To ensure that appropriate and proportional safeguarding processes and procedures are in place to support all stakeholders, Royal Voluntary Service has ensured it is following advice or guidance from appropriate bodies. This includes, but is not limited to, Home Office, NHS England, Disclosure and Barring Service, Department of Health and Social Care, CQC and Charity Commission. As a result Royal Voluntary Service has robust and multi-layered safeguarding processes in place for the relevant stakeholders within the programme.
Risk assessments are reviewed when:
- New volunteer activities are introduced
- Safeguarding concerns are identified through processes such as DBS applications, complaints, incidents or comments received by stakeholders
- Changes are made to the eligible supported people cohort criteria; and/or
- A number of inappropriate referrals are received.
Safeguarding Leads, from both NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care, offer peer support during their monthly review of the NHS Volunteer safeguarding reports. As a result of these peer reviews and discussions, assurance is provided to the joint-commissioners that Royal Voluntary Service has adequate safeguarding in place. Serious concerns are escalated immediately through Royal Voluntary Service organisational processes, as required by the commissioning assurance process. If required, and in addition to the monthly reviews, exceptional meetings can be called to review cases or emerging themes.
There are a range of mitigating actions in place to ensure the safety of both individuals being supported and volunteers, including, but not limited to:
- Safety information is provided to all people being supported upon referral into the scheme.
- Volunteers receive the appropriate activity-based guidance and safeguarding information once they have been approved to volunteer, and before being permitted to undertake any tasks. Further reminders about safeguarding processes are included in ongoing volunteer communications, such as social media, and volunteer newsletters.
- Identification checks were undertaken on all volunteers upon application to the scheme, which required a driving licence, passport, or 2 utility bills to confirm identity. Applicants to the scheme who were unable to provide sufficient evidence, were not accepted into the scheme.
- Additional checks and safeguarding assurances, such as DBS, are also required for certain activities depending on the tasks being undertaken.
- The scheme has connections with both the police and National Crime Agency, as well as other leading national and local statutory services and bodies, asking that they inform Royal Voluntary Service of any inappropriate Volunteer Responder known to them. In such circumstances, this will lead to instant removal of the volunteer from the scheme.
- A Safeguarding Team is in place at Royal Voluntary Service to pick up any concerns regarding people receiving services or volunteers. Safeguarding processes include:
- All concerns are passed onto the referrer. If there is no referrer present, the person’s GP or other most appropriate agency is contacted, ensuring they are aware of the identified concerns.
- Working with the organisation’s volunteering department to identify and support concerns regarding volunteers.
- The Support Team is available to support volunteers and patients with any queries. A phone line, 0808 196 3382 is open between 8am and 8pm, 7 days a week. Royal Voluntary Service can escalate concerns to the Safeguarding Team or the Problem Solving Team, if required.
- Further follow-up support is provided to both people receiving support and volunteers where required.
- Liaising with all relevant local/national statutory services, bodies or organisations to support and resolve safeguarding concerns. This could be on an ad hoc basis, depending on the nature of safeguarding cases, or regular contact and sharing of learning to develop processes.
- The GoodSAM app provides identification for volunteers; shows what task they are undertaking at the current time; and records volunteers as they are undertaking tasks.
- Volunteers should only undertake tasks during the permitted hours of 8am to 8pm. This helps ensure that any arising concerns of volunteers or people receiving support, can be raised swiftly during the times the phone lines are in operation.
- Community Response Volunteers supporting someone's prescription drop-off, are asked to provide a second photo identification to the pharmacy when volunteering.
- The GoodSAM system matches volunteers within a locality, against a task required, in real time, (with the exception of Check In and Chat Volunteers, which link to a volunteer anywhere in England). This means volunteers do not continue to volunteer for the same person. If this does occur, volunteers are asked to only do this twice within a 6-week period, to ensure limited development of informal volunteer/supported people relationships.
- For certain activities, a volunteer is permitted to support the same individual numerous times over a limited time period. For these activities, robust guidance and advice is given to both volunteers and the people they are supporting. Once the time period is over, a new referral must be submitted if requested by the person being supported and/or relevant referrer.
- People self-referring into the scheme are required to provide details of their GP.
- Depending on the task and activities, certain referrals can only be submitted by relevant health professionals.
- Volunteers are not allowed to take volunteering ‘off-line’ by providing their own telephone numbers, or other contact details, to provide contact and support outside of the programme and activity parameters.
- Volunteers are not permitted to keep contact details of the people they supported following successful delivery of their task; and the GoodSAM system removes these details from the app once the task has been completed.