Farewell From Ieuan Watkins, Our Safeguarding Adults in Sport Manager for Wales

Ieuan Watkins Safeguarding Adults in Sport Wales

Well, this is my last blog for the Ann Craft Trust as I am leaving the first week of January.

I have really mixed feelings as ACT is a wonderful organisation to work for. They’re making a real difference operationally and strategically, not just in safeguarding adults in sport, but also in many other areas of safeguarding. So I’m sad to go; but on a personal level I’m happy that I can take a change in direction.

Perhaps I can even spend a bit more time away from the laptop!

Changing Terminology

So I thought I would reflect on what we have achieved with Adults at Risk support for Welsh Sports in the last year. Well, the biggest, and most important win for me, is changing the terminology in ordinary language from ‘Vulnerable Adults’ to ‘Adults at Risk’.

The legislation changed here in 2014, and we should no longer be using the old terminology. It’s perceived by some as demeaning and restrictive. It’s important that we recognise that we all perhaps have vulnerabilities that could lead to us becoming an Adult at Risk (AAR). We have a duty of care to everyone within our organisations.

Safeguarding Training

To that end, I ran multiple training workshops across Wales. Whether operationally or strategically, I have found everyone receptive and enthusiastic. Everyone seems keen to develop understanding of what AAR means, and how we should recognise and support people.

I have lost count of how many times I have suggested that we ‘make safeguarding personal’. My oft repeated catchphrase is ‘Nothing About Me Without Me’. I really hope that this work has started to change the culture, the understanding, and the language we use.

As well as supporting six NGBs to create and implement AAR policies, we have two NGBs nearly there, with four others pending. There is still lots to do, but it’s a great start. In addition to the usual sports, we have also been able to support or link with:

  • Cartref Ni – Not for profit charity based in St Asaph working with adults with learning difficulties who live at home.
  • Ospreys Rugby – Extensive community-based foundation scheme.
  • Cardiff City Football Club Community Foundation – Community based foundation scheme.
  • Community Leisure UK – members’ association that specialises in charitable trusts delivering public leisure and culture services across the UK.
  • Swansea City Football Club.
  • WCVA (Wales Council for Voluntary Action) – supporting third sector and voluntary organisations.
  • Wrexham Football Club.
  • WSA (Welsh Sports Association) – Independent membership body supporting Welsh NGBs.

Case Management & The Welsh Sport Safeguarding Hub

Alongside the ‘policy stuff’, I have also been able to advise a number of sports colleagues across Wales on case management for AAR. It’s great that sports are starting to think about this. They’re recognising AAR issues and putting policy into practice.

The greatest win has to be The Welsh Sport Safeguarding Hub. This involves close working relationships between our NSPCC Child Protection in Sport Unit colleagues, Laura Whapham and Cerri Dando, and our approach with Statutory Agencies. We often hear talk about the lack of joint working and information sharing where there are overlapping adult/child protection matters.

This year we presented at a number of key statutory meetings, including regional Safeguarding Boards. Importantly, we also worked with MAPPA – the arrangements used to manage sexual and violent offenders.

We plan to send out Hub posters in the New Year. They are designed to signpost the police, the social services and others to sports through the ACT and CPSU. We hope this will make a real difference to protecting people in sport.

Thank You, and Farewell

I have learned so much over the last year. I hope that my experience and hard work has added value to Welsh Sport NGBs. Thank you to all of you for that support.

Finally, a genuine and heartfelt thank you to Laura and Cerri from the CPSU. We have shared phone, desk and working environment. You are truly professional and Welsh sport is very lucky to have you. I’d also like to thank all my colleagues at ACT, and to wish them all the best for the future.

Diolch yn fawr iawn.