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our safeguarding policy

Safeguarding Policy for Vulnerable Users of The Hearth Community Centre Buildings January 2021 + Guidelines  


This policy and its associated guidelines/appendix are intended to protect children and vulnerable adults who visit the Hearth Centre.

‘Children’ are assumed to be persons under the age of 18 as defined by the Children Act 1989.

The term “vulnerable adult” refers to: Any person aged 18 and over “who is, or may be in need of community care services by reason of mental or other disability, age or illness and who is, or may be, unable to take care of him or herself to protect him or herself against significant harm or exploitation’ and includes Adults with learning difficulties or physical disability, the frail, elderly people and carers.


This document is the Safeguarding Policy for all Vulnerable Users of for The Hearth Centre (Horsley) Ltd [“The Hearth”], Directions within this document will be known to and followed by all those involved with the organisation and followed and promoted by those in the position of leadership within the organisation.

All concerned should respond to any concerns they may have regarding the physical, sexual, emotional or psychological safety including bullying, exclusion, neglect of any Vulnerable person on site – and include any concerns relating to discriminatory or financial violation, or exploitation of a vulnerable person on site at the Hearth. This policy is in place to protect all vulnerable persons regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, sexuality religion or faith.


The Hearth Charity has a duty of care to all of those using its premises, which includes those who cannot read warning signs and those less able to recognise any risks.

Every child, young person or vulnerable adult who participates in the activities of The Hearth should be able to participate in an enjoyable and safe environment and be protected from abuse. This is the responsibility of every adult involved in this organisation. We know that young people or vulnerable adults are at risk of abuse by adults.  The purpose of this policy is to make sure that the actions of any adult in the context of the work carried out by the organisation are transparent and safe and promote the welfare of all young people and vulnerable adults.


As at 1st January 2021 the Hearth has 10 individuals with a full DBS Certification in Appendix D



  • To safeguard, care for and nurture children and young people visiting the Hearth.

  • To safeguard and care for vulnerable adults in the Hearth.

  • To inform those involved with children and vulnerable adults of the behaviour expected of them



  • A written ‘application’ from all Trustees, employed members of Staff and Volunteers is required

  • Two relevant references to be taken up and recorded

  • Initial Training given to new starters by one of the Trustees, working through the Safeguarding Policy

  • Follow-up Training by way of a face to face discussion once every 12 months

  • All new Trustees, Staff, Volunteers will be given a copy of the Hearth’s current Safeguarding Policy before carrying out any actions on behalf of the Hearth. They will also be required to have a recorded conversation regarding Safeguarding with either the Chair of the Trustees or a nominated Trustee.

  • It is our aim that all Trustees, employed staff and Lead Volunteers will be DBS certified or that the majority will be certified.

  • After each review of the policy an update will be issued to all concerned and a discussion had. 


  • All Trustees, staff and volunteers must: -

  • Minimise any risk – No one on site will have any unsupervised access to children or Vulnerable adults unless they have been through the safe recruitment procedure and relevant training.

  • Nominated Responsible Person:   The Chair of Trustees of the Hearth.   As of 1st March 2020, that person is Mrs Jane Gibson – see contact details below.

  • All Trustees will also be responsible for Safeguarding across the Hearth site.

  • The Hearth Safeguarding Policy will be discussed at each AGM.  If amends are made and updated a copy will be issued to all those who carry out activities at the Hearth.

  • A copy of the Policy will be displayed in main areas and supplied to each Hall user in advance of use.

  • Hall Hirers working with Children and/or Vulnerable adults will be required to show their own Safeguarding Policy – a copy will be retained.

  • Any damage to Hall space/property by Hall users must be reported immediately – replacement/repairs to be carried out asap to prevent problems with access by children or vulnerable adults – where appropriate.

  • All involved must report concerns, suspicions, allegations of abuse immediately

  • As of 1st March 2020:  Any activity on site at the Hearth will essentially NOT include Children or Vulnerable Adults without their own Responsible Adult being on site with them

  • No alcohol is sold to those under the age of 18; any Films need strict age classification adherence; No gambling or adult entertainment be permitted on site at the Hearth.

  • Contractors on site must not be allowed on site unsupervised where there could be any access to children or vulnerable adults.

  • Remember ‘Doing nothing’ is not an option



  • Treat everyone with respect

  • Ensure that during activities there is more than one adult present (young people under the age of 18 should never be left alone with children).

  • Be aware that physical contact with a child or young person can be misinterpreted. Physical contact should be appropriate to the situation taking into account the age and development of the child or young person and should never undermine their dignity. Physical contact should not be used if an adult is alone with a child.

  • Be available but also be ready to refer a situation or problem to someone more experienced to deal with it. Never try to resolve the situation yourself. Never be afraid to seek professional help or advice.

  • Challenge unacceptable behaviour

  • Report all allegations or suspicions of abuse to the Hearth Office for the attention of the Chair of the Board of Trustees or one of the Trustees.


Nominated Responsible person (Mrs Jane Gibson) will have overall responsibility for reporting concerns immediately to the local authority Child Protection and Vulnerable Adult lead agency. ** see contact details bellow Appendix C

The Board must ensure the culture on site is such that staff and volunteers have the opportunity and feel comfortable raising any safeguarding concerns.



  • Listen to what vulnerable visitors have to say and accept what you hear without passing judgement

  • Stay calm and try not to show shock or disbelief

  • Inform the Safeguarding responsible person at the Hearth or Hearth representative of that particular event

  • Do not try to investigate the situation themselves  

  • However, make careful notes of the incident as soon as possible, include the circumstances, what the child said, what you said and the actions you took. Make sure the notes include the name and address of the child, the date of the incident and that they are signed.

  • Send copies to the Hearth office for the attention of the Chair of the Board of Trustees or one of the Trustees who will send them to the Chair of the Board of Trustees. If the concerns relate to the Chair Person – the information should be sent for the attention of the entire Board.

NB:     As of 2018, 2019 and 2020 – the Hearth Centre offer events Free for Young People -  however at these events a young person is required to be accompanied by a parent, guardian, responsible adult or teacher at all times.



The Chair of the Trustees of the Hearth – from 1st January 2020 to date this is Mrs Jane Gibson.  However, ALL Trustees have agreed to hold responsibility for Safeguarding across the Hearth Centre.

** See contact details in Appendix C



Adult services:

Onecall T 01670 536 400
Text: 01670 536 844   - please email in the first instance*



Adam Hall 01670 623979
E  or



Appendix A   Forms and signs of abuse and ways to recognise CHILD abuse and neglect

Recognise the signs of Abuse in children

Physical abuse – this may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating or causing any sort of physical harm to a child.  Parents or carers may feign the symptoms of a child they are looking after. They might do this because they enjoy the attention they are getting for looking after a sick child. Physical abuse may also be caused through omission or failure to act to protect.

Visible signs - These may include injuries to any part of the body; Pain when walking, sitting down, move the jaw or any sort of pain; Any injury which is not typical of mishaps during normal children’s activities; Any regular injury;

Behavioural signs – these may include furtive, secretive behaviour; uncharacteristic aggression or withdrawn behaviour; sudden ill co-ordination; difficulty in staying awake; repeatedly absent.

What to listen for - confused or conflicting explanations of how injuries were sustained;  (evaluate carefully to what is said and ideally document it ad verbatim – consider if the explanation is in keeping with the nature, age and site of the injury)

Consider – What do you know about the family; is there a history of known or suspected abuse?  Has the family been under stress recently? Do you have concerns about the family?

Emotional abuse   - Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional ill treatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development. It may involve making a child feel or believe that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person.

Watch for parent/carer behaviours  Poor attachment relationship with the child, neglectful behaviour towards child’s emotional or psychological needs, persistent negative comments about the child, inappropriate development expectations of the child, parental problems that supersede the needs of the child, Dysfunctional family relationships including domestic violence.

Watch for child behaviours  Emotional indicators - Low self-esteem, unhappiness, fear, distress, anxiety.  Behavioural indicators – attention seeking, withdrawn, insecure.  Physical indicators – failure to thrive/develop, delay in achieving developmental milestones.

Sexual abuse -  this involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, whether or not the child is aware of or consent to what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including penetrative acts such as rape, buggery or oral sex or non-penetrative acts such as fondling. Sexual abuse may also include non-contact activities such as involving children in looking at or in the production of pornographic material or watching sexual activities or encouraging children to behave in inappropriate ways.  Boys and girls can be sexually abused by males and or female, by adults and by other young people – this includes people from all walks of life.

There may be no recognisable signs of sexual abuse but the following indicators may be signs that a child is or has been sexually abused:

Physical signs – extreme variations in behaviour e.g. anxiety, aggression or withdrawal, sexually provocative or inappropriate behaviour, knowledge that is incompatible with age and understanding.   Indirect disclosure - Drawings or written work which is sexually explicit or Direct disclosure – it is important to recognise that children have neither the experience nor the understanding to make up stories about sexual assault.

Neglect – Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and or psychological needs.  It may involve a parent or carer failing to provide adequate food, shelter and clothing; failure to protect a child from physical harm or danger; or failure to ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment; or failure to respond to a child’s basic emotional needs.

Physical signs – abnormal growth including failure to thrive, underweight or obesity, recurrent infection, unkempt dirty appearance, smelly, inadequate/unwashed clothes, hunger, listlessness

Behavioural signs -  attachment disorders, indiscriminate friendliness, poor social relationships, poor concentration, development delays, low self-esteem.

Environmental signs – insufficient food, heating and ventilation in the home, risk from animals in the household, inappropriate sleeping arrangements and inadequate bedding, dangerous or hazardous environment.


Appendix B  Categories and predisposing factors of ADULT abuse

Predisposing factors -  Some examples of factors which may place people at risk of abuse are listed below.  Adult abuse often occurs when a vulnerable adult is faced with a set of circumstances where there is potential for harm.  The presence of one or more of these factors does not automatically imply that abuse will follow but may increase the likelihood.

The Individual - Poor communication or communication difficulties,  history of falls and minor injuries, physical and or emotional dependence on others,  mental health needs, including moderate or severe dementia, rejection of help, aggression,  self-injurious behaviour, history of repeatedly making allegations of abuse, high level of dependency on others to meet their care needs, substance misuse, previous history of violent relationships with the family or social networks.

The Environment - Over-crowding, poor or insecure living conditions, geographical isolation, poor management of care.

Relationships in particular with carers - unequal power relationships, increasing dependency, history of abuse within the family, lack of understanding about the vulnerable adults condition resulting in inappropriate behaviour, difficulty or challenging behaviour by the vulnerable adult which the carer find stressful.

Discriminatory abuse - Discriminatory abuse exists when values, beliefs or culture result in a misuse of power that denies mainstream opportunities to some groups or individuals.  It is the exploitation of a person’s vulnerability, resulting in repeated or pervasive treatment of an individual which excludes them from opportunities in society, for example education, health, justice, civic status and protection.  It includes discrimination on the basis of race, gender, age, sexuality, disability or religion.

Potential indicators - Lack of respect shown to an individual, signs of lack of care.

Physical abuse - Non-accidental infliction of physical force that results in bodily injury, pain or impairment. 

Potential indicators - any injury not fully explained by the history given, injuries inconsistent with the lifestyle of the vulnerable adult, bruises or welt on face, lips, mouth, torso, arms, back, buttocks, thighs, clusters of injuries from regular patterns or reflecting the shape of an object, burns especially on the soles, palms or back, or immersion in hot water,  multiple fractures

Sexual abuse - Direct or indirect involvement in sexual activity without consent.   Consent to a particular activity may not be given because – a person has capacity but does not want to consent, a person lacks capacity and therefore is unable to give consent, a person feels coerced into activity because of the other person is in a position of trust power or authority.

Potential indicators - significant change in sexual behaviour or attitude, vulnerable adult appears withdrawn, depressed or stressed.

Psychological abuse - the use of threats, humiliation, bullying, swearing and other verbal conduct or any other form of mental cruelty that results in mental or physical distress.

Potential indicators - change in appetite, low self-esteem, passivity and resignation, unexplained fear, emotional withdrawal

Financial abuse - The unauthorised and improper use of funds or any resources belonging to an individual


Appendix C  Guidelines for responding to abuse or suspicion of abuse


The Chair of Trustees is, at this time, Mrs Jane Gibson.  (January 2021)

E:   addressed to ‘the Chair of Trustees at the Hearth Charity’     

T: 01661-852545

Face to Face to any Hearth Trustee or any Hearth Representative on site / in charge of a particular event. PLEASE follow a face to face report in writing to

The Chair of Trustees, 

The Hearth Charity,

Main Road,



NE15 0NT

NB:  The Hearth Charity agrees to respond to any reporting of abuse or suspicion of abuse – pass to either Children's Safeguarding Office, Adam Hill at Northumberland County Council  or  Adult Service at Northumbrian NHS  - within 5 days.



Do treat any allegations extremely seriously and act at all times toward the child/Vulnerable Adult as if you believe what they are saying

Do tell them that they are right to tell you

Do reassure them that they are not to be blamed

Do be honest about your own position, who you have to tell and why.

Do tell the child what you are doing and when and keep them up to date with what is happening

Do take further action – you may be the only person in a position to prevent future abuse, tell your nominated person immediately

Do write down everything said and what was done

Do seek medical attention if necessary

Do inform parents/carers unless there is suspicion of their involvement



Don’t make promises you can’t keep

Don’t interrogate the child – it is not your job to carry out an investigation – this will be up to the police and social services who have the relevant experience

Don’t cast doubt on what the child has told you, don’t interrupt or change the subject

Don’t say anything that makes the child feel responsible for the abuse

Don’t do Nothing – make sure you tell your nominated child protection person immediately – they will know how to follow this up and where to go for further advice

Appendix D

As of 1st March 2020  - the following people who are active on site at the Hearth have DBS certification

Steven Duckworth - Chair of Trustees

Julie Straw - Trustee - Hearth As Place

Chris Siddle - Treasurer

Dale Robertson - Trustee

Jen Millard - Trustee - Communication

Deborah Robertson - Trustee - Engagement

George Stoker - Trustee

At this time (January 2021)  The Hearth does not offer any activities to Children or Vulnerable Adults without them being accompanied by a responsible adult. 

Dated  1st January 2021

This policy will be reviewed within a 12 month period – on an annual basis.

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