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Swimmer Safeguarding Procedure

We Swim is committed to providing an environment in which all swimmers & volunteers (regardless of age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, ability or disability) participating in its activities have a safe and positive experience and are protected from harm.

As a Volunteer it is important to know:

  • Identification of types of and signs of abuse
  • Procedure for dealing with a safeguarding issue
  • Volunteer Code of Conduct & Our Commitment To You

Identifying Abuse

Abuse is a violation of an individual’s human and civil rights by another person. It may be single or repeated acts, and they may be in immediate or longer term danger.

The likelihood of the workforce encountering a serious situation is extremely low, so there is no need to be overly worried. Although it can be unpleasant to consider the reality of abuse, it is important to know what the five different types of abuse and their potential signs are, in case a swimmer / service user indicates or discloses that they are at risk. We are all responsible for safeguarding service users from abuse.

Different types and signs of abuse

Physical abuse is when someone is deliberately hurt or injured by someone. Physical abuse may involve:

  • Hitting, kicking, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating or otherwise causing physical harm.
  • Physical harm can also be caused through the omission or the failure to act to protect the person.

Signs of physical abuse include:

  • Injuries or marks with inconsistent or unconvincing explanations
  • Untreated or inadequately treated injuries
  • Burn marks, human bite marks, bruises with finger or hand marks, scalding

Changes in behaviour that can also indicate physical abuse:

  • Flinching when approached
  • Withdrawn behaviour or depression
  • Reluctance to get changed e.g. removing jumper in hot weather
  • Aggressive behaviour or severe temper outbursts

Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional maltreatment such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on someone’s emotional development. Emotional abuse may involve:

  • Conveying to a service user that they are worthless, unloved or inadequate,
  • Bullying such as humiliating, threatening, or shouting at someone,
  • Not recognising a service user’s own individuality or trying to control their lives
  • Manipulating, blaming, scapegoating or making someone perform degrading acts
  • Seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another

People who are emotionally abused are usually suffering another type of abuse or neglect at the same time – but this isn’t always the case.

  • Signs of emotional abuse include:
  • Sudden speech disorders
  • Neurotic behaviour e.g. sulking, hair-twisting, rocking
  • Failing to thrive or grow

Changes in behaviour that can also indicate emotional abuse include:

  • Self-harming
  • Fear of making mistakes
  • Attention seeking behaviour
  • Inappropriate relationships with peers and/or adults

Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing someone to take part in sexual activities (including prostitution) whether or not the person is aware of what is happening. Sometimes the person won’t understand that what is happening to them is abuse. They may not even understand that it’s wrong. The person does not have to experience physical contact to be sexually abused and it can happen online.

Vulnerable adults can be sexually abused by males and/or females, by adults and other vulnerable adults. This includes people from all different walks of life. Sexual abuse includes:

  • Encouraging someone to engage in sexual activity, including penetrative or non-penetrative acts.
  • Non-contact activities such as showing someone images of sexual activity, including photographs, videos or via webcams.

Signs of sexual abuse include:

  • Discomfort when walking or sitting down
  • Stomach pains
  • Pregnancy

Changes in behaviour that can also indicate sexual abuse include:

  • Fear of being left with a specific person or group of people
  • Sexual knowledge which is beyond their age or developmental level
  • Acting in sexually explicit ways with adults

Abuse can happen on social media as well as in the real world. Possible indicators of online abuse will be the same as those of real world abuse, and online abuse is just as serious.

Neglect is the persistent failure to meet someone’s basic physical and/or psychological needs which is likely to result in the serious impairment of the person’s health or development. A service user may be left hungry or dirty, without adequate clothing, shelter, supervision, medical or health care. Neglect includes a parent or carer failing to:

  • Protect a service user from physical and emotional harm or danger.
  • Ensure adequate supervision and access to appropriate medical care or treatment for a service user.

Signs of neglect may include:

  • Loss of weight or being constantly underweight
  • Constantly dirty or smelly
  • Inappropriate dress for the conditions

Changes in behaviour that also indicate neglect include:

  • Complaining of being tired all the time
  • Not requesting medical assistance and/or failing to attend appointments
  • Mentioning being left alone or unsupervised

Financial abuse is often hard to detect. It might look like:

  • Borrowing money and not giving it back
  • Stealing money or belongings
  • Taking money as payment for coming to visit or spending time together
  • Forcing someone to make changes in wills, property or inheritance

Signs of financial abuse may include:

  • Unexplained money loss
  • Lack of, or changes in money to pay for essentials such as rent, bills and food
  • Inability to access or check bank accounts and bank balance.

Financial abuse is often hard to detect. It might look like:

  • Borrowing money and not giving it back
  • Stealing money or belongings
  • Taking money as payment for coming to visit or spending time together
  • Forcing someone to make changes in wills, property or inheritance

Signs of financial abuse may include:

  • Unexplained money loss
  • Lack of, or changes in money to pay for essentials such as rent, bills and food
  • Inability to access or check bank accounts and bank balance.

Procedure for dealing with a disclosure or suspicion of abuse

Ways that abuse might be brought to your attention:

  • Direct disclosure
  • Disclosure about another person
  • Worrying information or signs of concern in someone’s appearance / behaviour

To report a disclosure or suspicion of abuse use our online form here.

If someone discloses abuse or suspected abuse the procedure is to:

  • Reassure them, remember that this is not an easy thing for them to do.
  • Ensure they are not in need of immediate medical attention /danger.
  • Let them know that you cannot keep anything confidential. You will report to WeSwim safeguarding officer who will decide what to do next with their consent.
  • Allow them to tell his or her whole story without interruption. Don’t try to investigate or quiz them, but make sure that you are clear as to what he/she is saying.
  • Ask only clarifying questions, using their own words to ensure that you understand what they have told you.
  • Don’t trivialise or exaggerate the issue, coach or lead the conversation in any way.
  • Ask what they need right now
  • Explain you will report to WeSwim safeguarding officer who will decide what will happen next with their consent.
  • Continue to reassure them.
  • Make a full record of the nature of the allegation and other relevant information. Use initials for names in written notes.
  • Inform the director / safeguarding officer immediately. You can register the disclosure online here
  • The record/handwritten notes should be kept safe, treated with the strictest confidentiality and physically handed to the Managing Director as soon as possible.
  • Remember that you are not responsible for deciding whether abuse has occurred. This is a task for Social Services or the Police following a referral from We Swim’s Safeguarding Officer.

If someone is in need of emergency medical attention or in immediate danger, contact 999 and stay with them.

Confidentiality / Privacy

It is important to respect individuals’ rights to privacy and not to discuss people’s personal information with other swimmers or volunteers.

Safeguarding issues or concerns should only be discussed with the safeguarding officers. If someone is in immediate physical danger, volunteers should contact the emergency services and report to the safeguarding officers as a matter of urgency.

All other safeguarding concerns should be reported to the safeguarding officers as soon as possible. If sending an email or leaving a voicemail then personal initials should be used.

Whistleblowing and external allegations against We Swim representatives

We Swim is committed to being an open, honest and accountable organisation and encourages a free and open culture. If someone is concerned that a colleague is behaving inappropriately towards a swimmer, or acting in a way that is contrary to the Safeguarding and Vulnerable Adults policy, they should disclose their concerns to the Managing Director, without fear of exposure or retaliation. All concerns will be treated with the utmost confidence irrespective of the subject of the report.

If their concern relates to one Director it should be raised with the other Director, the accused should not be informed about the allegation at this point.

Safeguarding Officers

We Swim have designated persons responsible for acting as a source of advice on matters concerning the safeguarding and protection of all users. In the event of suspected or actual cases of abuse they are responsible for co-ordinating action within the organisation and for making a referral to the appropriate statutory agencies. They are Directors Tash Fleming & Dan Grey.

Tash Fleming- Director – Designated Person for Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults – tash@weswim.club

Dan Grey – Director – Deputy designated person for Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults – dan@weswim.club