Can Safeguarding in Sport be “Furloughed”?

Safeguarding Adults in Sport

Sporting activities are coming to a standstill and some organisations are facing huge losses in income as a result. It is possible that some people working in sport will be “furloughed”. 

“Furloughed” is a term used for workers who are laid off during the Corona Virus Emergency. Their employment rights are protected and they will receive 80% of their wages.

When organisations are making decisions as to who to furlough, they must consider all of a person’s duties. The organisation also needs to retain its ability to carry out basic functions.

So Can Organisations Furlough Safeguarding? 

I don’t think so!

It is self-evident that sports won’t have to be addressing new incidents of potential abuse or neglect arising in sporting activity. But at the moment there are other safeguarding risks.

Many athletes, volunteers and staff have underlying health care conditions which means they will be self-isolating for 12 weeks. Others have Coronavirus symptoms, or the illness itself.  Many of these people will be lonely. All these people are especially dependent on others at the moment. There is an army of volunteers starting to visit people who may have no other human contact. Volunteers may be their literal lifeline.

Exploiting a Crisis

The emergency is bringing out some of the best in communities and individuals. But unfortunately, some people are exploiting the situation. Anyone else had a text from the scammers telling them to click on a link to get a government handout of £400?

Some of the risks in the current situation are:

  • Using the internet to groom people for current or future abuse/exploitation.
  • Actively exploiting people online. For example, to extort money, or to ask for sexualised photographs.
  • People abusing their position as volunteers to groom and exploit isolated individuals.
  • Intensifying coercive control, domestic abuse, sexual and financial exploitation within their household and families.
  • People unable to meet or deliberately neglecting the needs of dependent adults in their household.

Does any of this have anything to do with safeguarding in sport? Well, yes.

What Can We Do?

There are plenty of great resources on how people can safeguard themselves during the emergency. You should look for ways to share this information with your clubs and members.

For example, we produced a short guide to keeping safe while in self-isolation. Find it here.

There is also good guidance for people experiencing domestic abuse. Access it here.

Other things to consider:

  • Have you identified anyone as a risk within your sport? They might be taking on roles where they could pose a risk in the wider community. They may be volunteering, or they may be making independent contact with club members offering support.
  • If you think there is anyone who might pose a risk to others at the current time, inform your safeguarding lead. Consider calling a virtual case management meeting to assess the risk. And if necessary, decide who should be alerted.
  • If you are in the position of making decisions about furloughing, please ensure that your organisation is still able to provide safeguarding information and advice to clubs and individuals.

At a minimum, please remember that anyone can contact the Ann Craft Trust or the NSPCC safeguarding in sports services for support and advice. We are working from home and keeping going!