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Safeguarding in Practice

Access practical tools, resources and training to help you in your own organisation

1. Safeguarding Leads/Focal Points

Many organisations designate the responsibility for aspects of safeguarding in their organisation. This is very helpful for ensuring that there is focused attention on safeguarding. However, this role can vary considerably depending on the size, staffing and type of organisation. In larger organisations this might be full time staff member(s) but is often additional responsibility on top of an existing role or in very small organisations can be a responsibility allocated  to a trustee or volunteer.

This section brings together resources to support Safeguarding Leads/Focal Points in an organisation to clarify their role and expectations where needed, and also general practical tools for operationalising safeguarding.

2. Policies and Procedures

Having clear policies and procedures in place is essential for ensuring that all people involved in your organisation have a shared understanding of what you mean by safeguarding, what their responsibilities are, and what to expect and do in the event of any incidents. Policies are not to be seen only as documents to be written, signed off and forgotten. Policies should be meaningful, appropriate to the organisation and based on organisational values, principles and purpose. These should be developed collaboratively and reviewed and revised regularly with all people they concern. Safeguarding policies should be practical, realistic, and communicated simply to ensure that everyone is aware of and understands their contents.

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  • Safeguarding Policy Templates: by Bond. A suite of core policies that can be adapted or used as they are to strengthen your safeguarding framework.
  • Developing Child Safeguarding Policy and Procedures: a Facilitator’s Guide: by Keeping Children Safe. This guide is to help people work through the process with their team, to audit their current measures and develop and strengthen child safeguarding policies and procedures.
  • Keeping Children Safe Online: A Guide for Organisations: by Keeping Children Safe. This guide is aimed at international NGOs who want to use social media in their work with children and young people, but contains practical guidance, tools and templates which can be applicable to all organisations using social media. 
  • NSPCC Writing Safeguarding Policies & Procedures: These straight forward tips help guide organisations through writing safeguarding or child protection policy statements and procedures.
  • Child Safeguarding Policy (video): an animation of their policy, by Save the Children Indonesia, as an alternative way of communicating what is often a complex written document.
  • Code of Conduct (video):from The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, this video highlights the principles behind what is often simply referred to as “the Code of Conduct” in the humanitarian sector, to which all NGOs working in disaster relief and humanitarian work can sign up.


  • Check SIDA’s Events & Training page to see if we have any of our ‘Developing Your Safeguarding Policy’ or ‘Reviewing your Safeguarding Policy’ webinars or workshops coming up soon.

Examples of Policies

Large Organisations

Small/Medium Sized Organisations

  • Gaia Education is a medium sized international (Scotland based) organisation focusing on sustainable development. They have a medium-sized board of trustees, several staff members (UK based and in-country), and 142 partner organisations around the world. They have a comprehensive set of policies available online.
  • Link Education International is a medium-sized organisation operating in sub-Saharan Africa, focused on raising standards of teaching and learning in schools. They have a large board and several members of staff based in the UK and overseas. They have a comprehensive policy & code of conduct available online that covers all their activities and beyond. 

Legislative Context

Safeguarding policies and procedures must be grounded in the legislation and policy framework of the country an organisation is registered or based in. See our list of relevant legislation for Scotland and the UK on our ‘UK Context and Beyond page’.

Complementary Policies

Code of Conduct

A code of conduct can be contractually binding and linked to the employment or volunteer contract. It sets out the behaviour expected of the employee/volunteer/trustee/contractor. They are often embedded within the safeguarding policy and can be called ‘code of conduct’, ‘core values’, or another term that illustrates how the organisation expects those affiliated with it to behave.  Below are some example codes of conduct. 

  1. Save the Children’s code of conduct can be found online. 
  2. Gaia Education’s ‘Core Values’ policy can be found online. 

Anti-Bullying and Harassment

Safeguarding encompasses more than child and vulnerable adult protection – bullying or harassment at work can constitute a safeguarding incident. Safe organisations should have robust anti-bullying and harassment policies in place that provide clear reporting and resolution processes.  

  1. Gaia Education’s Anti-Harassment Policy (pdf) can be found online.


Safe organisations should have a whistleblowing policy that enables employees/staff/beneficiaries to raise concerns about the organisation, or, individuals within the organisation. These policies are not lengthy, but they must provide clear reporting processes. 

  1. Gaia Education‘s Whistleblowing Policy is available online. 
  2. Scotland’s International Development Alliance’s Whistleblowing Policy

3. Safer Programming

Safeguarding should be an integral element to all stages of projects and programmes, being actively included in planning, activities, monitoring, evaluation, learning and reporting, as well as budgeting & training. The following resources can help you in planning a safe approach throughout. 

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  • RSH – How to Design and Deliver Safe Programmes (pdf). This how-to note which details what safe programming is, what needs to be in place to support safe programming, the importance of community engagement for safe programming and how to integrate safeguarding throughout the programme cycle. This is a generic version that will be adapted for different contexts and translated in due course. The infographics accompanying this note are available here in colour, black and white, and mobile versions.
  • Keeping Children Safe’s Self Assessment: This online (and downloadable) self-assessment tool specifically designed for those working with children in international settings, enables organisations to get a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of their safeguarding implementation. It takes about 30 minutes.

Due Diligence

Due diligence on in-country partners is a requirement for Scottish grant holdersFCDO and other funders as well as being good practice and a part of partnership development. The term due diligence means carrying out checks on and with your current and potential in-country partner(s) to make sure they have the robust policies and procedures in place to safeguard against risk.

Risk assessments and due diligence approaches can be used with current partnerships in order to open dialogue and facilitate conversations around good safeguarding practices. 

Institutional Guidance

Examples of Due Diligence and Compliance Forms/Templates

Further Resources

The former Department for International Development (DFID – now the FCDO)’s Safeguarding Unit released a Sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment (SEAH) Infrastructure Tool (pdf). It is designed for FCDO advisers, programme managers and senior responsible officers working in the infrastructure sector, which has been assessed as a high-risk environment for incidents of sexual exploitation and abuse.

Legislative Context

Safeguarding policies and procedures must be grounded in the legislation and policy framework of the country an organisation is registered or based in. See our list of relevant legislation for Scotland and the UK on our ‘UK Context and Beyond page’.

4. Survivor-centred Approach

A survivor-centered approach is one which seeks to empower the survivor by putting their rights, needs and wishes first before all actions. Although this may sound obvious, these needs of an individual can easily be forgotten once aspects such as the potential for further conflict and / or reputational damage arise in the light of safeguarding allegations. Survivor centred policies, procedures, and the development of a survivor centred culture are therefore imperative.

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Further Resources

  • To Complain or Not to Complain: Still the Question (pdf): by the Human Accountability Partnership. This report follows a consultation with people in receipt of humanitarian aid, into efforts to prevent and respond to sexual exploitation and abuse. See especially pages 9-10 on how to support survivors.

5. Awareness Raising

Embedding a safeguarding culture which expects people to treat each other with respect, raise concerns, report incidents and make changes for the better can only take place if it is widely understood, and expectations are clear. People at all levels of involvement with an organisation need to be clear and aware about what constitutes abuse and harm; what their rights are; how to make complaints and what will happen when complaints and incidents are reported. Ensuring that these issues are communicated clearly and in context to each individual however can be challenging. 

Our Top Three Recommendations


  • See the videos in our Safeguarding Basics section, in particular No Excuse for Abuse by Interaction: a 6 minute film available in different languages designed to be used to explain the concept of safeguarding to communities. Can be used in conjunction with the Community Visualisation Toolkit mentioned below (has the same visuals).
  • Understanding Child Safeguarding: A Facilitator’s Guide: this guide by Keeping Children Safe is designed to help you plan and facilitate workshops for staff and associates who have little understanding of what is meant by “child abuse” and what their responsibilities are to safeguard children.
  • How to Communicate Safeguarding and PSEA Messages to Communities during Covid-19: this guide by Keeping Children Safe responds to the fact that during emergency situations, it is likely that harm, exploitation, neglect, and abuse will increase. It contains useful guidance on communicating safeguarding with communities even outwith emergency situations. Available in several languages. 
  • Community Visualisation Toolkit developed by Rooftop design agency in collaboration with Habitat for Humanity International, Oxfam International, and WaterAid, this toolkit is adaptable and designed to assist humanitarian and development agencies to communicate key safeguarding messages to the communities in which they and their partners work. Helping to break down barriers of language, literacy, and accessibility, users can adapt elements such as text, clothing, backgrounds etc to suit their own context.
  • Course Materials for Preventing Sexual Exploitation and Abuse: This was developed by Interaction to provide NGOs with simple to use training modules which focus on PSEA basics, Reporting Systems, and Community Based Complaints, and can be adaptable to different locations and audiences (i.e. use with staff, senior management, community members). Includes full session plans, handouts & facilitators guide. 

6. Safer Recruitment

Several initiatives have been launched since 2018 to improve vetting and recruitment systems, with the aim of reducing the risk of employing perpetrators of sexual exploitation and abuse in the international development and humanitarian aid sector. Initiating such measures on a global scale is however a significant challenge, especially as they involve cross-border interpretations of issues such as employment law and privacy law, as well as relying on a mass global sign-up. 

Our Top Three Recommendations

Vetting schemes

  • The Misconduct Disclosure scheme  (M&D scheme): Run by the Steering Committee for Humanitarian Response, this was launched in January 2019 to improve reference checking systems to disclose past incidents of sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment. Participating organisations sign up to the scheme to share information on misconduct going back 5 years, so the more organisations sign up, the more effective the scheme will be. Whilst there is no fee, small organisations will need to consider carefully as to whether they can meet the commitments required (see page 4 of the How to Implement Guide (pdf)
  • The Proposed Aid Worker Registration/Passport Scheme: since 2019, a multi-agency steering group from across the sector has been working on this scheme which intends to provide accurate work history linked to personal identity, for all aid workers globally. It will then be used alongside the M&D scheme. Currently still under development, the legal review was published in June 2020.
  • Disclosure Scotland & the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) SchemeDisclosure Scotland is the government agency managing and delivering the PVG membership scheme (equivalent to DBS checks in England and Wales), which “helps ensure people whose behaviour makes them unsuitable to work with children and protected adults cannot do ‘regulated work’ ‘ with these vulnerable groups”. Recent changes now mean that employers can apply to have an individual who is going to work overseas PVG-checked, if that work, if done in Scotland, would be considered to be ‘regulated work’. Find out what is covered by PVG.


  • Case Study: Using the Misconduct Disclosure Scheme (pdf): This study by Bond looks at Oxfam’s experience of using the Misconduct Disclosure Scheme.
  • Webinar: Robust or risky Recruitment (youtube video) by the Safeguarding Resource & Support Hub. With a focus on the need for collaboration and the Misconduct Disclosure scheme, speakers discuss practical steps that can be made to strengthen recruitment measures for safeguarding in the aid sector, and the challenges and risks involved in doing so.
  • OSCRs Guidance for Trustees on Safe Recruitment (scroll down on page): this section of OSCR’s guidance summarises Scottish organisations’ responsibilities regarding safe recruitment, for those employed to work in Scotland and overseas.
  • Volunteer Scotland’s Disclosure Services provides advice, guidance and checks for eligible volunteers who are working in Scotland.
  • Safer Recruitment: by NSPCC: Whilst aimed at those recruited to work in the UK, this includes some useful tips that can be used in any setting.
  • Safer Recruitment through Better Recruitment: by the National Care Inspectorate. Again, aimed at those recruiting for work in Scotland, this can be used to find certain useful guidance on recruiting in particular for working in the care sector. 

7. Reporting

Clear and robust reporting and investigation procedures, which are fully understood by all representatives of an organisation are essential to ensuring good safeguarding standards both in terms of mitigation as well as response.

Our Top Three Recommendations


8. Leadership & Culture

Organisational culture is often referred to as ‘the way we do things around here’. Evidence shows that workplaces which lack a healthy safeguarding culture can be warning signs of incidents going unreported – people must feel comfortable raising concerns and complaints, and witness the behaviour of leaders setting positive examples. Changing culture takes time, and needs leaders at  all levels who are willing to instigate organisational and personal changes. 

Scotland’s International Development Alliance has worked closely with Bond on the development of its Tool for Leaders: Developing and Modelling a Tools for Positive Safeguarding Culture. This is a discussion-based tool to support leaders of organisations to understand what a positive safeguarding culture looks like & identify what changes they can make. 

In recognition of its particular membership base, the Alliance helped to develop in particular a version for smaller organisations. Follow the links to ‘get started’ to find both versions for larger and smaller organisations. 

Tool for Leaders: Developing and Modelling a Tools for Positive Safeguarding Culture

Further Resources

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