Safeguarding training

Please also refer to our Offline and Online Safeguarding Policies.

Our Role Models are trained in Safeguarding before any in-person course that they work on. This involves reading through this training in detail and going over potential scenarios.

Role Models Safeguarding Team

Contacting the Safeguarding Team:

Ensure that you are in a private place when making this call, so that you are not overheard by either young people or staff. +44 (0)20 3637 7107

There are four main areas of abuse: Emotional, sexual, physical and neglect.

Child Abuse

There are various forms of child abuse as defined by the leading organisation in this area; the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children:

Physical abuse

  • Physical abuse is deliberately hurting a child causing injuries such as bruises, broken bones, burns or cuts.

Sexual abuse

  • A child is sexually abused when they are forced or persuaded to take part in sexual activities. This doesn't have to be physical contact, and it can happen online.

Emotional abuse

  • Children who are emotionally abused suffer emotional maltreatment or neglect. It's sometimes called psychological abuse and can cause children serious harm.


  • Neglect is the ongoing failure to meet a child's basic needs. It's dangerous and children can suffer serious and long-term harm.

Within these are other categories that can be defined as follows:

Child sexual exploitation

  • Child sexual exploitation is a type of sexual abuse in which children are sexually exploited for money, power or status.

Female genital mutilation (FGM)

  • FGM is the partial or total removal of external female genitalia for non-medical reasons.

Bullying and cyberbullying

  • Bullying can happen anywhere – at school, at home or online. It’s usually repeated over a long period of time and can hurt a child both physically and emotionally.

Child trafficking

  • Child trafficking is a type of abuse where children are recruited, moved or transported and then exploited, forced to work or sold.


  • Children and young people can be groomed online or in the real world, by a stranger or by someone they know - for example a family member, friend or professional.

Harmful sexual behaviour

  • Children and young people who develop harmful sexual behaviour harm themselves and others.

Domestic abuse

  • Witnessing domestic abuse is child abuse, and teenagers can suffer domestic abuse in their relationships.

Online abuse

  • Online abuse is any type of abuse that happens on the web, whether through social networks, playing online games or using mobile phones.

Some Behaviour to Look Out for That Could Indicate Abuse

  • Signs of possible physical abuse
    • Any injuries not consistent with the explanation given for them
    • Injuries which occur to the body in places which are not normally exposed to falls or rough games
    • Injuries which have not received medical attention
    • Reluctance to change for, or participate in, games or swimming
    • Bruises, bites, burns and fractures, for example, which do not have an accidental explanation
    • The young person gives inconsistent accounts for the cause of injuries
    • Frozen watchfulness
  • Signs of possible sexual abuse
    • Any allegations made by a young person concerning sexual abuse
    • The young person has an excessive preoccupation with sexual matters and inappropriate knowledge of adult sexual behaviour for their age, or regularly engages in sexual play inappropriate for their age
    • Sexual activity through words, play or drawing
    • Repeated urinary infections or unexplained stomach pains
    • The young person is sexually provocative or seductive with adults
    • Inappropriate bed-sharing arrangements at home
    • Severe sleep disturbances with fears, phobias, vivid dreams or nightmares which sometimes have overt or veiled sexual connotations
    • Eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia.
  • Signs of possible emotional abuse
    • Depression, aggression, extreme anxiety, changes or regression in mood or behaviour, particularly where a young person withdraws or becomes clingy
    • Obsessions or phobias
    • Sudden underachievement or lack of concentration
    • Seeking adult attention and not mixing well with other young people
    • Sleep or speech disorders
    • Negative statements about self
    • Highly aggressive or cruel to others
    • Extreme shyness or passivity
    • Running away, stealing and lying
  • Signs of possible neglect
    • Dirty skin, body smells, unwashed, uncombed hair and untreated lice
    • Clothing that is dirty, too big or small, or inappropriate for weather conditions
    • Frequently left unsupervised or alone
    • Frequent diarrhoea
    • Frequent tiredness
    • Untreated illnesses, infected cuts or physical complaints which the carer does not respond to
    • Frequently hungry

It must be recognised that the above list is not exhaustive, but also that the presence of one or more of the indications is not proof that abuse is taking place. It is NOT the responsibility of those working on the course to decide that child abuse is occurring. It IS their responsibility to act on any concerns.

All personnel should adhere to the following principles and action:

Good Practise

  • Where possible work in an open environment (e.g. avoiding private or unobserved situations and encouraging open communication with no secrets);
  • Make your sessions fun and enjoyable: promote fairness, confront and deal with bullying;
  • Treat all young people equally and with respect and dignity
  • Maintain a safe and appropriate distance from students;
  • Avoid unnecessary physical contact with young people. Where any form of manual/physical support is required it should be provided openly and with the consent of the young person. Physical contact can be appropriate so long as it is neither intrusive nor disturbing;
  • Be an excellent role model, this includes not smoking or drinking alcohol in the company of young people;
  • Always give enthusiastic and constructive feedback rather than negative criticism;
  • Recognising the developmental needs and capacity of the young person and do not risk sacrificing welfare in a desire for personal achievements.

Poor Practice

  • Unnecessarily spending excessive amounts of time alone with young people away from others;
  • Taking young people alone in a car on journeys, however short;
  • Taking young people to your home where they will be alone with you;
  • Engaging in rough, physical or sexually provocative games, including horseplay;
  • Allow or engage in inappropriate touching of any form;
  • Allowing young people to use inappropriate language unchallenged;
  • Making sexually suggestive comments to a young person, even in fun;
  • Reducing a young person to tears as a form of control;
  • Allow allegations made by a young person to go unchallenged, unrecorded or not acted upon;
  • Do things of a personal nature that the young person can do for themselves.

Never assume! Your small observation could paint part of a bigger picture.

If during your care you accidentally hurt a young person, the young person seems distressed in any manner, appears to be sexually aroused by your actions and/or if the young person misunderstands or misinterprets something you have done, report any such incidents as soon as possible to the DSL and/or the other member of staff and make a written note of it in the Incident Log.

Further Key Points to Add

Mobile Phones/ Tablets/ iPads – Courses

  • On non-residential courses, young people should not be bringing a mobile phone/ tablet/ iPad with them. If they do happen to bring one of these devices, ensure that it is turned off during the day. It would be good practice for staff to collect such devices and return them to the owner at the end of the day.
  • On residential courses, young people are likely to bring a mobile phone/ tablet/ iPad with them. Activity on such devices should be monitored. Young people should only be allowed to use such devices during supervised mealtimes and free time activities.
  • The Course Lead or Project Director will have access to the Company phone/ tablet/ iPad, which they can use to take photos of attendees during the week to share with parents via email. Photos can only be taken of children whose parents have provided prior written consent, i.e. ticked photo authorisation in the registration form.
  • Where appropriate, Role Models may be given permission to take photos of activities that children are partaking in on their personal devices. It is the Role Models responsibility to remove ALL these photos from ALL of their devices at the end of the week.
  • If a staff member needs to use their phone to WhatsApp or text or make a call during the day, they should do their best to carry out such activities away from young people on the course, e.g. outside or in a separate room. In an emergency situation, this rule does not apply.
  • See also our E-Saftey Policy

Photos of Young People

  • You must not take any photos of a child/children without prior written consent.
  • The Role Models Team will contact the parent separately regarding taking photos for marketing purposes – this is not of any concern to the Role Model.
  • You must not under any circumstances post photos on social media. This includes Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and other social networks.

Extreme views

  • Role Models also observes the Prevent duty issued by the UK Department for Education. Prevent is part of the national counter-terrorism strategy and aims to stop people being drawn into or supporting terrorism.
  • If you have any concerns regarding the young person expressing extremist or radical views or depicting behaviour related to such, then please report any such concerns as soon as possible to the DSL.
  • Similarly, as a Role Model, you should not be expressing extremist or radical views or depicting behaviour related to such in the company of a young person.

Understanding the risk of extremism:

  • Staff, students and other adults may already hold extremist views.
  • Or, whilst attending the programme, they may be influenced by a range of factors: global events, peer pressure, media, family views, extremist materials (hardcopy or online), external speakers, friends or relatives being harmed, social networks, and more
  • People from all kinds of backgrounds can become radicalised. There are some common factors that can make people vulnerable to radicalisation, these do not have to be present and again, anyone can be radicalised.
    • Struggling with a sense of identity
    • Becoming distanced from their cultural or religious background
    • Questioning their place in society
    • Family issues
    • Experiencing a traumatic event
    • Experiencing racism or discrimination
    • Difficulty in interacting socially and lacking empathy
    • Difficulty in understanding the consequences of their actions
    • Low self-esteem

Any of these issues could make someone more susceptible to believing that extremists’ claims are the answer to their problems.

External factors play their part too, such as: community tension, events affecting the country or region where they or their parents are from, or having friends or family who have joined extremist groups. Exposure to one-sided points of view all contribute to the process of radicalisation.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

  • If you have any concerns relating to a young person experiencing FGM, then please report any such concerns as soon as possible to the DSL

Guidelines for ensuring that staff maintains professional boundaries with participants

It is important to enforce professional boundaries when working with programme participants. These will ensure that staff members are not leaving themselves open to any abuse allegations:

  • Avoid over familiar behaviour such as personal disclosure or discussion of own private life, building up a relationship that goes beyond professional or establishing a relationship that could create a level of dependency between each other
  • Open Door Policy – If you ever find yourself in a room alone with a young person, ensure that the door is kept open.
  • Do not have any personal contact with participants either by phone, email or social networking sites or meeting up outside of the Role Models programme remit
  • Do not give lifts to participants in your car as detailed above
  • Avoid inappropriate language or behaviour
  • Dress appropriately (no offensive remarks on t-shirts or revealing clothing)
  • Establish a caring but professional set of boundaries with participants
  • Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you promise to keep anything connected to a safeguarding concern private. A participant may ask you to keep a 'secret' which we can not do if we are concerned for their welfare and safeguarding.

What to do if a young person discloses to you or a member of your team

If a young person makes a disclosure of abuse, please monitor record and consult as follows:

A) Monitor by carefully observing the young person when you have contact:

  1. Offer a private space for discussion but let someone else know where you are, or move to a more open but private space. Never have a conversation in a room on your own with the door closed.
  2. Always take the allegation seriously. Ensure that you do not ask leading questions or investigate the claim or confront the perpetrator.
  3. Always listen to and support the young person and thank them for helping you to understand.
  4. You can never promise to keep a secret, and it is good to let them know this as soon as you are able.
  5. Let them know that as this is a Child Protection issue that you will need to speak to the Designated Safeguarding Officer who may then need to speak with Social Services or other relevant authority.
  6. Don’t make promises you can’t keep but do reassure the young person they have been right to tell you.
  7. Don’t be afraid of saying the “wrong” thing. Maintain a calm appearance.
  8. Give the young person your full attention and let the young person take his or her time and use his or her own words.
  9. Accept the young person will disclose only what is comfortable and recognise the bravery/strength of them for talking about something that is difficult.
  10. Tell the young person what you plan to do next. Use age appropriate words and make sure that they understand what you are telling them.
  11. Depending on the severity of the allegation and whether it would be appropriate, check whether the young person is willing to carry on with the Role Models programme that you are working or volunteering on.

B) Consult with the nominated Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) or their Deputy as soon as possible

  1. If the disclosure happens during programme delivery you may need to ask a colleague to support your young people while you make the call. Do not leave off calling the DSL
  2. It is not your role to deal with the abuse allegation but it is your role to pass it on at your earliest opportunity to the DSL and to support the young person who has made the disclosure until other guidance is given.
  3. If the disclosure is about the DSL however, please contact an alternative member of the Safeguarding Team

C) Record your concerns factually and non-judgmentally (not in front of the young person if possible)

  1. Write down exactly what happened as soon after the disclosure as possible
  2. Write facts only
  3. If it is your opinion that the young person was upset write “in my opinion the participant was upset because they were crying”
  4. Sign, time and date the form

If there is a serious and immediate threat to the child or young person then you must call 999 immediately.

Any recorded incident will be stored securely in Podio, Role Models CRM system. This system is secure and confidential access can be given to those who the DSL determines necessary. Any details recorded on paper will be shredded.

Useful Contacts

Role Models are based in the London borough of Wandsworth.

  • Safeguarding Standards Service
    • 020 8871 7208
  • Social Care Out of Hours Service
    • 020 8871 6000

For Role Models programmes in London the following are the contacts for theWandsworth Prevent Programme. Only Role Models' Safeguarding Team should contact Prevent to ensure that we have assessed the need for a referral is appropriate and proportionate, this should not be done by members of staff outside of the Safeguarding Team.

  • Wandsworth Prevent Programme:

Messages will only be collected during office hours (Monday to Friday 9am - 5pm)

We are committed to reviewing our policy and procedures annually. This policy was last reviewed in January 2024.