This policy applies to all staff, the Board of Trustees, volunteers, consultants and anyone  working on behalf of The HelpLine. It should be read alongside our other policies and  procedures in particular those relating to Confidentiality and Data Protection. 

The purpose of this policy is to: 

  • protect those who use our service or those who a caller may tell us are at risk.  Although The HelpLine works primarily with adults, we recognise that our  responsibility extends to all vulnerable beneficiaries including the children of adults  who use our services; 
  • provide staff and volunteers with the overarching principles that guide our approach  to safeguarding and child protection 

Legal framework 

This policy has been drawn up on the basis of law and guidance that seeks to protect children  and adults who may be in vulnerable circumstances. 

Key terms and definitions 

Safeguarding is the action taken to promote the welfare of children and adults at risk and  protect them from harm. 

A child is someone who has not yet reached their 18th birthday. 

An adult at risk (previously known as a vulnerable adult) is a person aged 18 or over who: has needs for care and support and; 

  • is experiencing or is at risk of abuse or neglect; and 
  • as a result of those care and support needs is unable to protect themselves from either  the risk of or the experience of abuse and neglect. 

Forms of abuse can include: 

  • Physical abuse 
  • Sexual abuse 
  • Neglect 
  • Self-neglect 
  • Psychological or emotional abuse 
  • Financial or material abuse 
  • Discriminatory abuse 
  • Institutional abuse 
  • Domestic violence 
  • Bullying 
  • Female genital mutilation 
  • Criminal exploitation including modern slavery 
  • On-line including sharing images 
  • Extremism and radicalisation 

Types of abuse 

  • Abuse can be a single act or repeated acts 
  • Can be deliberate or unintentional or result from lack of knowledge
  • Can be an act of neglect, an omission or a failure to act 
  • Can cause harm temporarily or over a period of time 
  • Can occur in any relationship 
  • Can be perpetrated by anyone, carried out by individuals or as part of a group or an  organisation 
  • Abuse can constitute a crime 

Good practice guidelines 

The HelpLine is committed to taking steps to ensure that anyone using our services is safe  and to protect vulnerable people who might be: 

  • at risk, including from another person 
  • experiencing suicidal thoughts or feelings 
  • at risk in some other way 

The HelpLine committed to safeguarding all those who contact us, particularly the most  vulnerable, by ensuring: 

  • all volunteers and staff engaging with callers undergo an enhanced DBS check all volunteers and staff engaging with callers agree to abide by our policies and  procedures 
  • all volunteers and staff engaging with callers know how to report concerns promptly and  to whom 
  • volunteers and staff who are reporting concerns are supported 
  • volunteers and staff understand that they are not supporting a caller as a friend but as a  representative of The HelpLine. They must not contact callers outside their role of  supporting callers while officially on duty, not must they share personal information that  could be used to contact them such as address, telephone or email. 

The HelpLine follows clear principles of confidentiality, nevertheless, there may be  occasions when it is appropriate to share information and it is now a legal requirement that  agencies and professionals work together around safeguarding issues. However, to be clear,  The HelpLine does not store personal identifiable information on callers, and we do not have  access to callers’ telephone numbers. Where we are discussing a concern over someone’s  welfare with a caller, we can only operate on the basis of informed consent, which will be  gained from the caller before sharing their information with agreed parties. In order for The  HelpLine to share that identifiable information it would have to be freely given and its  purpose agreed. The circumstances where we will strongly encourage callers to share their  contact details are:  

  • You are injured or likely to be injured or become unconscious, then agreed details  may be passed to people who’ll be able to get help to you, like the ambulance service If you’re in immediate danger of being hurt by someone else, we may with your  agreement ask the police to come and check, or do something to make sure that you’re  safe 
  • If you’ve told us that a child is in danger, we may need to get them help.  Where there are on-going risks to a child or vulnerable adult we might with your  agreement ask social services to arrange to speak to you and see how they might be  able to help you.

We will always cooperate with statutory agencies such as emergency services, social  services, or any other agency deemed appropriate, but we do not have or record any  identifiable information on callers. Information shared for a specific purpose would be  destroyed once that information had been used for its intended purpose. Social Services have  a duty to investigate if there is reasonable cause to suspect that a child is suffering or likely to  suffer significant harm. 

If a Safeguarding concern is identified, it should be immediately discussed with the shift  supervisor / team leader. The supervisor should inform and consult with the on-call manager to identify next steps which will include: 

  • taking reasonable steps to encourage the vulnerable person to make choices that do  not put them in immediate danger and if necessary, with their consent, seeking urgent  medical treatment or other emergency service intervention 
  • contacting the police if an applicable crime has been committed or someone is in  immediate danger (however as we do not have caller’s contact information, we need  to encourage them to make the right choice and accept police involvement) making a written report of all material observations 
  • if deemed appropriate, the reporting of the notified event to the relevant charity  regulator 
  • identifying what support may be needed by the volunteer taking the call such as  debrief, supervision, performance review or additional training 

We are committed to reviewing our policy and good practice annually or as necessary in the  light of new guidance. 

May 2023