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For some people, the feeling of being unsafe or excluded from sport is a significant barrier to being involved.

Organisations delivering sport and physical activity need to create safer cultures, look out for the welfare of all adults involved and play a crucial role in keeping adults safe.  

In order to do this effectively, organisations need to be aware of the policies and processes they should have in place to ensure that any concerns are acted upon and dealt with appropriately.  

What does safeguarding adults mean?

All adults, referring to any person over the age of 18, have the right to be protected from abuse and poor practice.  

The Care Act 2014 defines safeguarding adults as protecting an adult’s right to live in safety, free from abuse and neglect.

It's about people and organisations working together to prevent and stop both the risks and experience of abuse or neglect, whilst also making sure that the adult’s wellbeing is prioritised. 

How you deal with concerns will depend on the adult and the issue. Some concerns may need an immediate response from the emergency services. Some issues may require you to signpost people to services in their area such as a charity.

Others may need a referral to the local Safeguarding Adults team. You can find their details on the page of your Local Safeguarding Adults Board

You may have heard the term ‘Adults at Risk’, which is the criteria that Local Authority Safeguarding Adults teams use.

It refers specifically to an adult who has a care and support need, who is experiencing, or is at risk of, abuse or neglect and may need help with keeping themselves safe.

More information about adults at risk can be found at the link below. 

Adults at risk definition

Ann Craft Trust

The Ann Craft Trust is a leading UK authority on safeguarding adults. They support organisations, including those in the sport and physical activity sector, to safeguard adults and minimise the risk of harm through the provision of advice, guidance, resources and training - links to which are provided throughout this page. 

We've worked with the trust to create a video and podcast to provide you with more information on safeguarding adults. 

Ann Craft Trust podcast

Top tips

  • Why is safeguarding adults important?

    As an organisation delivering sport and physical activity to adults you have both a legal and moral responsibility to all participants, members, volunteers, paid staff and visitors to create safer cultures and protect them from harm or abuse.

    There are various government initiatives and legislation that underpin and support safeguarding adults at risk, which clubs and groups should consider and be aware of.

    More information on these can be found on the Ann Craft Trust website.  

  • Types of abuse for adults

    There are many different types of abuse that could raise concerns for the welfare of adults at your organisation.

    You may have concerns about things that are happening in your organisation, or things that are happening outside. 

    The Care Act, 2014 recognises 10 categories of abuse that adults may experience. The first four are similar to types of harm for children and you will probably also recognise financial abuse as there has been lots of publicity about this.

    The others relate to the organisations and situations that people are in. 

    These are: 

    • Physical abuse
    • Sexual abuse 
    • Emotional/psychological/mental abuse
    • Neglect or acts of omission
    • Financial or material abuse
    • Discriminatory abuse
    • Organisational abuse 
    • Self-neglect
    • Domestic abuse (including coercive control)
    • Modern day slavery.

    The Ann Craft Trust have also highlighted four additional types of harm not currently included in the 2014 Act, which are: 

    • Cyber bullying 
    • Forced marriage
    • Hate crime
    • Radicalisation. 

    You can find out more about the types of harm and abuse on the Ann Craft Trust website

  • Who's responsible for safeguarding adults?

    Safeguarding adults is everyone’s responsibility. Everyone at your organisation should be aware of and adhere to your safeguarding policy and the processes you have in place to support and protect adults.

    This includes knowing how to report concerns or allegations of abuse or poor practice, and who to.

    This includes athletes and participants themselves, so provide accessible information about how your organisation is supporting them and where they can go if they have a concern. 

    Organisations will also need to have a designated Welfare Officer in place who has primary responsibility for putting safeguarding procedures in place.

    Your Welfare Officer should have received adequate training and information about the role they are undertaking, including a clear role description.

    Click here for an example Welfare Officer role description

  • Principles of safeguarding adults

    The Care Act 2014 also sets out six key principles that should underpin an organisation’s safeguarding adults processes, including: 

    • Empowerment – involve adults in making their own decisions about the outcome of any safeguarding concern. Talk to people about what they want to happen. 
    • Prevention – create a safer culture. Provide information about types of abuse and where to go for help so that everyone at your organisation takes action before harm occurs. 
    • Proportionality – when dealing with a safeguarding concern or allegations of abuse try to make your response appropriate to the risk presented and be informed in your response by the person involved. 
    • Protection – ensure that key personnel within your organisation know how to respond to a safeguarding concern and support those reporting incidents of abuse through the processes you have in place. 
    • Partnership – work with services within your local community. Find out what they do, how you can link with them and how you can signpost people to them. 
    • Accountability – be accountable and transparent in safeguarding efforts. Ensure that everyone at your organisation understands the role they can play in helping to create a safer culture and safeguard adults. 

    Click here for more information on these six key principles