Safeguarding Adults in Sport Week

November 14, 2019

We have joined with the Cumbria Safeguarding Adults Board to raise awareness about Safeguarding in Sport and Physical Activity. 

National Safeguarding Adults Week takes place next week (18th – 24th November) when we will provide a focus for the sport and activity sector to raise its knowledge on the issues adults face within safeguarding.

Safeguarding is everyone’s business and safeguarding adults is a responsibility for every sport and physical activity organisation working with adults. It should not be seen as just the duty of local authorities and the police. People working and volunteering in the sport and physical activity sector should be given the skills and confidence to raise their concerns if they suspect abuse and, importantly, to overcome resistance to their suspicions. In addition sports and physical activity organisations have a duty to ensure that adults are able to take part fully, free from abuse and neglect

Safeguarding Adults in Sport and Activity is a project delivered by Ann Craft Trust - a leading UK authority on safeguarding, and is funded by Sport England to help sport and activity organisations including National Governing Bodies, Active Partnerships and regional partnerships to develop best practice in safeguarding adults at risk.

The government highlighted in the Sporting Future Strategy that ‘feeling unsafe or excluded from sport is a significant barrier to getting involved in sport and physical activity for some groups’

Cumberland FA is just one of the many organisations in Cumbria that have listened to this feedback and is leading the way to ensure that people feel safe and included. As well as running a multitude of active football leagues for children, women, adults and veterans, Cumberland FA run a successful Open age pan disability football League.  The Ability Counts League (supported by Cumberland Building Society) has 3 divisions of teams playing monthly fixtures. In addition they have Walking Football sessions for older people to keep fit and socialise, this includes a specific group for people with Dementia.

Awareness raising has also been a priority for Cumberland FA. They have teamed up with Carlisle United and Cumbria Police on a project called ‘United Against Abuse’ - a county-wide football themed campaign on showing domestic abuse the red card. The latest campaign is all about Rainbow laces - a campaign from Stonewall UK to promote inclusion and celebrate LGBT people in sport.

Cumberland Football Association Chief Executive Officer Ben Snowden said: “Grassroots football is often a microcosm of wider society and whilst The FA’s Respect programme is having an impact on behaviour any report of abuse is one too many.  We therefore hope that in raising awareness we will send a message that abuse, of whatever type, will not be accepted inside or outside of football.”

Cumbria Rugby Union are another organisation hot on the topic of adult safeguarding, their core values focus on teamwork, respect, enjoyment, discipline and sportsmanship - they define the game and work to create and maintain a safe and positive environment for everyone to play and enjoy the sport. Everyone shares the responsibility for safeguarding and creating safe environments in rugby union whether as a parent, coach, spectator or club official.

Debbie Verral Safeguarding Lead at Cumbria Rugby Union said:  

“The ethos in Rugby Union is that everyone involved has a shared responsibility to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all adults, and this is underpinned by formal training. Play it Safe is the safeguarding training that we expect all club senior officials to attend to ensure they are aware of their statutory responsibilities in regards to safeguarding. In addition to this requirement we have a RugbySafe course for all club safeguarding and welfare leads to ensure the welfare of all adults involved, particularly those deemed to be at risk.

We are increasing participation in Rugby Union and opening the game to wider audiences. Through our training programmes Clubs are aware of the types of abuse that adults could be at risk of. They are able to spot the signs and indicators of abuse and know what to do if they gave concerns or if someone raises concerns with them.”

Safeguarding adults includes working to prevent abuse from occurring within sport and physical activity, and responding proportionately if abuse or neglect has occurred. Abuse can come in many forms. The week Active Cumbria will be using social media to give ideas on how sport and physical activity organisations can work to keep adults safe from abuse and neglect and create a safe culture for everyone participating.

Richard Johnston, Senior Manager & Safeguarding Lead from Active Cumbria said:

“This is the first ever National Safeguarding Adults Week and we are proud that Active Cumbria are right behind it. We have joined the county-wide Safeguarding Adults Board in the ethos that this week is about being better, together. With them, we will be using this week to promote best practice to ensure that Safeguarding Adults is on the agenda for every sports and physical activity organisation in the county”.