Protecting vulnerable groups including children

Charities working with vulnerable groups including children have to make sure their users are safe and protected from harm. Volunteers, employees and trustees must have the right checks and assessments before they can work with a charity. Find out how charities can protect their users.

People who need protection

Charities may be set up to help children or people who could be vulnerable to abuse because of their age, health, physical or mental abilities. People who rely on others can be particularly vulnerable, for example when receiving nursing care, being washed, dressed or transported.

Criminal record checks

You can check whether people applying for certain roles with your charity have a criminal record, using the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). This service was formed by the Criminal Records Bureau and the Independent Safeguarding Authority merging.

There are different levels of checks available. Jobs that involve caring for, supervising or being in sole charge of children or adults require an enhanced DBS check.

Find out more about criminal records checks and which roles are eligible:

Criminal records checks – Gov.uk

Protecting your beneficiaries with safeguards

Trustees of charities have a duty of care to their charity which, if they work with vulnerable groups including children, will include taking the necessary steps to safeguard and take responsibility for them.

Your charity must put safeguards in place to protect vulnerable people from abuse, and prevent abuse happening in the first place.

Safeguards are internal procedures and policies, for example:

  • making trustees, staff and volunteers aware of what abuse is and how to spot it
  • having a clear system of reporting concerns as soon as abuse is identified or suspected
  • responding to abuse rapidly and carrying out investigations confidentially
  • preventing harm and abuse with a rigorous recruitment and interview process
Safeguards

Having proper safeguards in place means your charity can promote a safe place for your beneficiaries, and gives the public confidence in your charity and trustees.

For example, a charity that works with children should:

  • have a child protection policy – a statement explaining how the charity protects children from harm
  • put in place child protection processes which give clear, step-by-step guidance if abuse is identified
  • carry out the appropriate level of DBS checks on staff, volunteers and trustees (depending on their access to children)
  • have policies and procedures to help prevent abuse happening in the first place, such as adult workers not having one-to-one access to young people

Read more about safeguarding vulnerable groups including children:

Safeguarding children – detailed guidance

Reporting serious incidents

Most charities don’t encounter any serious incidents or problems. When they do, the trustees have a responsibility to report the incident to us as soon as they become aware of it.

Our role is to make sure trustees are acting responsibly and taking the right action. Reporting incidents shows to us that trustees are taking the most appropriate action and safeguarding the charity.

Find out more about how and when to report serious incidents:

Reporting serious incidents

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