Sarah Goodall, Managing Director of The Athena Programme explains how a safer culture starts with effective governance arrangements.
In today’s landscape, safeguarding our service users is a crucial element of service delivery that does not discriminate whether you work directly or indirectly with children, young people and their families or adults at risk. Whether you are a small or large voluntary sector organisation a safer culture starts with effective governance. To begin, it’s about mapping a framework that is clear, robust and easy to understand for your governance procedures within your organisational structures. This will ultimately lead to positive values, attitudes and behaviours for safer working practices and inevitably a safer culture.
Current legislation and national guidance for safeguarding of children and imminently for vulnerable adults dictates that you cannot afford not to have this golden thread approach in place. Effective governance should be able to show clear evidence trails of information from the service user, volunteer or member of staff directly upwards to the Chief Executive and Trustees. It is the Trustees that hold final accountability and responsibility. Every safeguarding concern or allegation of professional abuse needs to be captured, recorded and responded to identifying outcomes leaving an evidence trail. By mapping the governance framework it allows you to do this whilst managing risk in constructive, realistic and effective communicative boundaries.
In looking at governance you may want to see an internal safeguarding group or a tier of staff that act as safeguarding champions. These staff are skilled and knowledge and competent to respond to safeguarding concerns acting in a supporting role for the workforce. Whilst offering a further sense of reassurance for the Chief Executive and Trustees. Both a safeguarding advisory group and safeguarding champion model internally has a crucial function for governance and a watchful eye of the safeguarding issues that are raised organisationally. This applies to small or large organisations the principles and theory is the same!
A model for effective governance offers many advantages such as: setting the framework for safeguarding policy and procedures, internal systems that work for your organisation and compliments the way your staff offer interventions for safer working practices; allows for audit and review systems to be put in place; identifies training needs and most importantly gives standardisation and consistency.
As the Chief Executive or Chair of Trustees it gives you peace of mind, enables you to drive forward the organisations sustainability or growth strategy. Alongside this it can improve your inspection results and can link to all inspection frameworks, as well as providing opportunities for accessing funding. As Neil Matthewman, Chief Executive of Community Integrated Care says “Working with Athena has helped us to review and refine our overall Safeguarding Governance Arrangements and has also helped to raise the profile of Safeguarding and Assurance with our Trustees, all our workforce and volunteers”.
Showing transparency and wanting to build on what you already have can happen anytime whenever the organisation is in its development or is long established. By continually working towards a safer culture it gives you safer processes, safer environments and safer information both internally and externally facing. It is a place where people have a shared vision with appropriate attitudes, beliefs and builds engagement. Where behaviours are appropriate and where the regime and cultural practices are safe.
Finally, by being able to share best practice across your organisation and having an unambiguous transparent approach to safeguarding children, young people and vulnerable adults are valued and have a voice. All people are treated with respect and dignity. Staff and volunteer’s feels safe and equally children, young people and adults at risk feel safe.
If you would like to discuss your organisation’s governance and safeguarding needs please contact Services Manager Olabisi Porteous 0207 0144619