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Safeguarding and welfare for adults policy

A. Introduction and purpose

Safeguarding means protecting people's health, wellbeing and human rights, and enabling them to live free from harm, abuse and neglect. At Scottish Book Trust we understand this to mean protecting people, including children and at-risk adults, from harm that may arise from coming into contact with our staff or our programmes, either face to face or online.

This policy applies to all Scottish Book Trust staff and the Board of Trustees, as well as to contractors, consultants, freelancers, creative practitioners, student placements, interns or anyone else working on behalf of Scottish Book Trust.

This policy is concerned with our commitment and approaches to safeguarding adults at risk of harm. For information on our approach to safeguarding for Children and Young People please see our parallel Scottish Book Trust Child and Young Person Protection Policy.

Adult at risk is defined in the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Act 2007 as anyone over 16 who:

An adult is at risk for the purposes above if:

This policy recognises that young people aged between 16 and 18 years can be considered both adults and children. For those under 18 we will apply the child protection policy.

Scottish Book Trust is committed to safeguarding the wellbeing of everyone the charity interacts with and as such our approach can be summarised under three headings:

This policy will be reviewed on an annual basis.

B. Roles and Responsibilities

1. Setting policy

Scottish Book Trust's Board of Trustees and the Chief Executive are responsible for ensuring an appropriate adult safeguarding policy is in place and staff are trained in the use of the policy. The policy is regularly reviewed annually by the Designated Adult Safeguarding Officer to ensure it is up to date and compliant with current legislation and best practice.

2. Accountability and responsibility for this policy

Accountability for this policy rests with the Director of Operations and Finance but all employees, partners and volunteers have a duty to know what action to take if they are concerned that a participant, or colleague, is at risk.

Individual teams will have specific policies and procedures around their own areas of work and the Adult Safeguarding Officer should be involved in the development and review of such policies. These include, but are not exclusive to:

Heads of Team have a responsibility to ensure that any new activity developed for participants/audiences is appropriate and acceptable. Each team will appoint a safeguarding representative who will attend regular safeguarding and welfare meetings with the Adult Safeguarding Officer to raise any issues their teams may encounter and feedback any safeguarding or welfare practice or issues to the teams. Safeguarding will be a standing item on management meetings to ensure that new projects are discussed and any arising measures/project parameters are agreed before the activity is carried out.

3. Lead Officers

Scottish Book Trust has a Designated Adult Safeguarding Officer, and a deputy, to whom staff can refer any concerns or issues regarding adult safeguarding or discuss and seek guidance on adult safeguarding more generally. The contact details are as follows:

Designated Adult Safeguarding Officer

Philippa Cochrane, Head of Reading Communities

philippa.cochrane@scottishbooktrust.com(this link will open in a new window)

Telephone: 0131 524 0160

Deputy Designated Adult Safeguarding Officer

Katherine Wilkinson, Head of Research and Evaluation

katherine.wilkinson@scottishbooktrust.com(this link will open in a new window)

Telephone: 0131 524 0160

C. Context

The activities carried out by Scottish Book Trust means that a range of employees, freelancers and supported partners may come into contact with adults who are at risk of harm.

Much of Scottish Book Trust's work with adults involves supporting participants to share personal stories. Our programmes seek to ensure that people from all walks of life and with a diverse spectrum of lived experience have the opportunity to share their stories, to ensure that those stories find an audience of readers and are valued by those who read them. People who are engaging with the creative processes of reading and writing can often find emotions are triggered or emotional states created where they will open up and may share information with their peers, our staff or our freelance practitioners. Whilst such sharing or triggering might not be anything to worry about or cause concern, this aspect of our work can bring specific safeguarding challenges around:

We recognise that we have responsibilities to ensure the welfare of people in three areas:

1. Safeguarding for adults at risk engaging with our programmes

Adults at risk may participate in our programmes by engaging with our content, attending events, taking part in workshops and activities and by sharing their own creative work, including sharing personal stories. In all instances our programmes must:

2. Ensuring the welfare of people employed by us – staff, freelancers, creative practitioners, student placements, interns and volunteers

Because some of our work is focussed on supporting people to share personal stories that matter to them, employees and freelancers can experience increased mental health and wellbeing impacts. Scottish Book Trust has a responsibility to ensure that employees and freelancers are:

3. Partnership working

How we support best safeguarding practice with organisations with whom we co-deliver programmes and opportunities. Scottish Book Trust engages in two distinct kinds of partnership working:

D. Policy Statement

Scottish Book Trust's adult safeguarding and welfare policy document is based on the following principles:

Scottish Book Trust will:

  1. Value, respect and listen to people participating in our programmes
  2. Appoint an Adult Safeguarding Officer and a Deputy Adult Safeguarding Officer, to uphold this policy and to give staff and freelance staff the appropriate support to be able to put it into practice
  3. Maintain an open and supportive organisational culture where staff can discuss any concerns or issues around adult safeguarding with their colleagues, manager or the Adult Safeguarding Officer and Deputy Adult Safeguarding Officer
  4. Take seriously any concerns over an adult at risk's safety or welfare and take appropriate action as soon as possible
  5. Adopt adult safeguarding best practice through our policies, procedures and code of conduct for staff and freelancers
  6. Develop and implement an effective digital adult safeguarding policy and related procedures
  7. Provide effective management and support of staff and freelancers through appropriate training, support and quality assurance measures
  8. Ensure safeguarding is a core part of all project inception meetings and ongoing project meetings
  9. Ensure that all freelancers and partners working with Scottish Book Trust are issued with this policy in advance of work beginning
  10. Assess each programme to determine whether basic or enhanced PVG is required for those delivering and obtain the requisite PVG accordingly
  11. Recruit staff and freelancers safely, ensuring all necessary checks are carried out
  12. Record and store personal information securely – according to GDPR standards
  13. Use our adult safeguarding procedures to share concerns and relevant information with any agencies who need to know, and involving adults at risk, and, as they wish and with their consent, those in their support network which could be family, carers or friends.
  14. Use our adult safeguarding procedures to appropriately manage any allegations against staff or freelancers
  15. Create and maintain an anti-bullying environment
  16. Ensure we have effective complaints and whistleblowing measures in place
  17. Ensure we provide a safe physical environment for participants, staff and freelancers, by applying health and safety measures and risk assessments in accordance with the law and regulatory guidance
  18. Provide a Scottish Book Trust contact whenever activities are taking place, including out of office hours, to provide advice and support on safeguarding issues. To be agreed at the start of any project.
  19. Use risk assessments to ensure that where potential risk to an individual is identified, appropriate measures are put in place to mitigate such a risk
  20. Agree with partners how to manage safeguarding jointly during the project. This may include:

E. Disclosures of harm

Recognising abuse and harm

The following summary outlines the keys areas of abuse and harm that adults at risk may be subject to.

  1. Physical abuse is deliberately hurting a person causing injuries such as bruises, broken bones, burns or cuts.
  2. Neglect is the ongoing failure to provide the amount and type of care that a reasonable person may be expected to provide. It can be the intentional or unintentional failure to provide medical, social or educational needs. It is withholding necessities such as food, drink, warmth and a lack of protection from hazards.
  3. Sexual abuse is when a person is forced or persuaded to take part in sexual activities. This doesn't have to be physical contact and it can happen online.
  4. Psychological or emotional harm is the ongoing emotional maltreatment of a person. It can involve deliberately trying to scare or humiliate a person or isolating, controlling, harassing, intimidating, coercing or ignoring them. It can happen online and includes cyber bullying.
  5. Financial harm is when someone prevents a person from having control over their own finances in order to exert control over that person. Financial harm can involve the theft of money or material belongings, the fraudulent use of money or belongings, coercion and undue influence to relinquish money or property; it can also involve the improper use of a legal authority, such as a Power of Attorney.
  6. Self harm is when a person is neglecting to care for their personal hygiene, health or surroundings. It might include hoarding.

Who can be abusers?


Where can abuse happen?

Anywhere, including online.

You can find more detail on the types and indicators of abuse.(this link will open in a new window)

F. Noting and sharing a concern

Given the nature of our work, it is unlikely that staff or freelance practitioners will encounter an abuse situation or disclosure. However, should this happen, it is important to take it seriously and act as soon as possible.

It can be very hard for an adult at risk to speak out about abuse. Often they fear there may be negative consequences if they tell anyone what's happening or has happened to them. It is vital therefore that whoever they tell takes them seriously and acts on what they've been told.

Even if an adult at risk doesn't tell someone verbally about what's happened to them, there may be other indicators that something is wrong. These could include subdued or changed behaviour, uncharacteristic failure to engage in social interaction, unkempt appearance, frequent injuries, bruising, signs of malnutrition.


In the course of our work, it is important to maintain an open and supportive culture around safeguarding adults at risk with Scottish Book Trust staff, our partners and the communities we work with. Therefore, we should communicate any concerns about a adult at risk as soon as we become aware of it.

The majority of Scottish Book Trust's work with adults at risk happens in partner and community settings such as libraries, partner run activity spaces and community centres, where participants are in groups and accompanied by partner staff and carers, as well as our staff. Staff members are therefore not alone with adults at risk or in sole charge; partners staff are usually supporting the groups and the adults at risk.

In these circumstances, protocols around safeguarding will have been agreed as part of the project inception. If a staff member has a concern that vulnerable person is at risk of harm of experiencing abuse, they should follow that agreement, which should at least require that they should speak to the named safeguarding contact within the partner organisation. This safeguarding contact may well be aware of the situation and be able to reassure the staff member that the issue is being dealt with or agree that they will make a note of the concern and refer it through the usual channels of reporting. The issue should still be treated confidentially and noted by the staff member for reporting on their return to the office, to their line manager and the Designated Adult Safeguarding Officer. All concerns should be reported and Scottish Book Trust will record who was informed at a partner organisation and what steps were agreed, including if the decision was made that no further action was needed. If staff need adult safeguarding advice whilst they are away from the office, they should contact their line manager, the Designated Adult Safeguarding Officer or Deputy Designated Adult Safeguarding Officer by phone.

You can request a form for recording a concern by emailing us at info@scottishbooktrust.com(this link will open in a new window).

Risk assessment

Whenever designing a new project, or delivering a new series of workshops or new events, whether to be delivered in person or online, Scottish Book Trust staff must complete a Safeguarding Risk Assessment form and have it signed off by one of the safeguarding team (Head of Operations and Finance, Adult Safeguarding Officer, Deputy Adult Safeguarding Officer).

Where working to deliver a sustained project with freelancers and/or partner organisations, the risk assessment form should be completed together as part of the project inception meetings. Where freelancers are being asked to deliver one off workshops, Scottish Book Trust staff should complete the risk assessment form for the project as a whole.

If you are a partner or affiliate please contact your Scottish Book Trust representative if you need these forms.

One-to-one working

Due to the nature of our programmes for adults, and the preferences of participants there are situations where a Scottish Book Trust staff member or freelance practitioner may be working one-to-one with a member of the public or an adult at risk. This should be identified through the risk assessment process at the start of any project.

NB – no Scottish Book Trust staff member or freelance practitioner should be alone with an adult at risk unless with the prior consent of the adult you are working with, provided they are considered to have the capacity to make that decision for themselves. Where an adult is considered not to have that capacity, similar permission needs to be sought from an appropriate adult and/or the person who makes decisions on their behalf and the need for one-to-one working should be assessed with the Designated Adult Safeguarding Officer and/or a line manager and deemed to be essential to their participation in the programme prior to the permission being sought.

Dealing with disclosure

It is more likely that staff or freelance practitioners may have stories shared with them that contain information about historic instances of harm or abuse. These may be shared directly in a workshop setting or they may be submitted remotely via the Scottish Book Trust website. In these circumstances it is important to ensure that the individual sharing that story is informed about their options for sharing that story, how it may be used and who will be able to find and read it and it is imperative to make sure that they know their piece will not be shared anywhere without their express permission.

If an adult at risk makes a disclosure of abuse or harm to you:

Recording incidents

Any adult safeguarding concern should be recorded by the staff member as soon as possible following the awareness or disclosure. In the first instance, this can be in the form of a confidential written note which can then be used to write up a fuller formal report where necessary.

The following key information should be noted:

Please email us at info@scottishbooktrust.com(this link will open in a new window) to request appropriate forms to record a disclosure.

The Designated Adult Safeguarding Officer/Deputy Designated Adult Safeguarding Officer or line manager will review this, confirm any further action required and make a note of it. If the situation merits, this information can also be passed on to the lead safeguarding contact for any partner organisation or any other agency which becomes involved.

However, if the situation is urgent and the adult's safety is in immediate danger, the staff member should call the local authority Social Services duty officer, the police or the emergency services, whichever is appropriate to the nature of the risk.

Read more on adult support and protection on the Act Against Harm website.(this link will open in a new window)

Find your local contact for reporting urgent incidents.(this link will open in a new window)

The information should be stored securely, in accordance with our Data Protection Policy, and signed off by the staff member as an accurate record.

If merited, the incident will also be reported to the Board under the Significant Incident Reporting system.


Notwithstanding the need to report concerns as soon as possible to the relevant named/responsible adult and/or the staff member's line manager/Designated Adult Safeguarding Officer, it is important that in the course of reporting such concerns, confidentiality is managed internally and we should not involve other staff unnecessarily. Any decision to share information related to these concerns beyond the responsible adult/named person should be taken in consultation with the line manager or Designated Adult Safeguarding Officer, unless the situation is urgent, is an emergency or a person is at risk of serious harm, in which case other agencies should be alerted as appropriate.

Concerns about staff or freelancers

If staff have concerns about the behaviour of/need to pass on allegations about another member of staff or a freelancer working on our behalf, they should speak to the Designated Adult Safeguarding Officer/Deputy Designated Adult Safeguarding Officer.

If staff have concerns about the behaviour of the Designated Adult Safeguarding Officer or Deputy Designated Adult Safeguarding Officer, they should speak to a member of the Senior Management Team.

E. Further support

F. Risk assessment and general good practice

When planning and carrying out our work involving adults, and particularly adults at risk, the following general rules should help to provide a supportive and safe environment for staff and participating adults:

  1. Share safeguarding policies and identify any situations where those policies may differ – agree the importance of monitoring safeguarding to our standards
  2. Establish which organisation is the safeguarding lead (if you are working with an organisation that works with the participant's regularly and therefore has built a higher level of trust and expertise it is most appropriate that they should be the safeguarding lead)
  3. Establish whether at any point any staff member or freelancer will need to have one-to-one contact with an adult at risk. This should only be the case if no model of team delivery will ensure that the adult at risk will have an accessible, positive and meaningful experience of taking part in the programme. In circumstances where one-to-one working is required, agree who will need PVG scheme membership
  4. Conduct a shared risk assessment of the activity
  5. Agree who has what safeguarding responsibilities
  6. Agree any required protocols around safeguarding for shared working – including regular safeguarding meetings, how to progress any report of disclosure, delivery parameters in terms of number of staff/freelancers in place for each engagement, how to set a safe space for each engagement, how to debrief, if necessary, following each engagement.

Event and activity planning

Staff should use one of the available templates, as appropriate to the programme/event being planned.

Please email us at info@scottishbooktrust.com(this link will open in a new window) to request appropriate forms.

G. Recruitment and Disclosure Scotland

An important element of Scottish Book Trust's Adult Safeguarding and Welfare Policy is to recruit appropriately trained and experienced staff into post. All staff who, through their work with Scottish Book Trust, have access to adults at risk in any form (e.g. face to face, telephone, online, through our programme submissions) must have basic clearance from Disclosure Scotland.

PVG scheme membership is required for staff or freelancers delivering our programmes who will have or could have one-to-one unsupervised contact with adults at risk.This clearance is obtained as part of the recruitment and appointment process and is renewed every three years for continuing staff. In addition, the appraisal process checks annually whether there is any change to the nature of a staff member's role which requires a new disclosure or a higher level of disclosure i.e. membership of the PVG scheme.

The HR and Operations Team is responsible for ensuring the appropriate disclosure checks/memberships are made prior to appointment and reviewed at the three year anniversary.

Line managers are responsible for checking annually during the appraisal process that the Disclosure level is appropriate and in place before signing off the appraisal.

H. Allegations of abuse made against Scottish Book Trust employees and freelancers

Where a Scottish Book Trust employee or freelancer is alleged to have abused someone, the following procedures must be followed.

The employee or freelancer's supervisor must discuss the allegation with the Safeguarding officers and the Director of Operations and Finance and, where relevant, the appropriate partner organisation and on the safeguarding team's recommendation agree:

  1. Whether the allegation needs to be reported to the police
  2. Whether the employee or freelancer is able to continue in their normal duties or whether adjustments should be made to their work to protect them and/or others

Adjustments may include:

Making an adjustment to a role does not in any way imply guilt. It is purely an action designed to allow an investigation to be carried out as quickly as possible while minimising risk.

All employees and freelancers who are alleged to have abused someone will be offered appropriate support until any investigation, internal and/or external is concluded.

All allegations will be looked into and as a minimum will involve an initial process to establish the facts and whether a formal investigation is warranted. The statutory authorities have thresholds which must be met before an alleged offence will be investigated by them and therefore not all allegations will be forwarded to the relevant authority for investigation. In all cases however, the safeguarding team will be involved from the outset.

Following on from any external involvement, a formal internal process will be carried out under the disciplinary policy for employees and the code of conduct for freelancers.

The Director of Operations and Finance will advise on this process and on an appropriate person to carry it out

I. Training

Line managers and Heads of Team must ensure that all staff who work with or come into contact with Adults at risk of harm as part of their role at Scottish Book Trust have attended the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) online safeguarding training.

Scottish Book Trust nominates a Designated Adult Safeguarding Officer who is required to complete the SCIE online safeguarding training or refresher course prior to appointment to this role. Refresher training should be undertaken where changes to legislation occur but at least every three years. The Deputy must also complete the SCIE online safeguarding training.

The Designated Adult Safeguarding Officer/Deputy Designated Adult Safeguarding Officer will hold workshops or one-to-one sessions as required to ensure new staff, or staff new to a post, where working with adults at risk is a significant part of their role are confident they understand the Safeguarding and Welfare for Adults Policy and know how to implement it.

The Designated Adult Safeguarding Officer and Deputy Designated Adult Safeguarding Officer will monitor through newsletters and other networking channels any changes to legislation and best practice and ensure the Safeguarding and Welfare for Adults Policy is kept up-to-date. Changes to the Safeguarding and Welfare for Adults Policy will be flagged to staff and relevant training given if the changes are significant.

Appendix 1

This policy has been drawn up on the basis of legislation, policy and guidance that seeks to protect adults as risk of harm in Scotland:

Other Scottish Book Trust policies and procedures connected to adult safeguarding are: