Safe to Play

By November 19, 2021News

Sheffield Safeguarding Children and Adult Partnerships in collaboration with the national child safeguarding charity NWG is launching the Safe to Play Campaign, providing advice to parents and carers before they let their children attend any sports or other physical activity clubs.

Sport and physical activities often place individuals in a position of significant influence over other people. A high level of trust is placed on such individuals by parents, carers and the participants themselves. In most cases that level of trust is more than repaid through the commitment, dedication and selflessness of people involved in organising and delivering sports and activities, but occasionally that trust can be abused.

Every child and young person has a right to have fun and enjoy taking part in activities without the risk of being harmed or abused.

Here in Sheffield, we strive to make sure that every child has a positive experience when participating in sport, physical and extra-curricular activities. Everyone has a role to play in keeping others safe and people should know how to spot the signs of child sexual exploitation and what to do if they have any concerns. Safeguarding must remain a priority for all those who run, book, manage and oversee sports and extra-curricular clubs and activities.

Sheffield Children Safeguarding Partnership and Sheffield Adult Safeguarding Partnership urge parents, carers and guardians to look for a club, sport, activity and coach that takes the safety and wellbeing of your child seriously.

Always check whether the club or organisation is accredited or otherwise affiliated to a body (e.g. a sports governing body or national voluntary sector) as this should mean they have the right safeguarding policies and procedures in place.

Even if they are accredited, there are some key things to look for to ensure they take children’s safety seriously.

• Review their website or the information you may have been sent. Do not be influenced by glossy flyers, smiley children in pictures and lots of quotes from ‘satisfied’ parents.
• Look for safeguarding policies – these should be fully accessible, visible, and readily available on their website. Hard copies should also be available on request. If they are not visible or available, then please think twice about sending your child into the care of someone who does not have safeguarding arrangements in place.
• Where is the sport activity taking place? Is it COVID-19 secure? If it is in the grounds of a school or a leisure centre, then please ask the headteacher or centre manager about what due diligence has taken place to ensure the clubs providing activities have the correct safeguarding procedures in place.
• A safe recruitment process for staff and volunteers, including vetting. This means that they have appropriate references, DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) checks – please ask about the last time these were renewed, we recommend every three years, and ensure the staff have the right technical qualifications for the activity.
• What safeguarding training have staff and volunteers received and can you see the evidence of when this training was delivered. What about new staff, as coaches do move around quite frequently
• Check if they have a code of conduct/practice for sport coaches – this code provides a guide for good and safe coaching practice. A good code will be incorporated into the club and its policies, procedures, governance, and training and will not be a stand-alone document
• First Aid procedures – what happens if a child is taken ill? What are the club’s policies and how many people at the club have full first aid certificates?
• Is there a designated welfare officer/safeguarding lead? – find out who the point of contact is that you or child can speak to if you have any concerns or worries
• Parents/carers should speak with their child/children often to ensure they are happy and have no concerns. Maintaining an open dialogue with your child/children is very important.

Useful links:
• Sheffield Children Safeguarding Partnership – https://www.safeguardingsheffieldchildren.org/
• NWG Network – https://www.nwgnetwork.org/
• Sport England – https://www.sportengland.org/how-we-can-help/safeguarding
• The Child Protection in Sport Unit – https://thecpsu.org.uk/
• Ann Craft Trust – https://www.anncrafttrust.org/

What to do if you have a concern?
If you are worried about a child, have concerns about a club or coach and/or concerns about inappropriate behaviour by anyone involved in a sports club or physical activity setting in Sheffield, then please raise these concerns immediately by reaching out to the Council’s Safeguarding Teams using the various methods below:

• Safeguarding Hub on 0114 273 4855 (24 hours) – Children
• Sheffields First Contact team: 0114 2734908 – Adults
• If you are concerned about an individual or see something suspicious, please contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or South Yorkshire Police on 101.
• If you feel it is an emergency that requires immediate attention or someone is at immediate risk of harm, please call South Yorkshire Police without delay on 999.

Sheffield Children Safeguarding Partnership can be contacted at SCSPsafeguardinglicensing@sheffield.gov.uk

NWG – the National Safeguarding Charity can also be contacted for further advice and support on 01332 585 371, or by visiting https://www.nwgnetwork.org

Andy Cliff

Author Andy Cliff

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