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Safeguarding Policy

Designated Safeguarding Officer (DSO): Nell Hardy


Policy Purpose

Response Ability Theatre (RAT) works with survivors of trauma of all ages, and those at risk of experiencing trauma. The purposes of this policy are to:

  • provide stakeholders and the public with the principles that guide our approach in safeguarding these groups, as well as any other children, young people and vulnerable adults that engage in our activities;

  • set out the practices by which we commit to enacting these principles;

  • provide information to all who work with us on how they should respond if they receive a disclosure, or if they have other reason to believe that a child, young person or vulnerable adult is experiencing, or at risk of, harm.


Safeguarding Principles

We recognise that:

  • abuse is never acceptable;

  • all people, regardless of age, gender identity, disability, ethnicity, sexual orientation, social class, religious belief, professional status and other factors of identity, have a right to equal protection from all forms of harm and abuse;

  • working in partnership with children, young people, vulnerable adults, their parents, carers and other agencies is essential in promoting safeguarding;

  • good safeguarding is a culture, not a reaction, and it is in establishing a habitual culture built on listening, respect, collaboration and empathy, that we can best prevent harm and abuse in our workplaces, rather than simply responding to it when it occurs;

  • the welfare of the child, young person or vulnerable adult is paramount;

  • welfare and psychological health for many of our participants is partly and crucially maintained through creative fulfilment. We acknowledge their right to practice their creativity alongside their right to practical safety and physical health in our safeguarding of them;

  • all adults can become vulnerable at any time in their life, and adults known to be vulnerable have varying levels of independence that change over time. All safeguarding actions should be taken in recognition of this, and person-centred approaches seeing where the individual is and giving them as much autonomy over how much support they want and need as possible should be used in all instances.



This safeguarding policy applies to anyone working on our behalf, including our staff, freelancers, trustees and other volunteers.


Partner organisations will be required either to have their own safeguarding procedures that meet the standards outlined below, or to commit to our procedures in work undertaken with us. Where processes are of equal robustness but differ, an agreement of mutual practice for any partnership projects must be agreed.


Culture of safeguarding

To create a culture of safeguarding in our work, we:

  • invite all who work with us, whether as staff, freelancers, trustees and other volunteers, and paid or unpaid participants in projects spanning more than one session, to complete an accessibility form in which they can inform us of any access needs, and the name and contact details of a key worker and/or next of kin whom we may contact in the event of an emergency. As part of this, we will invite participants to mention any distress triggers if it makes them feel safer to do so, explaining that we will not always be able to avoid mention of these altogether, but will aim to manage them sensitively should they arise. We will make clear that all information provided (other than contact details, which will only be shared with the DSO and producer(s) on the project), will be shared with all facilitators and welfare staff on the project. The information received will contribute to our risk assessment process for the project and will be discussed between the facilitators and Welfare Leads to prepare appropriately.

  • ask parents of children and young people under 18 either to fill this out on the participant's behalf, or confirm by writing that they consent to their participation and are satisfied for them to handle their own paperwork.

  • start all projects lasting more than one session by creating a group agreement, allowing all participants the opportunity to state what they need to do their best work, and co-create decisions on working practice based on negotiation of these needs.

  • create space at the beginning and end of each meeting, session or day briefly to check in with all in the space and address any needs or concerns.

  • commit to having at least one designated Welfare Lead present at any session with children, young people or vulnerable adults, who is not also the main facilitator of the session. This can be a volunteer, assistant or co-facilitator and/or also a participant, so long as they are DBS checked and have read and understood this safeguarding policy. We will strive to have two welfare leads in place on projects lasting more than one session, to allow for one to remain in the room if the other needs to leave to support a participant, where this is workable.

  • participants and any relevant parents, carers or key workers will be made aware of the process to follow if they have a concern or complaint. This will be in the first instance to contact the DSO; or, if they are not comfortable doing so, the first Welfare Lead. If this doesn't satisfactorily manage the situation, the first Welfare Lead or complainant may contact the trustees.


Employment checks

Every project we run will have enough DBS checked staff on hand to make sure there is always a DBS checked member of staff in the space, and nobody without a valid DBS check is left on their own with children, young people or vulnerable adults. Where possible and necessary, we will organise for this check to be done through our organisation.


In the event that a member of staff has a history of offending, the line manager will discuss these with the employee before appointment and a risk assessment will be carried out to ascertain the current level of risk and potential impact on their capacity to fulfil the role. RAT adheres to guidance in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (1974) and does not discriminate on the basis of a persons’ history of convictions or cautions but will make a fair and balanced judgement based on their ability to fulfil the role safely and sufficiently.


All freelancers, staff, trustees or volunteers who work with us will be asked to read this policy and confirm that they have understood it before working with us. If this is the worker’s first experience of working with children, young people or vulnerable adults, we will talk them through this policy for certainty.


Types of abuse

Abuse can take many forms, including physical, emotional, psychological, sexual, financial, spiritual, discriminatory, domestic, institutional, and coercive control, neglect and exploitation including modern slavery. To avoid unnecessarily retraumatising survivors who work with us and are familiar with the types and signs of abuse, we are not detailing them on this policy, but request that any workers who are not confident in their knowledge consult the Social Care Institute for Excellence’s website. If you do not feel safe going through them on your own, or you have never done any safeguarding training before, please let us know and we will talk them through with you.


If you receive a disclosure

Workers may become aware of safeguarding concerns in a number of ways, including:

  • receiving an allegation directly.

  • receiving an allegation from someone who is not the person being mistreated.

  • developing a strong suspicion based on your own observations or experience.


In all cases, any worker should report concerns to the DSO, who will ensure that the appropriate procedure is carried out. If the concern is about the DSO and it doesn’t feel possible to raise it with them, either raise it with a Welfare Lead on the project or with the trustees.


If there is immediate danger or someone needs urgent medical attention, the worker should call the police or an ambulance and then contact the DSO.


If no one is in immediate danger, make a note of what has happened, what you have been told, and/or what you have seen, in as much detail as possible. This should include date, time and place of the alleged incident/abuse if this has been disclosed, and the date, time and place of the disclosure or observation. Notes should highlight what is known to be fact, and what may be a staff member’s suspicion. Give these notes to the DSO within 24 hours of the incident or disclosure.


If a crime has or may have been committed in the working space, do not clean anything up before speaking to the DSO or the police.


When receiving a disclosure:

  • check if the survivor is comfortable talking to you where you are, or if they want to move to make sure they are out of anyone else’s earshot.

  • if you make notes during the disclosure, explain that you are doing this to have an accurate record of what is said, and can show them those notes afterwards if they wish to check them. If you prefer not to take notes during the disclosure, make them immediately afterwards.

  • be honest about the limits of your confidentiality. If the survivor asks you not to tell anyone, please do not promise them this. Explain that you have a duty to report any safeguarding concerns to the DSO, and that they may need to contact other support services if they deem the survivor or anyone else to be at risk - but that they will be consulted about who will be given this information and why.

  • listen more than you speak. If you ask any clarifying questions, make these open and not leading. An open question allows the speaker to give the answer they feel is right, rather than offering possible answers to them. For example, “Is there anything else you want to say about what happened?” is an open question, whereas “Did he hit you?” is a leading question. It is fine to check if the survivor feels complete in what they have disclosed, but do not push them to give more information than they are readily offering.

  • thank them for confiding in you, and/or congratulate them on their courage, to validate and assure them.

  • do not promise anything you do not know you can deliver (for example, that “everything will be alright”), and do not get directly involved (for example by offering to take someone home with you or giving someone money). If someone is not in immediate danger, the DSO will be the one to decide the next course of action.

  • encourage them to take time for themselves in the hours following their disclosure, and to think of who they could contact for support if they needed or wanted it (e.g. a friend or family member).

  • agree on your follow-up actions, gaining their permission if possible, and a timeframe for them. Stick to this.

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