The following guidelines are designed to outline the general principles which should be adopted when engaging with children, young people and vulnerable adults in handbell ringing activities. It is recognised that many such groups will function through a local Church Ministry and, therefore, the appropriate Diocesan Child Protection Policy will apply.
The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Handbell Ringers of Great Britain places great value on children and young people (anyone under the age of 18 years) as members of the organisation and is committed to promoting a safe environment in which they may join in the activities of the Society.
The NEC takes seriously this obligation and accepts its responsibilities to protect and safeguard the well being of children, young people and vulnerable adults.
CHILD PROTECTION – GOOD WORKING PRACTICE
The NEC expects that all members involved in the supervision of children, young people and vulnerable adults will:–
- Provide warm, friendly and consistent care and never strike a child or act or speak inappropriately (i.e. not use bad language or sexually suggestive language or behaviour).
- Respect the background and culture of those in their care.
- Have a commitment to the ethos of equal opportunities and, therefore, treat all young people as individuals with equal concern and respect.
- Have reasonable health, mental stability, integrity and flexibility.
- Seek parental consent for children to attend groups and activities.
In addition the following principles will be observed:-
- Reasonable leader to child ratios will be maintained with a minimum of 2 leaders over the age of 16, of which at least one must be over the age of 18, no matter what size group of children and with both male and female leaders in mixed groups wherever possible. Female leaders MUST be present when girls are in attendance.
- Sole charge is not advised, but it is recognised that there are sometimes unavoidable extenuating circumstances. The leader will, therefore, minimise any risk as a matter of priority (e.g. remain in a public part of the building, ask a parent or other acceptable adult to sit in on the session).
- No person under 18 years of age should be left in sole charge of any children of any age.
- Leaders will be vigilant in the work, using common sense and high levels of good working practice. They will endeavour not to cause children in their care to be at any risk of abuse, harm or neglect. Prevention from physical, emotional or sexual harm is of paramount importance and the child will always be considered first.
CHILD PROTECTION – PROCEDURES FOR REFERRALS
Leaders may, from time to time, have concerns raised about possible inappropriate conduct or abuse which may have occurred within the group setting or within another context, but which is drawn to their attention. In either event the following procedures should be applied:
- If there are concerns that a child is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm or is in immediate danger of harm, then a referral to Social Services or the Police should be made at once. State clearly that you are making a “Child Protection Referral”, identify yourself and the group that you represent. You should also advise your HRGB Regional Secretary.
- The leader must not investigate beyond establishing and recording the basic facts so that a decision can be made about what further action, if any, needs to be taken (e.g. a referral) - do not interview.
It is important to recognise that it is a requirement of all organisations to have in place a “Child Protection Policy”. This statement is adopted to protect those involved in leading groups of children as well as the young people themselves. Your Local Authority will have the necessary expertise and resources to undertake all appropriate investigations and follow up action should a referral prove to have substance. They will offer support and advice to you should you have cause to contact them.