Safeguarding Policy

Safeguarding Policy

Rwanda Action works in the remote south west of Rwanda to support the vulnerable and disadvantaged, especially children, helping them to develop the skills and knowledge to build a better future for themselves, their families and their community.

The safety and welfare of any children, young people or vulnerable adults (collectively, ‘vulnerable persons’) assisted or otherwise impacted by our work or the activities and programmes we support is of paramount importance to us. We are committed to ensuring that the experiences of all such vulnerable persons, whether they are in direct or indirect contact with us or through partner organisations that we support, is one that is free from any form of abuse or exploitation. Everyone, and not just vulnerable persons, who comes into contact with any person associated with us or our partners should at all times feel safe and respected.

Accordingly, all staff and volunteers working for or with Rwanda Action or with or for our partners or beneficiary organisations are expected to be aware of and to act in accordance with these principles and all other relevant policy and practice guidance produced by Rwanda Action, and we will actively monitor the application of this policy to ensure adherence to them.

Compliance with local legal and regulatory standards and best practice are considered the absolute minimum requirement and Rwanda Action may seek assurances from staff, volunteers and partner organisations that higher standards are imposed. Adherence to this policy is a condition of working with or for Rwanda Action or of support and collaboration of any kind from Rwanda Action. This policy should be read in conjunction with Rwanda Action’s Safeguarding Principles & Procedures.

Ordinarily, partner organisations will be expected to have and to apply a safeguarding policy incorporating these minimum requirements and which addresses the points set out below in sections A-D.

  1. Types of abuse or exploitation

Abuse and exploitation can take many forms and maybe be carried out by any person against anyone else; including by one vulnerable person against another, by or against a staff member or volunteer, family members or friends of alleged victims or by people in authority such as teachers, police officers, carers or others.

Abuse or exploitation may include, but is not limited to:

  • Sexual abuse or inappropriate touching or comments of any kind, whether or not there was or was perceived by any person to have been consent
  • Bullying, threatening, abusive or disparaging or mocking acts or words, including acts of actual or threatened violence or that cause emotional, physical or psychological harm
  • Acts that cause an individual to feel compelled to act in a particular way or to do something against their will or which they do not have the legal, mental or emotional capacity to consent to doing
  • Acts or omissions that result in neglect or a lack of care
  • The sending by any means of material, whether in words, in pictures or otherwise, that results in abuse or exploitation of the kinds mentioned above.
  • Recruitment

The recruitment of all staff and volunteers should be a robust process that includes interviews and independent references and, in the case of those working directly with vulnerable persons, this should include at least one interview and two references from persons in authority and in a position to vouch for their good character. Where local regulations require further background checks or certifications, such as criminal records checks, these must also be undertaken, recorded and kept up to date.

  1. Training and oversight

All staff and volunteers must be familiar from their first engagement with their legal responsibilities for the welfare and safeguarding of vulnerable persons and must comply with safeguarding policies applicable to them through their work for Rwanda Action and/or any partner or beneficiary organisation supported by us. This will include clearly defined ‘Dos and Don’ts’ setting out permissible behaviour when working with vulnerable persons, and also the steps and processes referred to below under ‘Reporting and recording safeguarding concerns’.

An initial induction process and subsequent periodic training and updates should be provided in order for all staff and volunteers to be aware of current regulatory requirements and policies, developments in the regulatory environment and to maintain the requisite standards of compliance. This will include training in what constitutes abusive or exploitative behaviour and how complaints or concerns should be addressed fairly and sensitively to protect all concerned. All such staff and volunteers must have an identified line manager responsible both for ensuring training and the continued oversight of their activities.

  1. Reporting and recording safeguarding concerns

We recognise the potential difficulties of reporting and recording safeguarding concerns and the importance of creating and maintaining a culture within organisations that allows both vulnerable persons or staff or volunteers to report instances of perceived or actual abuse with confidence and without recrimination.

Our expectation is that our staff, volunteers and all organisations with which we work can both evidence and implement robust mechanisms for reporting and recording complaints or concerns, from whoever they emanate – whether from an alleged victim or another person. These will include at a minimum:

A practical, accessible and well understood process for reporting such concerns to a responsible person unconnected with the alleged or perceived abuse or safeguarding concern. This should include identifying and making known to all the person to whom complaints or concerns should be made and the means for doing so. This will usually be a dedicated Safeguarding Officer

  • A process for recording such concerns, independent of the person or persons about whom complaints or concerns have been made or raised, with a clear indication that a failure to record and investigate complaints and concerns may itself be a disciplinary offence
  • A process for alerting the appropriate legal, enforcement, child or vulnerable person protection agencies without undue delay
  • A process for elevating the complaint or concern within an organisation to the appropriate level of senior management and for notifying Rwanda Action where there is a likely risk of legal or regulatory action, publicity, reputational damage or financial or other loss.
  • A process for fairly and impartially investigating complaints or concerns and then:
    • taking disciplinary action against the individual(s) concerned, if appropriate, up to and including dismissal and reporting to the matter to the authorities
    • taking all appropriate steps to prevent a reoccurrence of the complained about behaviour, including reviewing practices and procedures.

This policy will be kept under review by the trustees of Rwanda Action as part of the charity’s general risk management audit.

Approved December 2023

Review date: December 2024