We have put in place a bespoke training programme for staff and volunteers as part of our commitment to providing safe and inspirational experiences for the growing numbers of young people enjoying our waterways.
As a supporter of the Step Up to Serve Campaign, which aims to facilitate more youth social action, we have worked with several thousand young people this year and helped them get involved in social action and waterway activities for the first time. We are now stepping up our own action and improving internal skills and knowledge to benefit even more young people in the future.
Caroline Killeavy, head of community engagement said:
“Getting people involved in and excited about canals and rivers from an early age can lead to a lifelong appreciation and we are really pleased with the growing interest in waterways from young people, youth groups and higher education institutions. As more and more young people become involved in our work, the greater the need for clear, practical guidance and robust processes to ensure that the young people we come into contact with have an enjoyable, valuable experience and are protected from harm in every way.
“National Safeguarding Day on 29 February was the charitable sector's chance to raise awareness of the vital importance of effective safeguarding procedures, and it provided a good time for the Trust to reaffirm our commitment to keeping young people in our care safe. We want to act as a flagship for high quality youth volunteering and use our role to encourage best practice across the waterways, and we’re hoping to share and exchange experiences with other waterways organisations.”
Working with the National Council for Voluntary Youth Services (NCVYS) we have designed a bespoke training programme for those involved with the waterways, to improve the safeguarding for children, young people and adults at risk, and has pledged to roll it out to our staff and volunteers throughout 2016/7.
The pledge, made as part of NCVYS’s National Safeguarding Day, comes as we continue to see a dramatic increase in both the number of young people we engage with and the range and the diversity of youth activities and opportunities offered to young people. With a number of high profile partnerships, including with the Scouts Association and projects like the Desmond Family Canoe Trail, we aim to involve thousands of young people over the next year. Our Explorer education programme alone will engage over 45,000 children this year.
This year we have also appointed our first Designated Safeguarding Officer, created a Steering Group to consider risks and further improvements, and had a new safeguarding policy approved by our Trustees. Volunteers from the youth sector and our advisory board have provided invaluable advice and assistance in making these improvements. We are now planning to create a Youth Board to help with strategic decision making.