshine’s, events or initiatives. Those representing the charity should show respect and understanding for individual’s rights, safety and welfare at all times and conduct themselves in a way that reflects the ethos and principles of Rays of Sunshine.

2.2 Guidelines for all Rays of Sunshine Employees and Volunteers

2.1.1 Attitudes

Employees and volunteers should be committed to:

  • Treating children and young people with respect and dignity;
  • Always listening to what a child or young person is saying;
  • Valuing each child and young person;
  • Recognising the unique contribution each individual can make;
  • Encouraging and praising each child or young person.

2.1.2 By Example

Employees and volunteers should endeavour to:

  • Provide an example, which we would wish others to follow;
  • Use appropriate language with children and young people and challenge any inappropriate language used by a young person or child or an adult working with young people;
  • Respect a young person’s right to privacy.

2.1.3 One to One Contact

Employees and volunteers should:

  • Not spend excessive amounts of time alone with children away from others;
  • In the unlikely event of having to meet with an individual child or young person make every effort to keep this meeting as open as possible;
  • If privacy is needed, ensure that other employees are informed of the meeting and its whereabouts.

2.1.4 Physical Contact

Employees and volunteers should never:

  • Engage in sexually provocative or rough physical games, including horseplay;
  • Do things of a personal nature for a child or a young person that they can do for themselves. If such an incident arises, for example, where a child or young person has limited mobility. Rays of Sunshine employees or volunteers should seek a parent/persons with parental responsibility, member of school staff/leader of the youth organization/person responsible for the child or young person in their dealings with the charity to deal with such an incident;
  • Allow, or engage in, inappropriate touching of any kind.

2.1.5 General

Employees and volunteers should:

  • Be aware that someone might misinterpret our actions no matter how well intentioned;
  • Never draw any conclusions about others without checking the facts;
  • Never allow ourselves to be drawn into inappropriate attention-seeking situations such as tantrums or crushes;
  • Never exaggerate or trivialise child abuse issues or make suggestive remarks or gestures about, or to a child or young person, even in fun.

2.1.6 Relationships

Employees and volunteers who are involved in relationships with other employees or volunteers should ensure that their personal relationships do not affect their role within Rays of Sunshine or the work of Rays of Sunshine.

  1. Definitions

 2.1 Safeguarding Children

Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children is defined for the purposes of this policy as (as stated in ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children 2015’.):

  • Protecting children from maltreatment
  • Preventing impairment of children’s health or development
  • Ensuring that children grow up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care
  • Taking action to enable all children to have the best outcomes

The term ‘safeguarding’ is taken to mean the following, as stated in the London Safeguarding Children Board’s Child Protection Procedures:

  • All agencies working with children, young people and their families take all reasonable measures to ensure that the risks of harm to children’s welfare are minimized, and
  • Where there are concerns about children and young people’s welfare, all agencies take all appropriate action to address those concerns, working to agreed local policies and procedures in full partnership with other local agencies.

2.2 Child Abuse & Neglect

As stated above, this policy is concerned with protecting children from harm, and specifically from abuse and neglect.

Child abuse manifests itself in a variety of ways, definitions of which can be found below.

  • Physical Abuse

Physical abuse may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating, or otherwise causing physical harm to a child. Indicators of concern include an unexplained delay in seeking treatment, reluctance to give information or mention previous injuries, or parents being absent without good reason when their child is presented for treatment. Bruising, bite marks, fractures and scars are all potential indicators of physical abuse. Children may have acquired any of these accidentally, but the following must be considered as indicators of harm unless there is evidence or an adequate explanation provided:

  • Injuries of the same nature that appear to have been caused at different times;
  • The outline of an object is evident in bruising or a burn;
  • Burns of a uniform depth over a large area;
  • Scars that indicate previous burns/scalds did not have appropriate treatment or adequate explanation.

Due to the nature of the charity’s work, it should be noted that non-mobile children rarely sustain fractures.

Physical harm may also be caused when a parent fabricates (makes up or lies about) the symptoms of, or deliberately induces, illness in a child. Three main ways this could happen are: fabrication of signs and symptoms, including fabrication of past medical history; fabrication of signs and symptoms and falsification of hospital charts, records, letters and documents and specimens of bodily fluid, and/or; induction of illness by a variety of means. The methods are not mutually exclusive. 

  • Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional maltreatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent effects on the child’s emotional development, and may involve:

  • Conveying to children that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person;
  • Imposing age or developmentally inappropriate expectations on children. These may include interactions that are beyond the child’s developmental capacity, as well as overprotection and limitation of exploration and learning, or preventing the child participating in normal social interaction;
  • Seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another;
  • Serious bullying, causing children frequently to feel frightened or in danger;
  • Exploiting and corrupting children.

Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of maltreatment of a child, though it may occur alone. Signs of emotional abuse are usually behavioral rather than physical, and may be difficult to recognize. Indicators of emotional abuse include developmental delay, abnormal attachment between a child and parent, or a child is withdrawn and has difficulty relating to others.

  • Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to taken part in sexual activities, including prostitution, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including penetrative or non-penetrative acts.

Sexual abuse includes:

  • Abuse of children through sexual exploitation. Penetrative sex where one of partners is under the age of 16 is illegal, although prosecution of similar age. Consenting partners is not usual. However, where a child is under the age of 12, it is classified as rape under s5 Sexual Offences Act 2003.
  • Non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of pornographic materials, watching sexual activities or encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways.

Behavioural indicators which may help professional identify child sexual abuse include sexually explicit behaviour, play or conversation inappropriate to the child’s age, self-harm, and self-mutilation. Physical indicators include pain or itching of genital area.

  • Neglect

Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development. It may occur during pregnancy as a result of maternal substance abuse. Once a child is born, neglect may involve a parent failing to:

  • Provide adequate food, clothing and shelter (including exclusion from home or abandonment), or to neglect or be unresponsive to a child’s basic emotional needs.
  • Protect a child from physical and emotional harm or danger;
  • Ensure adequate supervision (including the use of adequate care-givers);
  • Ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment.

Evidence of neglect is built up over a period of time. Professionals need to discuss concerns with any other agencies which may be involved with the family, to establish whether seemingly minor incidents are in fact part of a wider pattern of neglectful parenting. Indicators of neglect include parents failing to meet essential physical needs (e.g. around food/clothing/hygiene), a child being left with adults who are intoxicated or violent, or a child being left with inappropriate carers (e.g. too young, complete strangers).

2.2.5 Factors & Indicators

It should be noted that where examples of factors and indicators are given, the lists are not exhaustive.

2.3 Recognising Abuse and Neglect

2.3.1 Indicators

Certain factors are frequently found in cases of child abuse or neglect. Their presence is not proof that abuse has occurred, but:

  • Must be regarded as indicators of the possibility of significant harm;
  • Indicates a need for careful assessment and discussion with the agency’s nominated safeguarding children person;
  • May require consultation with and/or referral to the Local Authority’s social care and/or police.

The absence of such indicators does not mean that abuse or neglect has not occurred.

In an abusive relationship, children may appear frightened of the parent. They may act in a way that is inappropriate to their age and development.

In an abusive relationship, parents may:

  • Persistently avoid routine child health services and/or treatment when the child is ill;
  • Have unrealistic expectations of the child;
  • Frequently complain about/to the child and may fail to provide attention or praise;
  • Be absent or leave the child with inappropriate carers;
  • Persistently avoid contact with services or delay the start of continuation of treatment.

 As stated above, where examples of factors and indicators are given, but the lists are not exhaustive.

  1. Sharing Information about Safeguarding Children and Good Practice with Children, Employees and Volunteers

4.1 Statement of Intent

Good communication is essential in any organisation. At Rays of Sunshine every effort will be made to assure that, should individuals have concerns, they will be listened to and taken seriously.

It is the responsibility of management to ensure that information is available to, and exchanged between all those involved in this organization and its activities. Some information is confidential and should only be shared on a strictly need-to-know basis.

Nominated member of Rays of Sunshine Children’s Charity responsible for safeguarding and child protection: Ginnie White, Head of Wish Operations

4.2 Children and young people

Children and young people have a right to information, especially any information that could make life better and safer for them. Rays of Sunshine will act to ensure they have information about how, and with whom, they can share their concerns, complaints and anxieties. When sharing information, Rays of Sunshine personnel will be sensitive to the level of understanding and maturity, as well as to the level of responsibility, of the people with whom they are sharing.

4.3 Parents

Parents/persons with parental responsibility are ultimately responsible for their children’s welfare at all times, and they should be assured that their children are involved with a credible organisation.

We achieve this by:

  • Publicising information on all our work with children and young people.
  • Publishing the named Designated Safeguarding Children Person(s) and how to make a complaint on the charity’s website raysofsunshine.org.uk
  • Publishing a full copy of the Safeguarding Children Policy on the charity’s website raysofsunshine.org.uk

4.4 Employees & Volunteers

As an organization granting wishes and arranging events for the benefit of children and young people, it is imperative that each Rays of Sunshine employee is aware of their responsibilities under the Safeguarding Children legislation and has a working knowledge of Rays of Sunshine’s procedures. Each employee, and volunteers who are in contact with children, will receive updated training in safeguarding children.

4.5 Other Bodies

A copy of our Safeguarding Children Policy will be made available to any other appropriate body.

  1. Sharing Information about Concerns with Agencies that Need to Know, and Involving Parents and Children Appropriately

 5.1 Procedure for Reporting Allegations or Suspicions of Abuse

In any case of an allegation being made, or someone in Rays of Sunshine has concerns, they should report it to the manager responsible for safeguarding and child protection and a record should be made. Details must include, as far as practical:

  • Name of child or young person
  • Age
  • Home Address (if known)
  • Date of Birth (if known)
  • Name/s and Address of parent/s or person/s with parental responsibility
  • Telephone numbers if available
  • Is the person making the report expressing their own concerns, or passing on those of somebody else? If so, record details
  • What has prompted the concerns?

Include dates and times of any specific incidents

  • Has the child or young person been spoken to?

If so, what was said?

  • Has anybody been alleged to be the abuser?

If so, record details

  • Who has this been passed on to, in order that appropriate action is taken? e.g. school, designated officer, social services etc
  • Has anyone else been consulted?

If so, record details

  • Record any discussions or actions taken within 24 hours.

Where an allegation is made against a member of staff, including a volunteer, it must be reported to the Designated Safeguarding Children Person (see 5.3) who will notify the Local Authority’s Designated Officer (L.A.D.O), if the criteria are met. The criteria would be that:

  • The alleged action has harmed or is likely to harm a child/children, and/or
  • The alleged behaviour is inappropriate with regards to dealing/contact with children.

Where an allegation is made against a member of staff, including a volunteer, the CEO (see 5.3) must also be informed.

More detail on what is required at each stage of the procedure can be found in 5.2 Disclosure, and a summary of the whole process around a complaint/allegation is in Appendix I.

A suitable form to record the required information when reporting allegations or suspicions of abuse can be found in Appendix 1.

 5.2 Disclosure

  •  Never guarantee absolute confidentiality, as the protection of the child is the most important consideration;
  • Listen to the child, rather than question him or her directly. Offer him/her reassurance without making promises, and take what the child says seriously;
  • Allow the child to speak without interruption. Accept what is said – it is not your role to investigate or question. Do not overreact;
  • Alleviate feelings of guilt and isolation, while passing no judgement;
  • Advise that you will try to offer support, but that you must pass the information on. Explain what you have to do and whom you have to tell;
  • Record the discussion accurately, as soon as possible after the event. Use the child’s words or explanations – do not translate into your own words, in case you have misconstrued what the child was trying to say;
  • Contact one of the charity’s Designated Safeguarding Children Persons for advice /guidance;
  • Advise the CEO of concerns raised/allegations made, for the purposes of recording and monitoring;
  • The Designated Safeguarding Children Person may then discuss the concern/suspicion with the relevant organisation, and, if appropriate, make a direct referral;

If either Designated Person is not available, or it is inappropriate to approach them, the volunteer/employee with the concern should make direct contact with the relevant organization themselves. The CEO should be advised of the allegation;

  • Record any discussions or actions taken within 24 hours.

 5.3 Designated Safeguarding Children Persons

For reasons of confidentiality the only person(s) needing to know this information are the following Designated Safeguarding Children Persons. In the first instance this is:

Head of Wish Operations & Designated Safeguarding Children Person

Rays of Sunshine Children’s Charity

4th Floor,

Berkeley House,

304 Regents Park Road,

London,

N3 2JY

Work Tel: 0208 782 1171

In their absence, the following would deputise:

Wish Managers & Designated Safeguarding Children Person

Rays of Sunshine Children’s Charity

4th Floor,

Berkeley House,

304 Regents Park Road,

London,

N3 2JY

Work Tel: 0208 782 1171

The CEO, Jane Sharpe advises on the application and implementation of the Safeguarding Children Policy. The CEO will hold and maintain a record of any allegations.

The Designated Person(s) will inform the relevant outside organisation of the incident.

Social Services Duty Social Worker

London Borough of Brent

Brent House Annexe

356-358 High Road

Wembley

Middlesex

HA9 6BX

Tel: 0208 937 1200 (open 9am – 5pm)
Police CAIT (Child Abuse Investigation Team) for Brent Tel: 0208 733 3503
NSPCC Helpline Tel: 0808 800 5000 Freephone

24 hours

ChildLine Tel: 0800 1111 – Freephone

5.4 Record-Keeping

  • All records, information and confidential notes should be kept in separate files in a locked drawer or filing cabinet.
  • Only the Designated Persons and the CEO will have access to these files.
  • Records, information and confidential notes regarding any concerns raised, allegations made and the referral of any cases must be kept for 6 years. Records of any cases involving external authorities, such as social services, should be kept for at least 6 years and certainly until the relevant child is 18, whichever is the longer.  If there is an investigation by a local authority or if a child’s death is involved, records should be kept beyond these periods.
  • If paperwork is forwarded for the purposes of referring a case, the charity should retain original copies of the documentation. Duplicate copies should be sent to the relevant organization/s, as advised.
  1. Following Carefully the Procedures for Recruitment & Selection of Trustees, Employees & Volunteers

 Rays of Sunshine operates employment and supervision procedures that ensure highest priority is given to issues relating to safeguarding children. Procedures include checks into the eligibility and suitability of all trustees, employees and volunteers who have direct or indirect contact with children.

Each new employee or volunteer who could be coming into contact with children will be required to undergo a criminal record check in accordance with our recruitment policy.

  1. Providing Effective Management for Employees & Volunteering through Supervision, Support and Training

 Rays of Sunshine encourages the development of employees and volunteers through its ongoing support, supervision and training.

7.1 Induction

Each new employee or volunteer is made familiar with Rays of Sunshine’s policies and procedures including the Safeguarding Children Policy and Code of Behaviour.

7.2 Performance Reviews

Each new employee undergoes a 1 month review and then a probationary review at 3 months. Full performance and development reviews are conducted on an annual basis for all employees.

7.3 Mentoring Schemes

Each new Volunteer Wish Coordinator is assigned to a ‘buddy’ for the granting of their first wish. This provides the new employee with opportunities to voice concerns and anxieties or to ask questions about their work or the environment in which they are working.

After their first wish, Volunteer Wish Coordinators are closely supervised and supported by the charity’s wish team.

7.4 Training

At Rays of Sunshine, management takes responsibility for the training needs of employees and volunteers. The individual, however, also plays a part in identifying areas where they feel they require training or development, and may submit a request for training or development at any point in the year. Training and development needs will also be addressed at the annual performance and development review (6.5).

Volunteers working on wishes or supporting hospital liaison work are provided with full training on their role. All other volunteers are fully briefed on expectations and responsibilities as they become involved in the charity’s initiatives and events.

7.5 Annual Performance & Development Reviews

There is a formal performance and development review system for each employee at the end of the year, providing for identification of current and future development needs and for action to be taken.

  1. Child Safety Online

Rays of Sunshine have outlined their guidelines for child safety online in accordance with ‘Child Safety Online: A Practical Guide for Providers of Social Media and Interactive Services’ (2015).

The Rays of Sunshine Child protection policy, Code of Conduct and other guidance applies to online interaction with children.

Social Media:

The Rays of Sunshine social media accounts will not ‘friend’ or ‘follow’ any children under the age of 13. This will be managed by the PR & Communications team.

All team members are trained to never ‘friend’ or ‘follow’ children and young people under 13 on any social media sites with whom they have, or may have, a professional relationship or that you have become aware of in the course of your work.

Social media sites are not intended for under children under the age of 13 years of age. Therefore, you should not engage with contributors, cast or audience under the age of 13 on any social media site. This includes retweeting or replying to messages.

If anyone within the charity has a concern about a child or young person online (inappropriate contact or conduct for example), they must report their concerns to the Designated Safeguarding Children Person.

Rays of Sunshine are committed to following the 6 key safety principles as outlined in ‘Child Safety Online: A Practical Guide for Providers of Social Media and Interactive Services’ (2015). Although not all principles are relevant to Rays of Sunshine’s online activity all future developments will be in accordance with these 6 principles as managed by the Head of PR & Communications.

  • Managing content on our service – all social media platforms are managed by a member of the PR team in accordance with the sites rules and regulations.
  • Parental controls – this is enforced by the sites own policies and procedures.
  • Dealing with abuse/misuse – this is outlined by the sites policies.
  • Dealing with child sexual abuse content and illegal contact – this is managed by the social media platform.
  • Privacy and controls – this is managed by the social media platform.
  • Education and awareness