Safeguarding Policy

Safeguarding Principles & Procedures

The purpose of this Safeguarding Principles & Procedures document and associated policies and guidance is to set out how Rwanda Action as an organisation and Relevant Persons working for or with us (whether or not they are paid) should operate to ensure the protection of Vulnerable People. It applies in all geographical locations as well as in written, spoken and online media.

This document gives practical effect to Rwanda Action’s Safeguarding Policy and to our commitment to promoting the dignity and basic rights of every person and to causing no harm to any person or community in the delivery of its work. Child protection is central to our Safeguarding Policy, but not separate from safeguarding.

Rwanda Action aims to work in ways that are culturally sensitive and will provide guidance and information to Relevant Persons from outside Rwanda, so that they are aware of behaviours that may be considered impolite or offensive to personnel or our beneficiaries in Rwanda.

Rwanda Action's safeguarding policy aims to:

  1. Establish a common understanding of safeguarding issues
  2. Ensure good practice and accountability
  3. Guide decision making
  4. Recognise both UK and Rwandan law and ensure our operating standards are above their minimum requirements
  5. Ensure the protection of Vulnerable People, as well as Relevant Persons and the wider community

This policy includes monitoring and reporting structures to prevent abuse and report and respond to any concerns.

Any breach of this policy and any associated codes of conduct, guidance or related policies may be dealt with as a disciplinary matter.

Whistleblowing

It is important that someone with a genuine concern about the safety or welfare of any other person should be able to express those concerns to an appropriate person. Provided reports of any concerns are made in good faith, even if they cannot ultimately be substantiated, Rwanda Action will not take, and will seek to protect the person reporting such concerns from, any direct or indirect punitive action. However, malicious accusations of safeguarding breaches will be considered a breach of trust between Rwanda Action and the individual(s) concerned and dealt with accordingly.

Terminology

In this policy, Rwanda Action uses the following terms:

Relevant Persons include the following people associated with Rwanda Action:

  1. Employees
  2. Trustees
  3. Volunteers
  4. Visitors
  5. Others working for or with Rwanda Action, including partner organisations and those receiving funds or other support from Rwanda Action.

Vulnerable People include:

  1. Children - persons under 18 years of age
  2. Young people - persons between 15 and 25 years of age
  3. Vulnerable adults - persons over 18 years of age who may not be fully able to take care of or to protect themselves from abuse, harm or exploitation.

Regulated activities:

These are activities where those participating in them may be subject to additional checks or requirements and include activities that:

  1. Involve contact with Vulnerable People, especially if unsupervised
  2. Are of a specified nature (e.g. teaching, supervising, counselling)
  3. Take place in a specified place (e.g. school, hospital)
  4. Occur
    1. frequently (once a month or more),
    2. intensively (where an activity takes place on three or more days in any 30 day period)
    3. and/or overnight (between 10.00pm and 6.00am).

For the avoidance of doubt, this definition does not exclude other activities from the scope of this policy or the duties and responsibilities of any Relevant Persons to Vulnerable People.

Guiding Principles

  1. The guiding principle of this policy is that abuse of any kind is always unacceptable, and everyone has an equal right to protection from abuse and exploitation.
  2. Rwanda Action will ensure that the rights, safety and wellbeing of Vulnerable People are addressed in all aspects of Rwanda Action’s work; its policies, planning, management and communications.
  3. Rwanda Action recognises the responsibility that comes with the positions of trust which staff and volunteers may hold through its international development activities.
  4. Rwanda Action will provide clear guidelines and procedures that will not only help avoid inappropriate or misguided behaviour but will also provide information on what action to take in response to such behaviour.
  5. Rwanda Action will ensure Relevant Persons receive induction, regular training and guidance to ensure they understand their roles and responsibilities with respect to safeguarding.
  6. Rwanda Action will monitor the implementation of this Safeguarding Policy and report to the Rwanda Action board of trustees at least quarterly.
  7. Rwanda Action will keep this Safeguarding Policy under constant review and report to the Rwanda Aid board of trustees at least quarterly.

Definitions of abuse

Abuse is the intentional or unintentional violation of an individual’s human and civil rights by any other person or persons. Due to the victim being a Vulnerable Person, actual or perceived consent to any form of abuse is no justification for or defence to accusations of an abusive act. Abuse can be perpetrated by anyone, including someone who may themselves be classed as a Vulnerable Person by reason of their age or circumstances. Abuse can take many forms, including:

  1. Discrimination - Abuse motivated by a personal characteristic, including age, race, nationality, gender, gender identification, sexual orientation, disability.
  2. Financial/material abuse - Examples include exploitation, fraud, theft, extortion, pressure in relation to inheritance and misuse or misappropriation of possessions, property or benefits.
  3. Neglect - Failure to meet the basic physical and psychological needs of a Vulnerable Person. This can negatively impact on that person’s health and wellbeing. It can include failure to protect a Vulnerable Person against harm.
  4. Physical abuse - Physical abuse is wide ranging, including shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning/scalding, drowning, suffocating, inappropriate force in restraint or sanctions and misuse of medication.
  5. Psychological abuse - This includes emotional abuse, bullying (in any form) and threat of physical or other forms of abuse as well as inappropriate expectations of another person.
  6. Sexual abuse - Forcing, enticing or coercing another to take part in sexual activities. The activities may involve physical contact or non-contact activities and grooming in preparation, including inappropriate use of social media. There is a risk of further exploitation as a result of sexual abuse.

Accountability

All staff and volunteers must read, sign and abide by the Rwanda Action Safeguarding Policy and Rwanda Action Code of Conduct. The Country Manager and Operations Director have responsibility for ensuring Relevant Persons understand and abide by this safeguarding policy.

Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility. Any safeguarding concerns or breach of this policy should be reported as soon as possible and in any event within 24 hours. The form for reporting concerns is on page 8 of this policy. The flow chart on page 7 shows how safeguarding concerns should be dealt with.

The Lead Person in Rwanda is the Country Manager – BARIYIZI Felicien

Email: country.director@rwanda-aid.org

Tel: +250 781 087 523 / +250 783 492 136

Rwanda office: Munezero House, BP 285, Kamembe, Rusizi District, Western Province, Rwanda

The Lead Person in the UK is the Operations Director – Janyis Watson

Email: janyis.watson@rwanda-aid.org

Tel: +44 7763 380514

The Rwanda Action board of trustees holds ultimate responsibility for the implementation of Rwanda Action’s Safeguarding Policy.

The Lead Person is responsible for:

  • Recording safeguarding concerns and monitoring them
  • Referring issues to relevant people within Rwanda Action and outside authorities as necessary
  • Organising and reviewing safeguarding training for all staff
  • Keeping the Rwanda Action Safeguarding Policy under constant review
  • Ensuring the Rwanda Action Safeguarding Policy is implemented
  • Maintaining monitoring and records in accordance with Rwanda Action Privacy Policy

Safeguarding training

This will include:

  • How to identify signs of abuse or neglect
  • What to do if there is concern for the welfare of an individual or individuals
  • What to do in response to a disclosure
  • What to do if suspicions are raised about a person
  • Where to get information, support and advice
  • How to monitor a situation
  • How to report concerns

Recruitment - disclosure procedures

All Relevant Persons working for or on behalf of Rwanda Action (whether paid or otherwise) who may come into contact with Vulnerable People will first be subject to a rigorous recruitment and vetting process, which will include as a minimum, and as is appropriate to their role:

At least one face to face interview with at least two interviewers.

At least two references providing detail about the person’s character and workplace record, and disclosing any concerns relating to their working with vulnerable people.

All Relevant Persons likely to engage in regulated activities (see above) involving Vulnerable People will be required to have a criminal record check (a disclosure) issued by one of the statutory disclosure bodies or a police check where there is no statutory body.

Rwanda Action will meet the cost of providing a disclosure certificate or police check for potential or existing employees.

The Operations Director is responsible for arranging checks as part the recruitment process for Rwanda Action staff and volunteers outside Rwanda, and the Country Manager is responsible for all necessary checks in Rwanda.

Where a disclosure is required for a paid or voluntary position, a statement of the fact will be included in the advertisement.

If the disclosure reveals any discrepancies that are serious and relevant to the suitability of the applicant to perform the job, the application will be declined.

A disclosure certificate does not negate the need for the standard check of contacting two referees for employees or volunteers working with Vulnerable People. If anything in those references causes concern about the applicant’s suitability to work with Vulnerable People, the referee will be contacted, and the application may be declined.

Where a Relevant Person commences work or volunteering prior to receipt of the enhanced disclosure certificate or equivalent, they must not engage in any regulated activity until such certificate is received.

Disclosure information is highly confidential and will only be shared with personnel involved in recruitment and used only for the specific purpose for which it was requested and for which the applicant’s full consent has been given.

Disclosure certificates are portable and can be used for more than one position. Only the certificate holder will retain the certificate.

In the case of a volunteer or potential employee with limited UK residence, the Disclosure and Barring Service or Disclosure Scotland will be contacted to find out what police checks or criminal record checks are available in the country the person has been working in. If criminal record checks are available these will be sought.

If no criminal checks are available for an applicant then further references will be requested, preferably from work undertaken with children or if appropriate to work within finance roles. A written record of any verbal references will be kept in personnel files.

In the UK, Rwanda Action will fully comply with the Disclosure and Barring Service or Disclosure Scotland Code of Practice regarding the correct handling, use, storage, retention and disposal of Disclosures and Disclosure information. It will fully comply with the Data Protection Act 2018 and other relevant legislation to the safe handling, use, storage, retention and disposal of disclosure information.

Formerly Rwanda Aid, we are a charity that is empowering communities to reduce poverty in Rwanda

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