Citizens Advice Denbighshire
Citizens Advice Denbighshire (CAD) are an independent charity aligned to Citizens Advice nationally. They provide free, confidential, independent, and impartial advice, and campaign on issues affecting people’s lives. Their goal is to help everyone find a way forward, whatever problem they face. They abide by the Charity Commission’s safeguarding guidance on protecting and promoting the welfare of children and adults at risk.
The charity provides a wide range of advice services (including welfare benefits, housing, energy, debt and money matters and relationships) primarily in the Denbighshire area with some project activity elsewhere in North Wales and telephone and webchat advice services extending into England.
Advice is provided by experienced staff and volunteers normally in person at various sites or via the telephone or other remote channels. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions, in March 2020, they temporarily moved all advice and support services to remote channels i.e. through video platforms, telephone, email and webchat.
The CAD Safeguarding policy had been revised in draft to adopt recent Welsh guidance and consider remote working issues. The procedures referred only to Welsh safeguarding legislation and guidance and they required an independent review from a Safeguarding expert to review the content and effectiveness in operating with England based clients. They requested a readable and balanced Policy document that was useable by all staff and volunteers within CAD.
CAD required support in developing a training strategy for their safeguarding leads, trustees, managers, staff and volunteers; some of whom would normally provide in person advice to vulnerable people (pre-Covid 19), they requested guidance in identifying role specific levels of safeguarding training required.
Citizens Advice Denbighshire now has an up to date, easy to read inclusive Safeguarding Policy and Procedures for operating across both Wales and England. Over 70 managers, trustees, staff, and volunteers have been trained within a month.
“…the training was appropriately balanced between plenary, discussion and participation and the very prompt issue of handout materials and certificates, commendable”.
“The trainer was excellent. Very knowledgeable with a good sense of humour”.
“The training was delivered in a formal but easy to understand manner with lots of interaction with other delegates on the course”.
“Excellent delivery and an insight into how best to safeguard clients”.
“I enjoyed the session and receiving information in a clear and understandable way… It also gave me an opportunity to update on factual information and to evaluate my previous knowledge and practice”.
Graham Kendall the Business Development Officer for Citizens Advice Denbighshire said:
“The Athena Programme were a pleasure to work with, combining up to date and expert safeguarding knowledge with a professional and flexible approach to training. Their involvement has enabled us to quickly update our approach, with a high level of assurance to our policy and procedures; to effectively train our team remotely; and secure buy-in across the organisation.”
The Athena Solution
It was agreed that their Policy should incorporate English legislation and guidance to provide operational procedures for staff working across geographical boundaries. Athena further advised that new specific sections should be added to the Policy to cover the use of Social Media, Code of Conduct and an organisational specific Safeguarding recording form.
Athena also advised that a simple centralised reporting system be established for staff to report into and that Safeguarding Leads have available access for monitoring purposes.
Athena proposed a strategy for its workforce as:
- Safeguarding Children and Adults Basic awareness Level 1 Induction training for all Trustees, staff and volunteers
- Safeguarding Children and Adults Level 2 for the Managers
- Safeguarding DSL Level 3 training for the Designated Safeguarding Leads, Deputies and Lead Trustee
Athena advised that the half day Level 1 sessions would be more cost effective if they could be delivered twice in the same day. This also ensured the training programme could be completed within a short time frame.
Athena reviewed and updated the CAD Safeguarding Policy to include reference to English Safeguarding legislation and guidance. This included adding text using hyperlinks to signpost readers to relevant Government and safeguarding websites.
Athena designed a template form for recording safeguarding concerns. This has since been introduced together with a new centralised email reporting pathway.
An up to date section on the use of social media and a new Code of Conduct has been written and introduced within the Policy. All other relevant policies were signposted throughout the Safeguarding Policy. i.e. recruitment and selection.
Athena agreed a schedule of training for the whole workforce over four weeks. The Safeguarding Leads (DSO training) were trained at the start of the process followed by managers (level 2). During the next two weeks the staff and volunteers were trained to Level 1, concluding with the Trustees briefing session.
Training courses were designed to specifically incorporated CAD’s Safeguarding Policies and Procedures.
Athena worked in partnership with CAD to manage delegate attendance and invites to the Google Meet sessions. Remote delivery connectivity was consistent, punctual and secure and Google Meets provided a low tech approach to confidential and stress free training sessions connecting delegates from the UK and overseas in the same session.
Athena updated CAD regularly on delegates non – attendance which led to the scheduling of a ‘Mop Up’ event to conclude the training programme.