How unnecessary safeguarding rules sap resources and good will

I just received this email from a trustee of a charity – who wishes to remain anonymous – about the corrosive effect ‘safeguarding’ rules are having on the work of his organisation. Unnecessary proceedures poison the work of the organisation and can absorb scarce resources…

“The vetting and barring regime continues to have detrimental effects on the operation of charities. As a trustee I, and others, am faced with re-assuring our staff, officers, and volunteers that the actions they are taking are reasonable in the light of ever increasing fears of the consequences if something goes wrong, especially when volunteers are visiting “vulnerable” people. Rather than vetting creating re-assurance it is creating anxiety through an attempt to have rules covering all eventualities.

For example, if a volunteer is visiting a client in the evening or at the weekend we may have to consider offering an emergency contact point for the volunteer just to cover ourselves. The local authority under whose rules we work is reluctant to give detailed guidance. Volunteers using common sense if they encounter a problem wouldn’t be enough.

Should we pay extra to staff for this, and if so how much? Is it fair to burden staff with out-of-hours duty, or unnerve volunteers in this way? It will encourage reporting of irrelevant or minor incidents “just to be on the safe side.” Worse though, it puts our volunteering programme at risk and trust is disappearing from our system.”