Kathryn Kendall

Jun 15, 2021, 1:00 PM

Safeguarding in digital delivery

Before the word “pandemic” was a part of everyday conversation, you might have attended the odd IT skills course, learning how to create a better Excel spreadsheet or get the most out of your LinkedIn network. For many of us though, 2020/21 has been a crash course in becoming more digitally savvy, primarily learning on the job.

If your organisation works with young people, it’s worth taking a moment to think about the future of your digital offering and especially to review the safeguarding processes you have in place for this new way of working.

Evaluating delivery methods

Online delivery during the pandemic has created a mix of challenges and opportunities for organisations working with young people. Many are planning to adopt a hybrid approach, taking aspects of the best of both worlds.

Working through the following questions could help you decide on the best method as you plan for future delivery.

1.     What are the main opportunities that online delivery has presented?

a.     Have we been able to reach a wider audience?

b.     Has it benefited isolated young people by providing greater flexibility/reduced travel?

c.     Has it produced more opportunities to deliver creative work?

2.     What are the main challenges that online delivery has presented?

a.     Have some young people struggled to access the online provision/content?

b.     How has it impacted building relationships with young people and within the group?

c.     Have we been able to achieve the same outcomes through our online work?

d.     What implications has it had for the working patterns of our staff?

3.     What method of working do the young people we work with prefer? (You could ask this informally or create a survey to gather their views).

4.     Has our staff capacity, training, equipment and safeguarding policy been suitable for online delivery?

5.     Going forward, which activities could work online and which would be more effective face to face? 

If you decide to return to face to face work, think through each of the opportunities you listed that online work has created – how could you replicate these through an alternative delivery method?

If you decide to maintain online work, think of ways to mitigate each challenge (and potential risk) that you identified to improve the effectiveness and robustness of your work going forward.

Reviewing online safeguarding processes

Your online work might have launched quite suddenly during the pandemic, so it’s important to check that your safeguarding policies and practice are as robust as they should be. It’s vital that your safeguarding policy has been updated to reflect your online work, that you have risk assessed your online work and that staff have been trained to work safely online.

There are many resources available online to help with this, and the best place to start is on the NSPCC Learning website. It includes online training for Safer Recruitment and for Online Safety and the NSPCC also offers a Safeguarding Training Package for Voluntary Groups. You can access a free self-assessment tool to audit your organisation’s current safeguarding and child protection arrangements and access a suite of resources designed for voluntary organisations.

Youthscape, in partnership with Thirtyone:eight, has also provided a helpful free PDF on how to communicate and work safely with young people online. You can find it here.

If you would like further support with your digital transformation strategy or safeguarding, please contact Action Planning.

Andrew Johnson

Kathryn Kendall works alongside small, primarily faith-based charities to support them with strategic planning and funding. She has worked for over 10 years in or alongside the charity sector, including roles at BBC Children in Need, Save the Children and Care for the Family. She is the Safeguarding Co-ordinator at her local church.