The Culture Change Champions Network – Working to Put Safeguarding First

The Culture Change Champions Network

The Culture Change Champions Network was formed in June 2021 at the start of the Safer Culture Safer Sport campaign. As we enter the second year of the group, I am sharing some of the discussions and the direction we are going in.

When The Ann Craft Trust launched the campaign, I was struck by a message that Bianca Logronio, Children & Young People Development Officer for the Active Partnership for Kent and Medway, posted on LinkedIn.

Bianca expressed her support for the campaign and was inspired by the opening podcast of the culture campaign:

People feel safe when they are with friends and family, because they know they can trust them if they need help. That is how we all want to feel when we are part of a sports organisation. To create a place where everyone feels safe means ‘we all become part of the organisation, as our full self’.

We want to give people and organisations the confidence to challenge – and confidence to change, knowing they’ll get support.

For me, I think the starting point for many organisations is having the confidence to ask: ‘Are we where we want to be when it comes to safe culture?’

I would love to see some resources developed which make it super easy for people to kickstart the conversation, whether they’re parents, coaches or committee members.

The Start of a Conversation

Bianca closed her comments with the words: ‘Happy to help, Nicola Dean’.

Little did Bianca know that her post would spark a discussion between myself and my colleague Ruth Ingram, who at the time was the Safeguarding Adults in Sport Manager for Wales.

We talked about how we could connect with the sport and activity sector on the campaign. We both have a background in community development and love group work. So we formed Culture Change Champions Group with Bianca’s vision at the heart of it.

The Group’s Purpose

The Culture Change Champion’s Group provides an opportunity to meet others who are making a commitment to culture change in their organisation. It’s also an opportunity to participate in discussions around an action-learning set model. This gives everyone the chance to bring issues and contribute to the discussion.


The group is open to individuals from sport and activity organisations who have signed up to The Ann Craft Trust Safer Culture Safer Sport campaign.

It is a space for people who fully endorse the concept of safer cultures in sport. We’re working with people who are are championing the work within their organisation and are willing to discuss, challenge and drive the campaign onward.

We currently have 11 members from across the sport and activity sector. The members represent Active Partnerships, National Governing Bodies, Disability Sports Organisations, and other sports organisations.

The Format

The group meets every six weeks via Microsoft Teams. We have a general discussion and catch up, before dividing into small groups to discuss a specific topic. We then return to share feedback.

All of our discussions are completely confidential. This means we can be open about our organisation knowing that other members will share the key themes without sharing confidential information.

One of the more popular discussions involved gauging the culture in our own organisations. It is a good exercise and one you can replicate in your organisation. Here are some ideas for how you can start such a discussion in your organisation.

Setting Personal and Group Goals

At the last two sessions, Bianca has presented slides from her workshop at  The 2022 Ann Craft Trust and CPSU Safeguarding Adults in Sport Conference. 

Bianca has explained behaviour change models. We have also worked on setting a goal individually and as a group using the SAFE model – Spark, Actions, Feelings, Effect.

The spark for the group goal has been the phrase ‘safeguarding first’.  When organisations say that they are putting ‘safeguarding first’ what does that look like in practice? Is there a way that we, as change champions, can put ‘safeguarding first’? Can we be the people to raise ‘safeguarding firs’t in discussions, funding arrangements, meetings, and conferences by asking:

What safeguarding considerations have you made?

From that came the action. Ask the question about safeguarding at every opportunity.

It may provoke a range of feelings in us and from people hearing the question. Some might feel uncomfortable, dismissive, nervous, unsure and defensive. Others might feel responsible, curious, brave, and open.

And the effect will hopefully be that, through modelling behaviour, safeguarding becomes more visible and embedded in everyday conversations. And that ultimately organisations can truly say that they are putting ‘Safeguarding First’.

Make Your Commitment to Working Towards Safer Cultures in Sport