Safeguarding Policy For Volunteers
All volunteer team leaders and their team members need to be familiar with the following key extracts from our Safeguarding (Child Protection) Policy. It is a condition both of registration with OPEN THE BOOK and of participating in Bible storytelling in schools that our Safeguarding Policy is understood, implemented and observed.
THE KEY POINTS
"All storytellers agree to fulfil the relevant safeguarding requirements."
(From OPEN THE BOOK's Code of Practice)
"We require all volunteer storytellers to undergo the necessary Criminal Records
Bureau checks through their own church or denominational procedures.
The responsibility for this lies entirely with the individual team and the churches who send them into their local school.
It is neither the role nor responsibility of OPEN THE BOOK."
(From the revised versions of OPEN THE BOOK's Year 1, 2 and 3 Handbooks -
'How does OPEN THE BOOK operate?')
OPEN THE BOOK is a movement overseen by trustees and supported by a National Co-ordinator. It is made up of teams of volunteers from local churches that exercise responsibility for them. Each team operates independently, but is expected to do so within the guidelines and Code of Practice set out.
OPEN THE BOOK is not responsible for recruiting volunteers or for placing teams in schools. OPEN THE BOOK will always be mindful about safeguarding any employees, volunteer staff and trustees.
We believe that all human beings are of equal worth in the sight of God and aim to follow Biblical principles in all that we do. Therefore:
- We commit ourselves to the nurture, protection, and safekeeping of all, especially children and young people.
- It is the responsibility of each one of us to protect children and young people from physical, sexual and emotional abuse, and to report any abuse suspected or discovered.
- OPEN THE BOOK activities in schools should be carried out in such a way that neither children nor storytellers are in vulnerable positions regarding possible abuse.
OPEN THE BOOK has adopted the above principles. In order to implement them, OPEN THE BOOK requires all involved and especially volunteer storytellers to commit to following the guidelines and procedures outlined in this document and in the Code of Practice.
"All storytellers agree to: Fulfil the relevant safeguarding requirements"
Safe from Harm, the government's Code of Practice for Safeguarding the Welfare of Children in Voluntary Organisations in England and Wales, made the following recommendations which OPEN THE BOOK sets out to follow, as outlined below:
- Plan the work of the organisation so as to minimise situations where the abuse of children may occur
- As the work of OPEN THE BOOK always takes place openly in school assemblies/Collective Worship with a responsible teacher, or teachers present, and is always carried out by a team of adults together, situations should not arise where an OPEN THE BOOK volunteer is alone with an individual child.
- Our materials make it quite clear to volunteers that they are not to allow such a situation to occur. OPEN THE BOOK teams are always viewed as visitors in the school and their visits are pre-arranged according to a regular schedule.
- Nevertheless, because children may come to trust OPEN THE BOOK storytellers because of their regular visits to schools, OPEN THE BOOK articulates clear expectations regarding CRB checks for all storytellers. It also discourages the involvement of storytellers who are not linked to their local church community.
- OPEN THE BOOK recognises that it is the responsibility of the school to seek written confirmation from the relevant church(es) that all team members have been CRB checked in advance.
- All churches must have a Safeguarding Policy and should confirm that they are the holders of checks on all team members.
- The relevant requirement is clearly stated in the introduction to each OPEN THE BOOK handbook, which each volunteer is expected to possess and use on a regular basis.
- Apply agreed procedures for protecting children to all staff and volunteers
All OPEN THE BOOK trustees, paid staff and volunteer storytellers from local churches are required to undergo the necessary Criminal Record Bureau checks through the denominational procedures of the churches of which they are members or to which they are affiliated. OPEN THE BOOK makes this clear in their materials.
It places responsibility on individual team leaders to have checked each storyteller's original CRB documentation as held by the various churches and to have made a written record of this.
The National Co-ordinator distributes and makes copies of the policy statement available.
- Give all staff and volunteers clear roles
All staff and volunteers are given a written copy of the Code of Practice, and information about the procedures and methods of operation of OPEN THE BOOK. Our handbooks contain all the essential information. Each Information Pack makes clear our Safeguarding requirements.
- Use supervision as a means of protecting children
All teams have an identified team leader who plans and reviews their voluntary work. They are accountable to their local church leaders and safeguarding officers. They will always liaise closely with the school authorities.
In the event of any OPEN THE BOOK volunteer becoming aware of any child protection or safeguarding issue, they will report it immediately to the relevant head-teacher.
To download a copy of this page (Key Points), please click here.