Going for gold. A Safeguarding update from Scotland
International development and humanitarian assistance involves working with the most vulnerable and marginalise people, so it is essential that we work to the highest standards and that we do no harm in our endeavours. This includes harm, abuse, or exploitation which is intended, opportunistic or unintended. All these can occur if systems are weak, if clear safeguarding policies and procedures are lacking, if organisational culture surrounding safeguarding is unhealthy and if power dynamics are unequal.
Strong safeguarding systems and standards are essential so that the risks of harm to the most vulnerable and susceptible to abuse, harm or exploitation – those who we particularly seek to reach in our work – are minimised as far as possible.
The Journey so far...
Following media attention in 2018, there was a recognition that organisations had to be clearer about their safeguarding policies and procedures. At that time, we were agreed and clear that transforming the standards of safeguarding would not be a “quick fix”, but rather was a journey. Donors and funders revised and clarified their compliance and due diligence requirements with specific mention of safeguarding.
The Alliance worked closely with the Scottish Government to assess the needs and provide resources, training and tools to improve safeguarding standards. This saw the development of "Safer for All” - a new Safeguarding Support Package. This package helps organisations to strengthen their safeguarding policies, procedures and practice. “Safer for All” is designed to provide organisations with the information, tools, and resources and support needed to ensure that safeguarding practice meets the highest standards.
This has been the first step in the journey. Considerable progress has been made in developing meaningful and appropriate safeguarding policies and bringing safeguarding onto everyone’s agenda. But we strive for a gold standard of safeguarding practice.
The Alliance continues to prioritise safeguarding and is building on the work of the previous year to keep us moving forward in the journey towards high standards. We have the benefits of a framework of global, UK and Scotland pledges and commitments and a shared will as well as an growing bank of resources and tools.
Recognising that the organisational culture of an organisation is inspired and influenced by its leadership, the priority for this year is to work with and support Trustees and Boards to strengthen this healthy safeguarding culture.
Our focus in the coming months is to:
- Further develop and update the “Safer for All” package including the Safeguarding Policy Development Guide, training modules, resources and references.
- Pilot Trustee Trainings with the Alliance, Scottish Fair Trade Forum and Scotland Malawi Partnership
- Roll out a set of Trustee Trainings with the intent to reach all member organisations.
- The Safeguarding Working Group will meet for the first time on August 28 – this will provide a space for Alliance members to share their experience of fostering safe organisations and building robust safeguarding policies, procedures and practice. Details and sign up here
- The Scottish Government is holding a series of training sessions for organisations funded by Scottish Government grants, which is complementary to Alliance training.
These actions support the development of a culture where safeguarding is at the heart of everything we do, and where all of those with whom we work are empowered to speak up, raise concerns and challenge unhealthy safeguarding attitudes and practice.