Epic Tales Safeguarding Policy 2023
Epic Tales fully recognises the responsibility it has under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 (as amended by Protection of Freedoms Act 2012) to have arrangements in place to safeguard and promote the welfare of vulnerable individuals who may be present among the audiences and participants of its performances and workshops, including children. Anyone working on behalf of Epic Tales has a responsibility to:
- identify concerns early to prevent them from escalating;
- provide a safe environment for vulnerable individuals;
- identify vulnerable individuals who may benefit from early help;
- know what to do if a vulnerable individual reports that they are being abused or neglected; and
- follow the referral process if they have a concern.
Our policy applies to everyone working for Epic Tales, including staff, freelancers, and volunteers. Any such person may be the first point of disclosure for a vulnerable individual. Concerned parents/carers may also contact Epic Tales.
There are four main elements to our policy:
PREVENTION through the creation and maintenance of a whole company protective ethos;
PROCEDURES for identifying and referring cases, or suspected cases, of abuse or exploitation;
SUPPORT, particularly for those who may have been abused or witnessed violence towards others; and
PREVENTING UNSUITABLE PEOPLE WORKING WITH VULNERABLE INDIVIDUALS by following processes to ensure that those who are unsuitable to work with vulnerable individuals are not employed or engaged by the company.
We recognise that good lines of communication with trustworthy practitioners can help to protect vulnerable individuals. Epic Tales team-members will therefore:
- establish and maintain an environment where vulnerable individuals feel safe, including in a digital context, and are encouraged to talk and are listened to;
- ensure vulnerable individuals know that they can approach Epic Tales team-members if they are worried or in difficulty, and their concerns will be taken seriously and acted upon as appropriate;
- tailor our performances and workshops to appropriate to the specific needs and vulnerabilities of the present audience and participants;
- incorporate into their performances and workshops activities and opportunities to promote understanding, inclusion, and equality;
- challenge any instances of prejudice-related behaviour, including but not limited to instances of sexism, misogyny/misandry, homophobia, biphobia, and sexual violence/harassment.
As soon as possible upon arrival to deliver performances or workshops, all Epic Tales team-members will identify the Designated Safeguarding Lead for the organisation which engaged Epic Tales to provide services, so as to advise vulnerable individuals on the correct reporting procedure if necessary.
If any Epic Tales team-member feels they need to report a safeguarding concern, they will do so by following the reporting procedure of the organisation which engaged Epic Tales to provide services and to one of the Safeguarding Leads for Epic Tales.
The Designated Safeguarding Lead is Chip Colquhoun.
The Deputy Designated Safeguarding Leads are Zee Dinally and David Ault.
Epic Tales will ensure that the DSL and Deputy DSLs have the appropriate status and authority to carry out the duties of such a post, giving them the time, funding, training, resources, and support to provide advice and support to vulnerable individuals, other Epic Tales team-members, and those who work with Epic Tales in any capacity where safeguarding vulnerable individuals is a priority.
Epic Tales team-members are required to report safeguarding concerns to the DSL or a DDSL immediately, after which the DSL or DDSL may require the team-member to write up an account of the circumstances around the concern. In the case of urgent concerns, an account will always be required.
Epic Tales will aim to ensure that the DSL or a DDSL is always available to discuss any urgent safeguarding concerns, and that all team-members are clear upon the course of action they must take if the DSL and DDSL are not available. In the unlikely event that the DSL and all DDSLs are unavailable to discuss such an urgent concern, team-members will be advised to find information on who to contact locally in the area of the concern by using the NHS England Safeguarding website or app.
Epic Tales will ensure every team-member knows:
- the name of the Designated Safeguarding Lead/Deputies and their role;
- how to identify the signs of abuse and neglect;
- that vulnerable individuals may not feel ready or know how to tell someone that they are being abused, exploited, or neglected, and/or they may not recognise their experiences as harmful;
- how to pass on and record concerns about a vulnerable individual;
- that they have an individual responsibility to be alert to the signs and indicators of abuse and exploitation, and for referring safeguarding concerns to the DSL/DDSL;
- what is meant by, and the importance of, showing ‘professional curiosity’;
- that they have a responsibility to provide a safe environment for vulnerable individuals;
- their role in the early help process; and
- the process for reporting issues.
Due to the urgency of some safeguarding issues, all Epic Tales team-members are required to retain their mobile phones with them throughout their activities. Those who do not own mobile phones are required to identify the quickest methods of contacting DSLs, DDSLs, and/or emergency services as soon as possible after arriving at the site for their activity.
Epic Tales recognises that any vulnerable individual may be subject to abuse, and that mental health problems can, in some cases, be an indicator that a vulnerable individual has suffered or is at risk of suffering abuse, neglect, or exploitation, and as such will support all vulnerable individuals by:
- providing performances and workshops which encourage self-esteem and self-motivation;
- creating an ethos that actively promotes a positive, supportive, and safe environment, and values the whole community;
- working with the organisations or individuals engaging services from Epic Tales to agree on a consistent approach to behaviour management, which focuses on the behaviour of individuals but does not damage their sense of self-worth;
- liaising with mental health professionals where safeguarding concerns are linked to mental health;
- liaising with other agencies where possible and necessary, such as Social Care, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, and Emotional Health and Wellbeing Services; and
- promoting supportive engagement with parents and/or carers in safeguarding, and promoting the welfare of vulnerable individuals, including where families may be facing challenging circumstances.
Epic Tales recognises that whilst any vulnerable individual may benefit from early help, team-members are encouraged to consider the wider environmental factors present in a vulnerable individual’s life which could pose a threat to their welfare or safety (contextual safeguarding). Team-members are required to be particularly alert to the potential need for early help for children in particular circumstances, including but not limited to:
- those with disabilities, certain health conditions, additional needs, or special educational needs;
- young carers;
- those at risk of criminal exploitation;
- children at risk of child sexual exploitation;
- children frequently absent from education;
- those misusing drugs or alcohol;
- children living with substance misusing parents/carers;
- those living with domestic abuse;
- those at risk of ‘honour- based’ abuse including female genital mutilation;
- children who have returned home to their family from care;
- those showing signs of abuse and/or neglect;
- those at risk of radicalisation;
- privately fostered children; and
- those who have family members in prison.
4 PREVENTING UNSUITABLE PEOPLE WORKING WITH VULNERABLE INDIVIDUALS
Epic Tales operates safer recruitment practices, including ensuring all who work on behalf of Epic Tales have undergone appropriate DBS and reference checks. Epic Tales management will ensure that at least one of the persons who conducts an interview of a potential new team-member has completed safer recruitment training.
In line with Keeping Children Safe in Education paragraph 302, Epic Tales team-members will not carry a DBS certificate with them. DBS certificates are…
- out-of-date the moment they’re produced;
- easy to fake;
- easily misused if lost or stolen, as they contain no photo ID; and
- not required by OFSTED.
However, all those who work on behalf of Epic Tales will be encouraged to sign up for the Enhanced DBS Update Service if they have not already done so, which provides instant access to the latest information on the DBS records. Epic Tales will supply any organisation that has engaged Epic Tales to provide services with the details it needs to run a check on the Epic Tales team-members selected to deliver those services.
Any allegation of abuse made against Epic Tales team-members (including staff, freelancers, and volunteers) which meets the harm threshold will be investigated immediately to establish the facts and determine whether there is any foundation to the allegation, being careful not to jeopardise any future police investigation. The harm threshold is met where it is alleged that a team-member working or volunteering for Epic Tales has:
- behaved in a way that has or could have harmed a vulnerable individual;
- possibly committed a criminal offence against or related to a vulnerable individual;
- behaved towards a vulnerable individual in a way that indicates they may pose a risk of harm to vulnerable individuals; and/or
- behaved or may have behaved in a way that indicates they may not be suitable to work with vulnerable individuals.
If it is determined that there is foundation to the allegation, the incident will be reported straight away to the relevant Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) and, where necessary, the police, and the team-member will be instantly dismissed and barred from working or volunteering for Epic Tales and its affiliates.
If it cannot be determined that there is foundation to the allegation, Epic Tales will refer to the relevant LADO for advice.
If it is determined that there is no foundation to the allegation, or if the allegation does not meet the harm threshold, the allegation will be treated as a Low Level Concern. The relevant LADO may still be contacted for advice on actions to be taken, and the team-member may be subject to Epic Tales’ disciplinary procedure.
In all cases, a full report will be written and kept on file following all allegations.
Confidentiality and information sharing
Information about vulnerable individuals is defined as ‘special category data’, i.e. information that identifies a living individual. Collection, storage and sharing of personal data is governed by the UK General Data Protection Regulations (UK GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018.
Epic Tales will:
- ensure staff and volunteers adhere to confidentiality protocols and that information is shared appropriately;
- ensure staff are aware that they have a professional responsibility to share information with other agencies in order to safeguard vulnerable individuals;
- ensure that if an Epic Tales team-member receives a Subject Access Request (under the Data Protection Act 2018) they will refer the request to the DSL or a DDSL;
- ensure team-members are clear with vulnerable individuals that they cannot promise to keep secrets.
In cases where the harm threshold is met, Epic Tales must withhold providing data in compliance with its obligations under the Data Protection Act 2018 and the UK GDPR. In such instances, Epic Tales will seek independent legal advice.