Safeguarding Adults Week: Protecting Adults in Sport

19th November 2018

Safeguarding Adults Week: Protecting Adults in Sport

Over the last decade, the idea and practice of safeguarding has risen on the list of priorities for businesses, organisations and sports clubs.

It’s hugely positive that many organisations have in place child protection measures to promote the welfare of young people and protect them from abuse and neglect. However, it is perhaps less well understood that safeguarding doesn’t just include children.

Adults can be vulnerable and at risk of harm too. Today marks the start of the first ever National Safeguarding Adults Week (November 19th – 25th November) which underlines why protecting adults – in particular vulnerable adults who are at risk - is so important.

The National Safeguarding Adults Network, a collection of charities which work together promote safeguarding adults, identify sports clubs and organisations as institutions which can play a key role in protecting adults from harm.

So Volleyball England is backing the campaign and wants to highlight safeguarding adults to its affiliated clubs.

What is safeguarding of adults?

The fundamental principle is that organisations have a duty of care to protect the welfare of all adults. The Care Act 2014 identifies there are adults who are more susceptible to harm and these are termed as adults at risk. These are people who need care and support to live with any illness or disability, adults who are at risk of abuse or neglect and those people who are unable to protect themselves from the risk of abuse or neglect.

So essentially safeguarding adult duties apply to people who rely on some form of care to live life but extends wider to any adult who is at the risk of abuse or who needs emotional support at a time of difficulty or stress.

The Care Act also sets out 10 categories of abuse that may be experienced by adults:

  • Self-neglect: neglecting to care for one’s personal hygiene, health or surroundings
  • Modern slavery: encompassing slavery, human trafficking, forced labour or domestic servitude
  • Domestic abuse: including psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional abuse perpetrated by anyone in a person’s family
  • Discriminatory: this is abuse which centres on a difference or perceived difference, particularly in respect to race, gender, disability or any protected characteristics of the Equality Act
  • Organisational: this includes neglect and poor care practice of any institution or care setting, such as a hospital or care home.
  • Physical: including hitting, slapping, pushing, kicking, misuse of medication, restraint or inappropriate sanctions
  • Sexual: this includes rape, indecent exposure, sexual harassment, inappropriate looking or touching, sexual teasing or innuendo, sexual photography
  • Financial or material: includes theft, fraud, internet scamming, coercion in relation to an adults financial affairs or arrangements.
  • Neglect/acts of omission: includes ignoring medical or physical care needs, failing to provide access to appropriate health social care or educational services, the withholding the necessities of life, such as medication, adequate nutrition and heating.
  • Emotional or psychological: includes threat of harm or abandonment, deprivation of contact, humiliation, blaming, controlling, intimidation, harassment, verbal abuse, isolation or withdrawal from services or supportive networks. 

Not mentioned in the Care Act 2014 but also relevant to safeguarding adults are cyber bullying, forced marriage, radicalisation and mate crime, which is when vulnerable people are befriended by members of the community who go on to exploit them. 

Safeguarding adults in sport

Sport is an incredible force for good in society. It does so much to promote individual health and well-being, as well as developing community and values. Everyone deserves to be able to enjoy sport and reap the benefits being involved brings.

Organisations and sports clubs can help to keep adults safe from abuse and neglect, as well as creating a culture of everyone participating. With raised awareness of safeguarding adults and appropriate measures in place in sport, clubs can help spot the signs of abuse and harm and protect adults at risk.

The theme of the Saturday and Sunday of National Safeguarding Adults Week is Safeguarding in Sport and Activity, with practical advice available for sports organisations. The Ann Craft Trust, part of the National Safeguarding Adults Network, provides a complete pack called the Sport Resource Pack – Second Edition which takes you through the background of safeguarding adults and looks at how it applies in sport. The trust also provides useful resources, such as template documents for sports clubs to develop their own safeguarding adults policy and procedures document.

Safeguarding Adults Week: Protecting Adults in Sport