voluntary sector

Raising Standards of Safeguarding Practice Across the Voluntary Sector

voluntary sector

08:45 - 16:20

Thursday 7 March 2019

Victoria Park Plaza, Central London


This Forum provides attendees with the opportunity to explore ways to meet the challenge of effectively safeguarding the welfare of those who come into contact with voluntary sector organisations, including vulnerable service users, staff and volunteers. Sector leaders will provide policy updates on key developments while case studies will share outstanding examples of safeguarding practice.


This Forum is specifically designed for the voluntary sector. Typical job titles will include:

  • Chairs
  • Trustees
  • Chief Executives
  • Corporate Governance Managers
  • Heads of External Relations
  • Policy Officers
  • Directors of Governance
  • Compliance and Risk Managers
  • Heads of Volunteering
  • Volunteer Coordinators
  • Heads of Human Resources
  • Recruitment Managers
Key Speakers Confirmed:
  • Michelle Russell, Director of Investigations, Monitoring and Enforcement, Charity Commission 
  • Stephen Twigg MP, Co-Chair, International Development Select Committee
  • Peter Taylor, Head of the Safeguarding Unit, Department for International Development (DfID)
View the agenda and additional speakers

In the wake of numerous allegations of misconduct and sexual abuse across the voluntary sector, the demand for more rigorous safeguarding practices for all charities has increased. Despite the Charity Commission receiving 2,114 serious incident reports relating to safeguarding between February and September 2018, the final report of their Safeguarding Taskforce, published in October 2018, highlighted concerns that significant under-reporting is still taking place. This follows the International Development Committee’s latest report into sexual exploitation and abuse in the aid sector which states that charities have shown ‘complacency verging on complicity’ when responding to sexual abuse.

The Charity Commission have made clear that any behaviours that put beneficiaries, staff, volunteers and members of the public at risk have no place within charities. The Commission issued an alert in December 2017 reminding charities of the importance of safeguarding, and the regulator’s updated Safeguarding Strategy (2017) clearly identifies safeguarding as a ‘key governance priority’ for all charities. However, in a recent survey conducted by Cass Business School, only 42% of respondents reported that their Board had sufficient safeguarding skills.

Safeguarding issues make up an increasing proportion of the Charity Commissions’ regulatory compliance case work; according to their annual report Tackling Abuse and Mismanagement, safeguarding concerns featured in 302 regulatory compliance cases in the 2016-17 period which is an 85% increase from the previous year. In addition, over half of the serious incidents reported by charities related to safeguarding.

Alongside the Charity Commission’s increased regulatory interventions on safeguarding, the Department for International Development (DFID) has committed to implementing new safeguarding standards for the organisations it works with, demonstrating the emphasis that is being placed on addressing safeguarding challenges within the voluntary sector. Building on this, in October 2018 the government announced a £2 million fund for investment in projects to raise awareness of safeguarding and improve incident handling.

In light of this increased scrutiny by government, regulators and the public, it is vital that charities have robust safeguarding policies and procedures in place. As well as maintaining their reputation, charities have a duty to protect beneficiaries, therefore organisations across the sector must ensure that they are upholding their safeguarding responsibilities and developing an organisational culture that prioritises safeguarding.

Michelle Russell, Director of Investigations, Monitoring and Enforcement, Charity Commission

Michelle Russell joined the Charity Commission in April 2002 as a lawyer and held various legal and senior management positions before she was appointed as Director of Investigations, Monitoring and Enforcement in October 2014. Prior to joining the commission, Michelle was a qualified solicitor in private practice.

As the Director of IME Michelle leads on Commission’s corporate strategies on counter-terrorism, fraud and financial abuse, and safeguarding issues, and working influentially across government and with regulators and law enforcement agencies in the UK and internationally on the abuse of charities and is responsible for:

  • investigations: the commission’s most serious and high risk cases
  • monitoring: proactively identifying potential non-compliance, carrying out compliance inspections and regulatory visits
  • intelligence: providing intelligence and overseeing our relationships with other public authorities
  • accountancy: providing accountancy support on case work and proactive scrutiny of accounts.

Michelle sits on a number of cross government and sector groups on terrorism and serious crime issues. She is a Visiting Lecturer at Cass Business School and a regular speaker on charity regulation and compliance issues nationally and internationally.



Stephen Twigg MP, Co-Chair, International Development Select Committee

Stephen Twigg MP was elected as Labour and Co-operative Member of Parliament for Liverpool, West Derby in 2010. Since June 2015, he has served as the Chair of the International Development Select Committee. The purpose of this committee is to scrutinise the work and spending of the Department for International Development. In July 2018, the Committee published its Report on Sexual exploitation and abuse in the aid sector and continue to give this issue high priority, tracking progress with a view to ensuring real improvement is made.



Peter Taylor, Head of the Safeguarding Unit, Department for International Development (DfID)

Over the past 25 years Peter has worked in international development in various NGO, consultancy, research and government roles in the UK and overseas. He has worked with DFID since 2001, with roles in the UK and overseas focused on humanitarian, human development, programme delivery, World Bank, EU and preventing sexual exploitation and abuse and sexual harassment.



Claire Robson, Head of Governance Legal and Compliance, Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity

Claire Robson has worked for Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity since February 2016. Claire acts as the Charity’s Data Protection Officer and is their appointed Head of Governance, Legal and Compliance. Prior to that she spent eleven years in the Health Sector specialising in Information Governance. Originally starting her career as a Chartered Secretary, qualifying with the ICSA in 2003, Claire first started specialising in Data Protection around 2000, implementing the Data Protection Act 1998. She completed a specialist Masters Degree in Information Rights Law and Practice in 2008 and has qualifications in Computer Forensics and Information Security. In December 2010, Claire had a Case Study Article published called “FOI Requests at an NHS Trust” in PDP’s Freedom of Information Journal. In June 2017, Claire successfully completed the ICSA Charity Law and Governance Certificate. Claire has wide and extensive knowledge within the field of information management and is leading GOSH Charity in their Governance, Legal and Data Protection Programme.




Registration, Refreshments and Networking


Chair’s Welcome Address

Ruth Leonard, Chair, Association of Volunteer Managers and Head of Volunteering Development, Macmillan Cancer Support (CONFIRMED)


Morning Keynote: Promoting Safeguarding as a Key Governance Priority

  • Setting out the supervisory and monitoring role of the Commission and its approach in its updated safeguarding strategy
  • Outlining the key duties and responsibilities of charities and their trustees on safeguarding
  • Providing an update on the interim safeguarding taskforce and sharing lessons from the safeguarding incidents reported
  • Providing an overview of the suite of measures adopted by the Charity Commission following recent allegations of misconduct and safeguarding failures across the voluntary sector
  • Highlighting the importance of reporting serious incidents at the earliest possible stage with full and frank disclosure and how the Commission assesses risk before intervening when safeguarding concerns arise

Michelle Russell, Director of Investigations, Monitoring and Enforcement, Charity Commission (CONFIRMED)


Special Keynote: Looking to the Future of Safeguarding Across the Aid Sector

  • Reflecting on the findings and recommendations of the IDC report on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in the Aid Sector
  • Considering the changes in practice and improvements that have been made since the inquiry and report release, and the impact of the rise in reports of misconduct
  • Highlighting the role of DfID in ensuring every project and programme has a built-in safeguarding policy, and how to ensure this is adequately resourced
  • Working with the Charity Commission to develop effective structures and systems for incident reporting, accessible to every single person in the sector, and delivering a clear action plan for following up on reports

Stephen Twigg MP, Co-Chair, International Development Select Committee (CONFIRMED)


Special Keynote: Raising the Standards of Safeguarding Across International Development

  • Why DFID remains focused on sexual exploitation and abuse and sexual harassment, and what approach is being taken to help drive up standards
  • Who we are working with in, and beyond, the voluntary sector
  • Progress made in the past year
  • Challenges and opportunities for the year ahead

Peter Taylor, Head of the Safeguarding Unit, Department for International Development (DfID) (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Case Study: Providing Tailored Safeguarding Training for Volunteers

  • Examining how Girlguiding’s commitment to a four-part A Safe Space training programme ensures that volunteers are enabled to recognise, respond and refer any safeguarding concerns, allegations and disclosers
  • Exploring how to manage any concern, allegation and disclosure, within the community and through volunteers
  • Considering the importance, when building A Safe Space, to acknowledge the need to support volunteers

Geraldine Costello, Interim Head of Safeguarding, Girlguiding (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Ensuring Effective Safeguarding Practices in Volunteer Recruitment and Management

  • Lessons learnt from a global volunteering programme and how to proactively reduce safeguarding risks and protect staff, volunteers and beneficiaries from harm
  • Implementing comprehensive recruitment procedures such as providing clear role descriptors and conducting interviews that explore a candidates’ commitment to safeguarding
  • Assessment of volunteers which assist in deterring those with an intent to cause harm and which identify support needs and assets
  • Ensuring that safeguarding measures are proportionate to the risks, context and resources available
  • How work with volunteers fits within a a whole organisation approach to safeguarding

Tom Burke, Freelance Consultant (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Lunch and Networking


Afternoon Keynote: Equipping Trustees with the Necessary Skills and Awareness to Uphold Safeguarding

  • Understand the legal duties of trustees to manage safeguarding risks, allegations and incidents
  • Learn about the potential personal and organisational liabilities associated with becoming the trustee of a charity
  • Explore how your charity can build the confidence of its trustees to discharge their duties effectively
  • How to recruit and retain trustees with the adequate skills and knowledge to proactively promote safeguarding and create a safe organisational culture

Senior Representative, NCVO (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Working in Partnership to Deliver Outstanding Safeguarding Practices

  • Understanding how working collaboratively with the local community brings added value when it comes to protecting the safety and welfare of children
  • Working in partnership with local authorities and other agencies to deliver targeted support and intervention services to vulnerable children and their families
  • Supporting vulnerable children and their families through a range of support and intervention services including, the Phoenix Child Sexual Exploitation Project, the Family Intervention for Self-Harm Project and multiple local children’s centres and projects
  • Reflecting on experience and working to continuously improve services through the establishment of a quarterly internal Safeguarding Panel

Paul Ringer, Deputy Chief Executive, Spurgeons Children’s Charity (CONFIRMED)

Highly Commended for Safeguarding Children and Young People, Now Award 2017


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Workshop: Information Sharing - Effectively Balancing Respect for Privacy Against Safeguarding Priorities

  • Establish how safeguarding requirements and data protection requirements can work together, rather than against each other, to enable information sharing
  • Ensuring that your organisation meets both safeguarding and data protection requirements
  • Maintaining privacy whilst protecting individuals through transparent and secure information sharing procedures
  • Introducing the tools used by Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity to assist staff in making decisions when faced with information sharing dilemmas

Claire Robson, Head of Governance Legal and Compliance, Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Chair's Summary and Close

*Programme subject to change

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