Ensuring that people live in safety is a right that should not be underestimated, and Homeless Stars Housing takes this right seriously. Most of the people who have come into our service have had to flee persecution, oppression or violence abroad, and in their journeys to get into the United Kingdom. Whilst they are in our service, Homeless Stars Housing seeks to ensure all residents are free from any potential for further abuse, discrimination or oppression.
Whilst there are many and different personal circumstances, many of our residents have complex interpersonal relationships. They are often sharing accommodation with others they would not have chosen to live with, which can create a complex dynamic, but ensuring that they are free from abuse is paramount. Ensuring their wishes and feelings, views and beliefs are upheld for our residents is a critical part of this dynamic. Promoting wellbeing is essential in ensuring that they are able to live in safety.
Homeless Stars Housing residents do fall under the definition of vulnerable adults, and the charity does seek to house people who fall into a particularly vulnerable group. For example, people with mental health, learning disabilities, alcohol and drug misuse.
PART ONE: OBJECTIVES AND PRACTICE
There are a number of factors that need to be considered to ensure that people are safe from the potential of abuse, and this needs the cooperation of everyone within an organisation. Homeless Stars Housing is committed to ensuring that everyone who is involved with the charity is aware of their own individual responsibilities. This includes board members, subgroup members, staff, volunteers and students. Residents also need to be aware of their responsibilities to each other.
- Empowerment: residents have a right to make their own decisions and to have autonomy and control over their lives. Ensuring that they have the option to provide informed consent is an important element of them having that control.
- Prevention: residents need to be in a position where the likelihood of abuse or neglect is minimised so that any potential threat can be reduced before harm occurs.
- Proportional: any preventative measures must enhance residents’ wellbeing and not restrict their individual choices, unless there is a risk that abuse may occur due to their actions.
- Partnership: working with other organisations is a critical part of ensuring that any risk of abuse is minimised, and there are times when external agencies need to be involved. Ensuring that community cohesion is maintained will often involve other parties in preventing, detecting and reporting abuse or neglect.
- Protect: working with residents to ensure that they are protected from harm is essential to ensuring their wellbeing and safety.
- Accountability: ensuring that all staff and volunteers who work for Homeless Stars Housing have appropriate line management and supervision so that any potential for abuse is minimised.
Homeless Stars Housing has a responsibility to provide support and supervision to its staff, volunteers and students, and also has a responsibility to them to ensure that they have working conditions that are safe and free from the potential for abuse.
Making Safeguarding Personal:
Under the Care Act 2014, there is a duty to ensure that all parties involved with an organisation are given an opportunity to have their voice heard through any safeguarding process. All organisations that have a responsibility for people, whether working for them or their clients, must ensure that a person-centred approach is taken and that everyone has a right to have their opinions considered within this process. Homeless Stars Housing strongly endorses this approach and making safeguarding personal is at the heart of the decision making process.
Within this process, Homeless Stars Housing has a duty to act if there have been suspicions, allegations or reports that any abuse or the potential for abuse has taken place. There is a duty to protect people, and disclosing this information to the relevant party is part of this process. Where residents have care and support needs, whether or not they are eligible for local authority services, they have a right to be free from abuse or neglect, particularly but not exclusively if they are unable to protect themselves.
Any potential for abuse or any abuse that has occurred must be reported to the relevant agency. All suspected abuse must initially be reported within the organisation, and also to other agencies depending on the nature of the abuse. If a crime has been committed it must be reported to the police, and if abuse is suspected it must be reported to Homeless Stars Housing Designated Safeguarding Lead. It is essential that if any such abuse has taken place or is believed to have taken place that this is reported to the relevant agencies. It is not an individual’s responsibility to decide if abuse has taken place, but they should contact the Designated Safeguarding Lead about any concerns so that a decision can be taken about whether an investigation should be initiated.
Other organisational policies need to be taken into account, such as the disciplinary policy. Where a member of Homeless Stars Housing’s staff, a volunteer or a student has breached this Safeguarding policy, t is essential that the protection of the residents is maintained and, if necessary, that person is removed from front line duties whilst an investigation takes place. This will be the responsibility of the individual’s line manager, in consultation with the Designated Safeguarding Lead. They will ensure that appropriate representation, where applicable, is made to the police and within the organisation to the Board of Directors.
Another key policy is the confidentiality policy; residents have a right to confidentiality, but this is not absolute. Where consent is given then information should be shared, but in the case that abuse may have or has occurred, this confidence must be overridden so that any potential for abuse is minimised. Any incident must be reported to a line manager and the Designated Safeguarding Lead, but confidentiality must be maintained from other residents or staff to prevent further abuse occurring. The Designated Safeguarding Lead will provide advice on this at such times. There is a need to act in a timely manner in such cases.
Residents have a right to live free from abuse or coercion, and to have their dignity maintained. Services need to be designed to promote safety, and Homeless Stars Housing has a duty to promote services to this end. Recruiting volunteers and staff on this basis is essential, and the recruitment policy reflects this, by ensuring that appropriate references are sought.
Staff, volunteers and students have a right to be protected from harm, and the lone working policy will be implemented if there is a risk to themselves from others, including residents. If they have themselves been subjected to a targeted assault, then it is the responsibility of the line manager in consultation with the Designated Safeguarding Lead to ensure that they are appropriately supported and that their named person is contacted. Homeless Stars has a duty to ensure that they have the support that they need in such an eventuality.
PART TWO: PROCEDURES
Forms of Abuse:
Abuse can come in many forms, with many intentions and can have a wide ranging impact upon the person who has been abused. There may be several different types of abuse that a person may be subjected to, and even some of the more subtle forms may have a more devastating effect than more obvious forms. As a consequence, being aware of all forms and intentions is critical to ensuring that harm is prevented.
The following categories of abuse are the most common:
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Psychological and emotional abuse
- Financial abuse
- Neglect or acts of omission, including self-neglect
- Discriminatory abuse
- Domestic violence
- Institutional abuse or poor practice
Other types of abuse are defined which include:
- Female genital mutilation
- Forced marriage
- Honour-based violence
- Human trafficking and Modern slavery
- Hate crime
Homeless Stars Housing is aware that, even if abuse is not occurring at this moment in time, many of our residents will have experienced some abuse either in their home country or on their way to the United Kingdom, and many of our residents may be experiencing some form of post-traumatic stress, whether diagnosed or not. As a consequence, it is essential to ensure that they are able to live in a way that does not exacerbate this condition.
Recognising signs and symptoms:
It is essential that all front line staff and volunteers are aware of the needs of the resident with whom they are working and seek to ensure that any signs or symptoms are reported to their line manager in a timely manner. This is especially the case if there has been a history of physical or mental suffering or degrading treatment or if their rights have been violated, whether in their home country or in their journey into the UK.
Responding to alerts or concerns:
If a member of staff, volunteer or student is made aware of a potential safeguarding enquiry, it is essential that they are aware of how to respond in such an eventuality. Each member of Homeless Stars Housing needs to follow a set approach as detailed below:
- Listen to the allegation and provide any immediate reassurance necessary
- Be calm not shocked
- Advise them that the information will be taken seriously
- Do not try to investigate or ask leading questions
- Make it clear that secrets cannot be kept
- Record and report the information
Once the initial information has been gathered it is essential that the following process is followed:
- Be aware of your own personal safety
- Call an ambulance or the police if needed
- Do not contaminate any evidence but preserve anything that might been needed later
- Ensure that the information is recorded
Following making sure that the immediate safety of those involved is assured, then raise a Safeguarding enquiry:
- Report to your line manager who will inform the Designated Safeguarding Lead within Homeless
- If a crime has been committed, ensure the police are contacted
- If there is a possibility that it may be linked to terrorism contact the Prevent Team
Ensure that all records are completed and that the relevant people have been notified. Seek to inform people on a need to know basis only, and ensure that confidentiality is maintained within the limits set out above (i.e. do not tell other residents unless not doing so would put them at risk). Any reports must be factual and not contain opinions. Report to your line manager who will inform the Designated Safeguarding Lead. All records kept must be in compliance with the Data Protection Act and be securely stored. It is essential to keep all notes that may have been taken prior to completing formal records as they may be required in any investigation.
All staff and volunteers receive an induction to working with residents which includes discussion of the Safeguarding process, how to report incidents and the procedure for raising a Safeguarding enquiry within Homeless Stars Housing. If there are concerns about a member of staff, volunteer or student whereby they need additional training, this will be sourced at such a time that this is identified. During the induction training all staff, volunteers or students are briefed about treating residents with respect. Any additional training will be on an individual need.
Designated Safeguarding Lead:
The roles and responsibilities of the Designated Safeguarding Lead are to ensure that:
- All staff, volunteers and students are aware of what to do if faced with a Safeguarding enquiry
- Record and act on concerns, and ensure that the following agencies are notified
- The police if any crime has been committed
- The Prevent team if any links to terrorism are suspected
- The Board of Directors of Homeless Stars Housing.
- Follow up on referrals to ensure that they are acted upon to reduce the future risks of abuse
- Manage any issues that involve staff, volunteers or students and, in conjunction with line managers and supervisors.
- Ensure support is given if they have been distressed or harmed by an incident
- Ensure that appropriate and robust supervision is provided
- Decide whether to remove from front line duties, where applicable
- Facilitate any additional training identified
- Implement the disciplinary procedure, where applicable
- Ensure confidentiality and data security is maintained
- Promote best practice and ensure appropriate training is facilitated for all those working with residents within the organisation.
APPENDIX ONE: DEFINITIONS OF ABUSE
- Physical abuse: includes hitting, pushing, pinching, shaking, scalding, inappropriate restraint, hair-pulling and misuse of medication
- Sexual abuse: includes rape or sexual assault, any sexual act to which the person has not consented, pressure to watch inappropriate material
- Psychological and emotional abuse: includes threats of harm, abandonment, deprivation of contact, humiliation, intimidation, coercion, harassment, verbal abuse, with-holding services
- Financial abuse: includes theft, fraud, exploitation, pressure to make wills or related to property and inheritance, misuse of property, possessions or benefits
- Neglect or acts of omission, includes self-neglect: including ignoring medical or physical care needs, preventing access to health or social care or educational services, withholding food or drink or heating. Self-neglect includes one’s personal hygiene, health or environmental factors including hoarding or unkempt property
- Discriminatory abuse: includes discrimination based upon a person’sace, sexuality or disability, harassment or slurs of character
- Domestic violence: includes within a home setting such as by another resident, partner, family member or someone with whom they have a relationship
- Institutional abuse or poor practice: includes disrespect or unethical practice, ill treatment or professional misconduct
- Female genital mutilation: the removal or partial removal of external female genitalia for non-medical reasons. This causes severe pain and has long term health implications
- Forced marriage: where one or more parties do not consent to marriage and there is an element of duress or where they lack Mental Capacity. This may include physical or emotional pressure
- Honour-based violence: where violence is used due to cultural or religious beliefs to protect the honour of a family or community. This may include other forms of abuse, such as physical, emotional or psychological, forced marriage or forced abortion
- Human trafficking: the movement of people to another country without regard for immigration controls for the purposes of exploitation, forced labour or financial gain
- Modern slavery: often linked to human trafficking where slavery is forced for sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, forced labour, criminal exploitation, organ removal, forced marriage or illegal adoption
- Radicalisation: as part of the government’s counter-terrorism strategy the Prevent Agenda seeks to minimise the effect of potential radicalisation by tackling extremism at the roots and prevent people from being drawn into terrorist activity
- Hate crime: this is discriminatory abuse directly linked to hostility, prejudice or hatred due to a person’s disability, gender identity, race or ethnicity, nationality, religious belief or sexual orientation.
This list is not exclusive and is a guide to key definitions.
Date Agreed by the Board of Directors: November 2022
Date to be reviewed: December 2026