AUTHOR: FRANZISKA SCHWARZ
Throughout July, we surveyed our members to better understand what changes they have made in their safeguarding practices and what further support they need. The results are further testament to the sector’s determination and progress in transforming its approaches to safeguarding.
Of the 90 members we surveyed, most organisations have already made changes to their safeguarding practices since the Safeguarding Summit on 5 March. Here are three ways NGOs are leading change across their organisations, programmes and the wider sector.
1. Increased resources for safeguarding
The majority of NGOs have followed through on their commitment to increase investment and resources towards safeguarding and protecting the most vulnerable. 74% of organisations have increased their resourcing on safeguarding since February 2018. Some organisations stated that while they have not increased investment since February 2018, they have reviewed existing policies, are part of Keeping Children Safe, or are confident they have robust safeguarding policies and practices in place already.
Of those who increased resources, 92% have increased staff time and 73% have increased training.
Some organisations have sought specialist external support, such as advice or contracting consultants to review their safeguarding policies. Others have focused on enhancing in-country partners’ awareness of safeguarding by translating policies and providing ongoing, updated communications.
65% of larger organisations have also increased their budgets in this area, as have 24% of smaller organisations. Organisations are dedicated to investing in better safeguarding practice. But our survey also highlights the need for donors to allow for safeguarding costs in grant and contract budgets, and to adequately resource programmes, as recommended in the International Development Committee’s recent report.
2. Greater oversight from trustees
Trustees are taking leadership on safeguarding and have increasingly done so since February 2018. NGOs committed to demonstrate a step change in shifting organisational culture and 85% of organisations now report their board has asked for greater oversight and review of safeguarding policies. 76% of organisations’ boards have increased the time on their agendas dedicated to safeguarding.
Making safeguarding a governance priority is an important step for improving safeguarding standards and changing organisational culture. Safeguarding oversight at board level is vital to ensure appropriate policies are in place, potential risks are identified, and incidents and complaints are addressed and reported. Boards also play an important leadership role for organisations to develop an open and transparent culture that promotes respect and accountability and sets behavioural standards.
3. Working together to improve practice across the sector
Since the Safeguarding Summit in March 2018, the sector has worked collectively to take forward a set of actions to drive up safeguarding standards. In addition to the work of the four safeguarding working groups, the survey has highlighted the sector’s determination to work together to enhance practice, for example through providing peer support, or sharing knowledge, resources and best practice.
Following through on the commitment to ensure best practice is shared across the sector, 63% of respondents are interested in buddying up to provide or receive support from an organisation that has bespoke safeguarding capacity. 70% respondents said their organisation would find advice from an organisation with in-house safeguarding expertise helpful. Nearly two-thirds of respondents were interested in a Bond-led community of practice on safeguarding.
Bond is here to help
We will continue to mobilise and support members in driving up standards and strengthening best practice across organisations and programmes, through our support for the safeguarding working groups, our events, training, resources and online members’ space.
Our Safeguarding for development event next week will provide members with the latest insights on key areas of safeguarding, including the employment cycle, reporting and accountability. Members will also have the chance to get peer support, and to feed back on the working groups’ progress.
Along with our guidance and resources, policy templates and popular training courses on safeguarding essentials and developing good safeguarding practice, we are also developing our online Safeguarding Group space into a community of practice. This group will be a platform for organisations to share experiences, challenges and learning on safeguarding, and will continue the work on transforming practice within the sector.
We will also be representing our wider membership at DFID’s safeguarding summit on 18 October. We will ensure our members’ work to improve the quality and consistency of safeguarding practice is shared with development and humanitarian actors from other sectors. We’ll shortly be inviting members to contribute to shaping that input.
About the author
Franziska Schwarz is Bond’s safeguarding support adviser. Franziska supports the work of the four Safeguarding Working Groups set up in conjunction with DFID and the Charity Commission after the Safeguarding Summit.