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Safeguarding vulnerable people policy

Policy statement

The normal definition of a person who is vulnerable is a child, children or an adult over the age of 18 years who is, or may be unable to protect themselves against harm or exploitation by reason of age, illness, trauma, disability or any other reason.

Farm Africa’s position on protecting children from harm can be found in our child protection policy.

Farm Africa recognises that the adults that we typically work with wouldn’t normally be considered as vulnerable, however, the impact of the poverty they experience may place us as an organisation, and our staff in a position of influence and authority that could be open to abuse.

It is important to have a safeguarding policy and procedures in place so that staff, including senior managers, volunteers, consultants, agency workers, trustees and partners recognise abuse and know what actions to take to prevent it.

The Policy Statement and Procedures have been drawn up in order to enable Farm Africa to:

  • promote good practice and work in a way that can prevent harm, abuse and coercion occurring
  • to ensure that any allegations of abuse or suspicions are dealt with appropriately and the person experiencing abuse receives support us and from the appropriate authorities
  • to stop the abuse occurring.

The policy applies to all staff, including senior managers, volunteers, consultants, agency workers, trustees and partners and anyone working on behalf of Farm Africa.

In order to implement the policy Farm Africa will work:

  •  to promote the rights of the people we work with to live free from abuse and coercion
  • to ensure the well-being of people we work with
  • to manage our work in a way that promotes safety and prevents abuse
  • to recruit staff and volunteers safely, ensuring all appropriate employment references are obtained
  • to ensure that all staff, volunteers, consultants, agency workers, trustees, partners and anyone working on behalf of Farm Africa are aware of Farm Africa’s code of conduct and this policy
  • to provide effective management for staff and volunteers through supervision, support and training

In order to respect these rights, Farm Africa’s Code of Conduct requires anyone working on behalf of Farm Africa to:

1.     Treat people with dignity and respect

2.     Ensure their personal and professional conduct is of the highest standard

3.     Take responsibility for their own safety, health and welfare and for those they manage and work with

4.     To act with the upmost financial integrity

5.     To protect Farm Africa’s reputation in how they behave

6.     To steward (use) Farm Africa’s assets wisely

7.     To make a commitment to report any incident or concern of a breach of the Code of Conduct

Safeguarding processes

Farm Africa is committed to putting in place safeguards and measures to reduce the likelihood of harm taking place within its work and to ensure that all those involved with Farm Africa’s work will be treated with respect.

Therefore this policy needs to be read in conjunction with the following policies:

  • Equal Rights and Diversity
  • Non-harassment Policy
  • Child protection
  • Whistle Blowing
  • Confidentiality
  • Disciplinary and Grievance
  • Recruitment and Selection
  • Anti-bribery, corruption and money laundering policy

Farm Africa is committed to Safer Recruitment policies and practices for staff. We will ensure that appropriate employment references are taken up and adequate training on safeguarding is provided to all staff with responsibilities for human resources and/or leading recruitment processes.

Recognising signs of abuse

Farm Africa is committed to ensuring that all staff with human resources responsibilities and those working directly with communities undertake training to gain basic awareness of signs and symptoms or harm and abuse.

Farm Africa defines harm and abuse as a violation of an individual’s human rights (dignity, fairness, equality, respect and independence) by any other person or persons.

That may include:

  • physical abuse: slapping, punching, pinching or spitting
  • sexual abuse: rape, indecent assault, inappropriate touching or exposure to pornographic material
    psychological or emotional abuse including belittling, name calling, threats of harm, intimidation or isolation
    financial or material abuse: including stealing, selling assets, fraud, misuse or misappropriation of property or possession
  • discriminatory abuse: including racist, sexist, that based on a person’s disability and other forms of harassment, slurs or similar treatment
  • Abuse may be a single act or repeated acts.

Responsibilities 

This policy applies to all staff, including senior managers, volunteers, consultants, agency workers, trustees, partners and anyone working on behalf of Farm Africa and managers must ensure that everyone working in connection with Farm Africa is made aware of it.

Country Directors, the Director of Programmes and the Head of Human Resources are responsible for ensuring the implementation of all aspects of the Safeguarding Policy in the areas of the business for which they are responsible. The Chief Executive holds overall responsibility for implementation of the policy.

Any member of staff found breaching this policy will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal. Others breaching this policy will be subject to appropriate action such as ending a relationship with a volunteer relationship, termination of a contract.

Farm Africa will also report concerns to the relevant local authority and the police.

Transportation

The transporting of beneficiaries should be carefully considered. Resources such as seat belts must be used if beneficiaries are being transported to ensure their safety.

Communication about beneficiaries

In its communication and fundraising strategy, Farm Africa may at times use images and recordings of beneficiaries. Farm Africa has a responsibility towards to ensure that the people portrayed are treated with dignity as humans with rights by avoiding the following:

  • Inaccurate representation through words and images
  • Communication that shames degrades or victimizes beneficiaries
  • Taking pictures or statements from individuals without informed consent
  • Depicting individuals in sexually provocative poses
  • No personal and physical information to identify the location of an individual that could put them at risk, to be put on website or used in communications.
  • The purpose for which images or information on individuals is to be obtained must be clearly explained and understood, and informed consent must come from the individual. In the UK there are systems in place in most institutions to gain and record consent. Outside the UK the Farm Africa Project Coordinator (or other senior staff member) should complete the ‘FA Media Consent Form’ to show that this has been verbally obtained.
  • A copy of the ‘FA Media Consent Form’ shall be retained by Farm Africa, and use of the personal data shall be carefully monitored and kept secure and within the control of Farm Africa.

Reporting concerns

Farm Africa believes that everyone has a responsibility to prevent harm and abuse. Anyone who has concerns can discuss their concerns with either their line manager, or where they feel this is not appropriate their country or department director, or if they prefer they can raise their concerns anonymously using our confidential reporting address: confidential@farmafrica.org

Full details of reporting concerns and whistle blowing can be found in the Whistle Blowing/ Protected Disclosure policy.

Farm Africa will respond to allegations of harm or abuse by:

  • suspending the member of staff accused, pending the disciplinary process
  • immediately reporting the accusation to the appropriate local authorities
  • where appropriate conducting a thorough investigation, as part of our disciplinary policy
  • supporting any criminal investigation

Single or repeated incidents of harm or abuse will be considered as gross misconduct and will result in dismissal without notice.

The Head of Human Resources will be responsible for ensuring that all reports of harm or abuse are logged and reported in line with this policy.

All incidents will be reported to the board of trustees

All incidents will be reported to the local authority and the police

Where an incident is proven and meets the definitions of a serious incident, it will be reported to the Charity Commission, through its serious incident reporting process.

Procedure and timing for the review of this policy

This policy will be reviewed as a minimum every three years. Comments or suggestions on how this policy is operating should be sent to the Head of Human Resources.

Recruitment safeguards

Safe recruitment processes

Safe recruitment practices are essential to ensure Child Protection and Safeguarding. Abuse and exploitation can occur anywhere and Farm Africa recognises that as an INGO, the impact of the poverty that our beneficiaries experience may place us as an organisation, and our staff in a position of influence and authority that could be open to abuse.

Therefore recruiting managers/HR representatives must: 

  •  Identify and include, as part of the interview, any gaps in a candidate’s job history to clarify the reasons for these gaps to their satisfaction.
  • Where interviewing the panel must include specific questions that probe the applicants attitude, experience and approach to working with children and/or managing the power dynamic created by poverty
  • Where appropriate, conduct criminal record checks (for example when recruiting for staff who will be working directly with children)
  • Ensure that job offers are made conditionally and subject to satisfactory employment references.

Guidance on obtaining employment references

Employment reference must always come from the previous employer. Often candidates provide the name and contact details of a manager who has moved on from the organisation where they worked together. References obtained in this way are not employment references, they are personal references.  Please ensure that you always contact the previous employer organisation directly, or only contact managers that are still working for the previous employer.

Procedure and timing for the review of this policy

This policy will be reviewed as a minimum every three years. Comments or suggestions on how this policy is operating should be sent to the Head of Human Resources.