Introducing the Safeguarding Adults in Sport and Activity Participation Forum

Safeguarding Adults in Sport and Activity Participation Forum

Learn more about our participation work, and find out how your sport and activity groups can get involved.

By Kristina Thordal, ACT Associate Trainer.

Regular exercise can help us to feel good about ourselves. It can raise our self-confidence. It enables us to meet other people and make new friends. When we are feeling self-confident we are more likely to be able to look after ourselves.

Exercise can improve our sense of ‘wellbeing’ and we are more likely to feel safe and happy in the world.

However, to take part in sport and activity, we all need to be safe.

Safeguarding in Sport and Activity

ACT is funded by Sport England to include adult participation in our work on safeguarding adults in sport and activity. We are running workshops across England to meet with participants, as well as the workers and volunteers running sessions.

Our overall aim is to use information gathered from the workshops to inform future practice. This will help people create and maintain safe places where everyone can participate in sporting activities free from fear, harm or abuse.

We want to find out what people think needs to happen so everyone can feel safe from abuse. We want to know what’s working well, and whether there is anything that could be better.

Meet The Forum Members

  • Penny Roberts – Facilitator
  • Kristina Thordal – Facilitator
  • Dr Anne Patterson – Researcher
  • Charlotte Gilmartin – Athlete
  • Beth Moulam – Athlete
  • Nicola Dean – Safeguarding in Sports Manager (ACT)

The Forum sessions last approximately three hours with a 15 minute coffee break. The times vary dependent on what suits the participants. To date, we have delivered two sessions, one in Harrogate and one in Chesterfield.

The Programme

The programme is focussed on the questions as developed by the researcher. There are five sets of questions each with an overarching theme:

  • Developing a shared understanding of what safeguarding means in the context of participating in sporting activities.
  • Knowing what to do if someone has a concern or worry.
  • Preventing situations that place people at risk.
  • Making improvements to safeguard people taking part in training/activities/clubs.
  • Opportunity to explore anything our questions haven’t covered.

We look to create a friendly and informal learning environment. We provide refreshments, and every session involves an engaging 15 minute presentation from an experienced athlete.

Our First Meeting

Our first session took place in Harrogate, and included 12 participants.

Several people were unable to attend but requested an online questionnaire. Our researcher is currently developing suitable online materials, along with a paper-based questionnaire.

The overall feedback was good. Everyone attending appreciated having the opportunity to discuss safeguarding issues. Sports participants were eager to share their positive experiences of safeguarding in sports. They were also able to share their difficulties. All the sports participants had a learning disability.

The staff took the opportunity to share best practice in safeguarding. The discussion included what a comprehensive safeguarding policy should look like, and how they could learn from each other.

Our Second Meeting

Our second forum met at Chesterfield College. The group of 22 basketball players were primarily all people with learning disabilities.

The level of understanding was fairly broad, with some participants more eager to contribute than others. It was clear the group had a passion for their sport, and there were a few concerns around funding and dependency on carers/parents to have the commitment to transport to sessions.

During both sessions it appeared that some staff members were unclear about the infrastructure around the safeguarding agenda in Sports. There needs to be a more transparent structure regarding roles, responsibilities and using/creating safeguarding materials fit for purpose.

Staff realised the importance of all staff (including volunteers) to receive safeguarding training. For both groups, this doesn’t always happen.

Overall the groups were interactive, enthusiastic and eager to contribute.

The Future of the Forum

We’re developing an online questionnaire that will be available to all adult participants of sport and activity. We’ll let you know once it goes live.

We will be presenting our work at the Act Safeguarding Adults in Sport Seminar, 2nd July.

We need more groups to work with. This is your chance to ensure that the voice of participants is fully included.

So if you run a group with adult participants, or are from an Active Partnership or NGB, and would like to know more about running a participant workshop, please get in touch.

This is about hearing the views of any adult, from any background. If you provide the meeting space and participants, we’ll bring the facilitators and the refreshments!

Email Nicola Dean or call on 0115 951 5400.