We’ve all seen the recent media spotlight on well-known charities’ safeguarding failures and the wider fallout for our sector as a whole. As with the fundraising scandals of 2015, the general public expect charities to meet very high ethical standards, and where they fall short, public confidence in our sector is diminished. So risk and safeguarding have never been so important to how charities carry out their activities.

The Scottish Charity Regulator has made safeguarding a top priority and published guidance on keeping vulnerable beneficiaries safe, and the key steps to make sure safeguarding is considered in an appropriate way. Trustees need to have up to date and appropriate policies to address key risks and maintain safeguarding.

Safeguarding should be a key priority for all charities, not just those working with groups traditionally considered at risk. Charities have a wider responsibility to promote the wellbeing and welfare of all the individuals they work with. Trustees should aim to provide a safe environment for anyone who comes into contact with their charity – be it beneficiaries, employees, or volunteers. Safeguarding needs to be proactive and preventative, and with this in mind SCVO has organised two free seminars on safeguarding with our Pro Bono Service partners.

They’ll focus on the following:

  • Trustee duties and good governance. Using the new Scottish Governance Code to help ensure your board focusses on leadership and behaviour, accountability and transparency
  • OSCR guidance on safeguarding and Notifiable Events, and the role of other regulators
  • Legal issues, including employer responsibilities, the PVG Scheme, GDPR, confidentiality

The first seminar will take place in Edinburgh on Thursday 27 September, 5-7pm at MacRoberts, the second in Aberdeen at Stronachs on Tuesday 30 October, 3-5pm. Safeguarding failures can not only have a devastating impact on your charity’s beneficiaries, staff and supporters, they can also cause damage to the wider third sector, harming public trust and damaging reputations. There’s a big challenge for us all around the cultural shift required to ‘keep everyone safe’, and to allow those affected to feel safe to report incidents and know that such reports will be dealt with properly. These seminars will be a useful starting point.