01 April 2020
The top tips below encompass some of the measures that should be put in place.
Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve heard from across our membership how organisations have changed rapidly to meet the needs of young people. Youth workers have adapted services and activities for young people using the virtual world using social media, technology like Zoom, Google Hangouts and even those who have mastered TikTok and Instagram!
We all need to ensure that we continue to safeguard and can deliver services safely and protect young people and staff in this new way of working. London Youth wants to share a few bits of best practice to consider how you work with young people online safely and what steps you should be taking.
Five top tips
- Code of conduct – There should be a staff code of conduct that sets out clear boundaries working online and for communicating with young people remotely that takes into consideration hours of work, minimum staff ratio for group calls (minimum 2 for group calls), technology being used. It’s vitally important all staff protect themselves especially when delivering 1-2-1 work with young people (where it’s not possible to have a second member of staff on the call) and how to do this safely and reduce the risks.
- Be clear with young people – Discuss new ways of working and setting those boundaries. This could perhaps be for young people an online behaviour agreement that should be mentioned at the beginning of all online sessions, along with ground rules and clear procedures in place for staff to deal with bullying or negative behaviours.
- Online safety – Young people will be spending more time in front of screens so creating an information sheet for young people on safeguarding and staying safe online, written in an accessible way for young people, with useful websites for them to get more information.
- Ensure parents and guardians are informed – Create a cover letter/information sheet for parents and guardians with details on what the organisation has done to assess risk and safeguard their children and where they can get further advice from.
- Signposting and extra support – Updating your website and have a resource sheet to helpful websites and helplines for young people who might need to talk to professional counsellors or be signposted to other services.
If you need more safeguarding support, then speak to your local authority’s safeguarding team. For more information on using digital, visit Internet Watch Foundation and Safer Internet and NSPCC advice on online safety.
Fundamental to any organisation is ensuring that they have the right processes in place for safeguarding and ensuring all the risks have been identified and mitigated. We’d suggest spending some time to focus on your safeguarding policy and risk assessments to make sure you are best protecting your staff and young people while in your duty of care. Here’s some advice:
- Your safeguarding policy needs a section for online work and doing this safely with updated procedures, code of conduct and needing to be clear to staff undertaking this work with policies being put into practice around lone working, reporting concerns and safeguarding young people.
- Creating risk assessments with all relevant risks identified and control measures put in place to mitigate the risks. This will be a working document for all staff to adapt as you use digital platforms more and regularly updated as safeguarding needs change regularly. We have created a template based on using Zoom with young people that can be used and adapted to suit the needs of your service – Click here to download.
If you have any questions, get in touch with your Membership Development Officer in the Membership team who can provide signposting and support. We are also working closely with our safeguarding trainers to organising training over the next few weeks around safeguarding and online safety.
Stay well and safe,
Lee Ritchie, Marco Alidoro, Nicole Bristol-Robinson | Membership Development Officers