Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy

Fighting Words adheres to the very highest standards of protection for children, young people and vulnerable adults.

We are committed to safeguarding the well-being of children and vulnerable adults who are participating in events run at our centres, online and at off-site locations.

Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection at Fighting Words

Our aim is to create a safe, creative and enjoyable environment where children and vulnerable adults of all abilities can engage in storytelling and creative writing and where their protection and welfare is paramount. To this end, we adhere to the Children First Act 2015 and all associated guidelines, as well as Safeguarding Vulnerable Persons at Risk of Abuse: National Policy and Procedures, published by the Health Service Executive.

Everyone working with children and vulnerable adults has a responsibility for their well-being and protection, including those working as staff members or volunteers at Fighting Words through the organisation’s educational programmes and activities.   We have a collective responsibility to ensure that the children and vulnerable adults we work with are encouraged and helped in their creative work and that this should take place in a safe and protected environment.

The Fighting Words’ policy and guidelines for child and vulnerable adult protection and promotes codes of behaviour so that everyone is aware of the standards of behaviour of both children and adults.  All staff and volunteers are required to adhere to this code. 

All staff and volunteers at Fighting Words will be made aware of the policy and procedure and child/vulnerable adult protection will be covered in detail as part of the induction and training programme.

As part of their terms of employment, all staff will be required to report any concerns over behaviour or other evidence that may potentially indicate the presence of child or vulnerable adult abuse.


Policy Statement

Fighting Words’ child and vulnerable adult protection policy stems from the following principles:

  • The safety and welfare of children and vulnerable adults is everyone’s responsibility.
  • The welfare of the child and vulnerable adult is paramount. This is the guiding principle underpinning all our work with children and vulnerable adults.  
  • Per the Child Care Act 1991, a child is defined as a person under the age of 18 years, excluding a person who is or has been married.  This definition includes the term young people.
  • A vulnerable person is defined as an adult who may be restricted in capacity to guard themselves against harm or exploitation or to report such harm or exploitation. The restriction of capacity may arise as a result of physical or intellectual impairment. Vulnerability to abuse is influenced by both context (e.g. social or personal circumstances) and individual circumstances.[1]
  • All children and vulnerable adults, regardless of age, any disability they may have, gender, race[2], family status, marital status, religious belief, sexual orientation, membership of the Traveller community, geographical location, or socio-economic status[3] have a right to protection from abuse.
  • The need to comply with current statutory requirements and guidance on the protection of children and vulnerable adults.

The primary functions of this policy are the promotion of a safe environment for children and vulnerable adults, the prevention of abuse and the protection of staff and volunteers through the application of a Code of Behaviour, which is included in the policy.

  • Safe and protected environment:  The safety and welfare of children and vulnerable adults is paramount. The most important function of this policy is to create a safe and protected environment for children and vulnerable adults to enjoy storytelling and creative writing. 
  • Prevention and education:  This policy also aims to prevent abuse from occurring and to educate staff and volunteers on the subject and to build their capacity to pre-empt abuse.

Scope

This policy is applicable to all staff employed by Fighting Words and also applies to all volunteers, including visiting writers and artists, as well as at both centre-based programmes, online and external Fighting Words-sponsored events and activities.

It is the responsibility of the General Manager to ensure that every new staff member and volunteer:

  1. Receives a copy of the Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy[4]
  2. Understands and signs the Code of Behaviour
  3. Receives training on the subject matter

All staff members and volunteers will:

  1. Be provided with an adequate level of supervision, support and review of work practice
  2. Be provided with child protection training at induction
  3. Writers, artists and volunteers doing one-off or sessional work will be issued with an information pack and required to sign a copy of the child and vulnerable adult protection policy
  4. All volunteers, including visiting writers and artists, will agree to abide by the Fighting Words Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy

Fighting Words has implemented policies and procedures covering the following with regard to child and vulnerable adult protection:

  1. Code of behaviour for all staff and volunteers
  2. Reporting of suspected or disclosed abuse
  3. Confidentiality
  4. Recruitment and selection of staff
  5. Management and supervision of staff and volunteers
  6. Involvement of parents/carers
  7. Staff allegations
  8. Complaints and comments
  9. Accidents

Child Safeguarding Statement: Relevant Service and Relevant Person

The Children First Act 2015 defines a ‘provider’ as “a person—

(a) who provides a relevant service, and

(b) who, in respect of the provision of such relevant service—

(i) employs (whether under contract of employment or otherwise) one or

more than one other person to undertake any work or activity that constitutes

a relevant service,

(ii) enters into a contract for services with one or more than one other person

for the provision by the person of a relevant service, or

(iii) permits one or more than one other person (whether or not for

commercial or other consideration and whether or not as part of a course of

education or training, including an internship scheme) to undertake any work

or activity, on behalf of the person, that constitutes a relevant service”.

Under the Children First Act 2015, Fighting Words is a relevant service providing creative writing programmes to children and young people. As such, we will ensure, as far as practicable, that all children are safe from harm while availing of our services.

Per the Children First Act 2015, Fighting Words has:

  • Performed assessment of any potential for harm to a child while availing of our services;
  • Prepared a written Child Safeguarding Statement specifying the service being provided and the principles and procedures to be observed to ensure as far as practicable, that a child, while availing of the service, is safe from harm for use at all Fighting Words locations;
  • Appointed a Relevant Person
  • Displays the child safeguarding statement in a prominent place where the relevant service concerned relates or is provided, or both, as may be appropriate.

Relevant Person

The relevant person is the first point of contact in relation to the Child Safeguarding Statement; their name and contact details should be included in the Child Safeguarding Statement.

The Relevant Person is Sara Bennett, General Manager.

Notes

[1] Safeguarding Vulnerable Persons at Risk of Abuse: National Policy and Procedures, FAQ, December 2014, p.1

[2] While the term ‘race’ is used here as it appears in Ireland's equality legislation, Fighting Words recognises that it denotes a biological or scientific difference in human beings, a theory long discredited and to which the organisation does not subscribe.

[3] These are the nine protected grounds outlined in the Fighting Words Equal Opportunities Policy and in line with the Employment Equality Acts 1998-2015 and the Equal Status Acts 2000-2015.

[4] Copies of the policy will be sent out with the offer of employment or volunteer information pack (as applicable), which must be signed and returned with the contract of employment or volunteer agreement.

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