There are huge benefits of young people playing rugby. We all know that. However, whilst we are ensuring that our young people have fun, get fit, learn skills that will equip them for life we also need to ensure that they have these experiences in a safe environment.
Safeguarding is the proactive process of protecting children and vulnerable adults from harm Child Protection is looking after individual children who are suffering from or are likely to suffer from significant harm. It is therefore reactive.
Our sport also depends upon the goodwill and time given by many volunteers, who need to learn what a safe environment looks like and also understand how to protect themselves from undue criticism. We will never eliminate risk altogether, but the safer the environment and the better the practice of coaches and volunteers, the lower the risk to children, vulnerable adults and the volunteers themselves.
Initiatives in Cornwall
The RFU encourages CBs to have a team of Safeguarding Managers who work for the CB to ensure that safe environments are provided for children and volunteers. There are a number of ways in which this takes place.
- Supporting Club Safeguarding officers (CSOs) within each club
- Help educate CSOs and other volunteers about safeguarding
- Support CSOs in referring incidents
- Liaise with LADOs and other individuals regarding investigating incidents
- Organise annual 10% safeguarding audits of clubs
Because of the size and geography of our County there are four Safeguarding Managers – this allows a more responsive and local input from CBSMs who have been trained by and are supported by the RFU Safeguarding team.
- Ann Demaine – SE and North Cornwall (based at Liskeard)
- Rob Harris – mid Cornwall (based at Truro)
- Tom Tree – west Cornwall (based at Penzance)
- Pauline Rodea – moved from the County earlier this year and an additional volunteer is sought
Commonly thought of as simply ‘doing CRBs’, the CSOs do so much more within a club. There should be at least two people carrying out this role which needs to be the ears and eyes of the club. This includes minis and juniors, home and away, so any one person cannot possibly fulfil all of that alone. In addition, someone needs to provide a service of ensuring that anyone in a regulated activity has a current DBS check, made much easier now that they are done electronically. The RFU pays for these if volunteers are not paid.
There are two RFU accredited course and all the CRFU CBSMs are fully trained in delivering the courses. We currently have no resources to deliver these (eg projector, flip charts)
- Play it Safe – the basic introduction to safeguarding principles, particularly in a rugby setting, for anyone who has anything to do with under 18s within the club. It teaches about important issues such as the different types of abuse and allows the attendees to discuss a variety of scenarios, including those that may be concerning them from their own experiences. Re-do every 2 years.
- In Touch – this is specifically for CSOs who should attend the course within 6 months of taking up the role. It equips the individual to feel confident at dealing with incidents appropriately. It is also important that others within the club, especially committee members of the senior as well as the junior club, have some of this knowledge as they are in influential positions in creating the right environment in the club. Re-do every 2 years.
The courses have to be requested by a club from the RFU, who work with another course provider and are now all booked on line. One plan would be to coordinate a day of courses with the CRFU annual coaching conference/CPD.
The RFU asks that 10% of clubs have a safeguarding audit every year. This has been one of the more difficult tasks. The audits are meant to be supportive to the clubs allowing them to be able to see for themselves what the club needs to do to improve the environment for our young people.
Club Accreditation and Health checks
We try to work closely with Mike Bratt when he is carrying out club accreditations and annual health checks. To gain accreditation a club needs to have a signature from the CBSM. At present, this is not completely coordinated – we would be aiming to coordinate the at least some of the audits with the accreditation process.