Sheffield Insight Meditation Safeguarding Policy
Safeguarding in Our Context
This Safeguarding policy is a working document, reviewed annually and intended for use by individuals involved in Sheffield Insight Meditation in any capacity. This includes trustees, visiting teachers, peer facilitators, event organisers and any person attending our events. Safeguarding adults at risk means protecting their right to live in safety and free from abuse and neglect. It involves people and organisations working together; safeguarding is the responsibility of all of us.
Sheffield Insight Meditation provides opportunities to study and practice Buddhist teachings via a varied programme of events; in the main we offer participants the opportunity to meditate with others. Sometimes this is with a visiting, qualified teacher or ‘dharma leader’ and at other times alongside peers. Sheffield Insight is committed to promoting a safe and inclusive environment. The majority of our short courses and retreats involve pre-booking but we operate an ‘open door’ approach to our events. Individuals may well attend our events not having attended anything with us before. As a charity we do not hold events that are attended by young people under the age of 18.
This policy pertains to the trustees of Sheffield Insight Meditation legal duties towards safeguarding adults. An adult is someone who has passed their 18th Birthday.
This document has been compiled in accordance with the key legislation for safeguarding: The Care Act (2014) and The Mental Capacity Act (2005). It has also been written with reference to The Children Act (2004) and the wellbeing of children and protecting them from harm might be pertinent in the context of a concern in relation to an adult, particularly in cases of domestic abuse. Other forms of abuse will be referred to later in this document.
Sheffield Insight Meditation has a designated trustee for safeguarding. This trustee attends safeguarding training and is responsible for ensuring safeguarding is taken seriously, that the appropriate documentation is in place and that safeguarding remains on the agenda at trustee meetings. Our current designated trustee for safeguarding is: Sara Bartlett Brown.
In the light of a safeguarding concern, the designated trustee will consult with at least one other Trustee and agree any appropriate action. In any incident of reported abuse, the designated trustee for Safeguarding will ensure a record is kept for future reference. If the concern is related to the conduct of the safeguarding trustee, another of our Trustees can be contacted. Our trustee for safeguarding can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Principles of Safeguarding
There are six principles of adult safeguarding outlined in the Care Act (2014). These are:
Empowerment – People are supported and encouraged to make their own decisions and informed consent.
Prevention – It is better to take action before harm occurs.
Proportionality – The least intrusive response appropriate to the risk presented.
Protection – Support and representation for those in greatest need.
Partnership – Services offer local solutions through working closely with their communities. Communities have a part to play in preventing, detecting and reporting neglect and abuse).
Accountability – Accountability and transparency in delivering safeguarding.
More detailed information about the Care Act (2014)
Safeguarding and Buddhist Philosophy
Sheffield Insight’s responsibilities around safeguarding accord with the charity’s commitment to operating in the context of Buddhist ethical guidelines. The first ethical precept taught by the Buddha is to avoid harming living beings. In conjunction with meditation practice, our programme of events is concerned with enabling the development of the attitudes of Compassion, Loving Kindness, Equanimity and Empathic joy. The cultivation of these is regarded as an active means of mitigating harm and forms the bedrock of what we seek to do as a charity.
Buddhist Philosophy is concerned with human experience and in particular it is concerned with engaging with and responding to the universal experience of the suffering of all beings. As a charity we recognise that any one of us can be ‘vulnerable’ or at risk at any time in our lives. Buddhist Philosophy is also interested in impermanence and the ever-changing nature of human experience. We recognise therefore that vulnerability is not necessarily a permanent state.
Safeguarding Adults with additional needs
Whilst we acknowledge the suffering endured by all beings, as a charity we are very much aware that there are certain groups in our communities that may have additional needs and/or be more at risk and towards whom we have a particular duty of care. These are outlined in the Care Act (2014) as being:
• Adults with dementia
• Adults with physical or sensory difficulties
• Adults with a learning disability
• Adults that are dependent on others due to age or illness
• Adults that are homeless
• Adult refugees or asylum seekers
• Adults that have experienced domestic abuse
• Adults that are experiencing mental health issues
• Adults that are experiencing difficulties with drug, alcohol or substance abuse
• Adults that are experiencing bereavement, grief or loss.
Whilst we do not offer events specifically for the above groups, we understand that adults with these additional needs may attend our events and be part of our sangha (community). If we are alerted to an individual either experiencing or at risk of significant harm, we have a duty of care to do all that we can to mitigate this by reporting our concerns via the appropriate channels.
We do not have a responsibility to investigate situations ourselves and no one involved in the organisation in any capacity should set about to do so.
Further details about safeguarding in Sheffield can be found here: Sheffield Adult Safeguarding.
Abuse and Neglect
Abuse and neglect can take many forms and take place in varying circumstances. The main types and patterns of abuse highlighted in the Care Act (2014) are:
• Physical Abuse
• Domestic violence or abuse
• Sexual abuse
• Psychological abuse
• Financial or material abuse
• Modern slavery
• Discriminatory abuse
• Organisational or institutional abuse
• Neglect and acts of omission
Further information and indicators of the above
Spiritual Friendship and Teacher Ethics
People in positions of trust in our charity have a degree of power, whether they are aware of this or not. Professional boundaries are important. Our spiritual friendships can become intertwined with friendships and social contacts. Dharma leaders, teachers and peer facilitators should be aware of the dangers of dependency, recognise their own limits and not engage in ‘helping’ relationships that may be beyond their competence.
Sheffield Insight Meditation is affiliated with Gaia House. Gaia house is a large residential retreat centre in Devon, receiving charitable status in 1990. The charities’ teacher’s code of ethics outlines important points of consideration for teacher conduct and is a very useful document for safeguarding purposes. The majority of our teachers commit to the Teachers’ or the Community Dharma Leaders’ Code of Ethics’. Links to both of these can be found here:
Responding to disclosures
When deciding whether to refer the matter to others (Safeguarding officer of the Sheffield Insight Meditation, police or social services) consider the following:
• The wishes of the vulnerable adult and their right to self-determination
• The mental capacity of the vulnerable adult
• Known indicators of abuse
• Definitions of abuse
• Level of risk to the individual
• The seriousness of the abuse
• The effect of the abuse on the individual
• Level of risk to others
• The effect of the abuse on others
• Whether a criminal offence has been committed
• Whether other statutory obligations have been breached
• The need for others to know
• The ability of others (eg police, social services) to make a positive contribution to the situation
Where an adult at risk expresses a wish for concerns not to be pursued, this should be respected wherever possible. The starting point should be to support the adult to contact appropriate authorities, or to do so on their behalf with their consent. If the matter is serious and urgent, a serious crime has been or may be committed, or the person reasonably appears to lack the mental capacity to consent, Sheffield Insight Meditation may break confidentiality and raise the matter with the Sheffield Safeguarding Adults Partnership or other appropriate authorities.
Remember the Five R’s of Safeguarding