Two members of staff from Reading Wado Sei Shin Kan Karate School attended the Are They Safe? safeguarding course in March 2015 which RCVYS ran as part of their Children’s Safeguarding Training Programme. This course has been designed by Safe Network nationally to help organisations who want to begin thinking about safeguarding practices, want to start afresh, or who work with adults in the family, but will indirectly come into contact with children. RCVYS is the Safe Network Ambassador for Reading.
Before they attended the training, the staff were always very conscious about safeguarding the children they worked with. They had CRB/DBS checks in place, and had also read some different information about safeguarding children online. To help them, they asked different people they knew who worked in children’s services profession for advice. They felt that they didn’t have a systematic approach to safeguarding children and didn’t have an explicit set of resources in place which they could refer to in the event of a welfare concern about a child.
The lead staff member has said that she found that the training was hugely helpful in clarifying what they need to do as a voluntary sector organisation, and provided them with support and resources to implement the critical elements of policies and procedures for safeguarding the children in their care. Building on their genuine desire to do the right thing, and to implement practises which are the best that they can be for their organisation.
The RCVYS Development Worker later met up with the lead staff member to look at practical and proportionate examples of approaches which they could use in their setting. This also included developing a set of procedures which were simple and easy to follow.
The lead staff member has commented that prior to connecting with RCVYS, she found the safeguarding agenda to be a ‘mine field’ of complex and conflicting information. She went on to say that RCVYS was a ‘one-stop shop’, who provided clear advice about what they needed to do, simplified the whole topic, and helped them to put together the policies and procedures which they now have in place. She went on to say that “coming across RCVYS was like the mist clearing in the morning. RCVYS presented five points which have helped us to get the basics sorted.”
The Karate School now have a clear policy and procedures in place, which cover a number of different aspects, including safer recruitment, a code of conduct for their staff and volunteers, and details of where they can go for further advice if they need it. They were also particularly concerned that the document was simple to follow and understandable for all their stakeholders, including club members, their parents and the volunteers who form an essential part of their organisation. Many of these stakeholders do not have English as their first language, so the need for simplicity and transparency was essential.
They have also set up a process committing them to reviewing their policy and procedures on an annual basis. They have also joined RCVYS as Members to ensure that they can receive and be aware of important safeguarding updates when they become available. They were also particularly keen to create a sharing and learning culture within the organisation, and regular discuss safeguarding topics in their team meetings, and have a method to share resource, information and ideas.
Working with RCVYS has taken the concern out of safeguarding and they now feel that they have a basic understanding what to do themselves, as well as external sources of support if they feel that they need advice.
Teaching and practising Karate is what they do as an organisation. However, they now making the time to think about, reflect on, and communicate about safeguarding children as an embedded culture in the organisation.
They believe that through this learning process and the support from RCVYS, they have become a more transformative organisation as a result.
The organisation is now in a place where they feel that they can expand further, and have plans to open new classes in the autumn, so that more children can improve their fitness and enjoy the sport in Reading.