Keeping friends and family safe

Documentaries like Athlete A have highlighted the importance of safeguarding. But there are lots of things you can do to keep your friends and family safe in their chosen activities.

For your own piece of mind and your loved ones’ safety, you’ll want to check that the activity they are joining is well run and safe. This page provides advice and resources to help you navigate safeguarding issues. It covers the questions you might have when considering a new activity for a vulnerable individual, as well as things to look out for. We’ve also included practical advice of what to do if you are concerned for a loved one’s safety.

Your questions answered

What should I check to make sure an activity is well run and safe?

All clubs and organisations should have certain things in place to make sure that all participants are kept safe and looked after throughout sessions.

Organisations should be open and happy to share their policies with you. You have a right to know this information.

They should:

  • Have a written policy and procedure for safeguarding.
  • Give you the name of their welfare or child protection officer.
  • Ask you to provide essential medical and emergency contact information.
  • Get your consent for your child to participate.
  • Be able to let you know how they check their staff are safe to work with vulnerable individuals.
  • Have a written code of conduct that staff and volunteers must follow.

What questions should I ask?

There are some questions you can ask to establish if an activity is right for your friends and family. These can help you find out how the club or organisation is prepared to prevent harm or risk to vulnerable individuals.

  • Do they have a safeguarding policy?
  • Who is their welfare/child protection or safeguarding officer?
  • What should you do if you have a concern?
  • How many staff/volunteers will be supervising the activity?
  • What is expected of their staff/volunteers and how they are expected to behave?
  • Do they have Health and Safety procedures in place and what are they?

What should I look out for?

There are a number of different things to look out for when protecting vulnerable friends and family taking part in physical activity. If an activity provider does not have the previously listed policies and procedures in place this is a sign of poor practice and that they are not protecting vulnerable individuals.

Signs of an activity being unsafe are:

  • Failing to ensure children are safe, exposing them to unnecessary risk and failing to ensure the use of safety equipment.
  • Requiring vulnerable individuals to participate when injured or unwell.
  • If sanctions involve inflicting pain.
  • The encouragement to use drugs or substances to enhance performance or delay puberty.
  • Subjecting vulnerable individuals to repeated criticism, sarcasm, name calling or racism.
  • Poor Practice – such as being intoxicated, smoking and swearing in front of vulnerable participants.
  • Giving one participant more attention than others or encouraging physical contact without reason.

For further information on abuse in a physical activity setting visit the CPSU site .

What do I do if I have a concern?

If you are worried an individual is at risk and being abused or harmed during sports activities, it’s important that you talk to someone.

Talking to someone may be a daunting experience but by sharing your concern you are protecting the individual at risk. The person you talk to will be trained to deal with such situations and is there to help you.

All clubs should have guidelines for recording and reporting concerns. You should find out what these are and follow them.

Who to contact for help:

  • If you think the individual is in immediate danger you should contact the police on 999.
  • When there is no immediate danger you can talk to the club’s safeguarding/welfare or child protection officer. If they are unable to help you, they will have the contact details for services who can.
  • If you’re unsure who to speak to, you can call the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000 for advice.

For further information:

CPSU Information for Parents

Advice and guidance so you can make sure your child and other children are having the best experiences of sport.

Visit site

Sport England Advice for Parents and Carers

Cover the key points you should consider when choosing a sports club, coached session or activity.

Visit site

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