Row of wooden figurines with one gold figurine on yellow background
Row of wooden figurines with one gold figurine on yellow background. Credit: unomat

Understanding the challenges that small organisations face in relation to safeguarding is the first step to finding solutions

Since the start of this year, Bond and its Safeguarding Steering Group (SSG) have been working with small organisations to hear about the challenges they face in relation to safeguarding to prevent sexual exploitation, abuse and violence.

Here’s what we’ve learnt so far and what we are doing to help small organisations get the resources and support that will make a difference.

Time and resources

  • Translating safeguarding training packages to support colleagues in low- and middle-income countries is expensive. The small INGOs we spoke with said it would be helpful if larger organisations that already have translated training resources could share them. This is a simple solution and something Bond is actively pursuing. If you have translated training resources to share, please get in touch at [email protected].
  • It’s not always easy to explain what safeguarding is to partners working in different contexts, although this is not an exclusive challenge to small organisations. This could be addressed by flipping the conversation on its head, starting with how organisations protect their communities then translating this into commonly used safeguarding terms.
  • Spaces where small organisations can learn from other organisations are missing. Safeguarding professionals from small organisations would welcome the opportunity to learn from their peers in larger organisations. If such spaces could be created, the potential for knowledge sharing could be huge.

Safeguarding the safeguarders

  • Staff working on emotive safeguarding cases need guidance and support, but a lack of resources means many small organisations cannot provide the help they need.
  • Small organisations often don’t have time to undertake learning reviews: once they have managed a case, they move straight onto the next one. It could be beneficial for professionals to conduct learning reviews on each case to understand what went well, what didn’t, and how those involved (staff and survivors) are doing now the case is closed.
  • It is important to ensure that organisations take a person-centred approach to safeguarding, not only for survivors but for staff members managing the case. This applies to organisations whatever their size.
  • Small organisations have a limited workforce, and there may not be enough colleagues to facilitate peer supervision. As one of the small organisations safeguarding practitioners commented: “Safeguarding professionals are expected to be the super-heroes of the organisation, looking after everyone else’s wellbeing, but who is looking after the safeguarding professional’s wellbeing?”

Join Bond’s safeguarding working group

Become a member of Bond’s safeguarding working group: an online space for members to share ideas, resources and good practice around safeguarding issues.

Join the group

Best practices

We asked small organisations to share their safeguarding achievements and best practices, and here’s what they told us.

  • Some organisations have sourced or created safeguarding tools that are being pitched at the right level and are being widely used by colleagues.
  • Often the leadership team within a small organisation is working well, its members understand safeguarding and are empowering colleagues to adopt safeguarding methods.
  • Organisations are getting better at flagging if certain things aren’t possible when it comes to safeguarding.
  • A conversation starter document has proven to be an effective way to support partners to become familiar with safeguarding concepts and practices.

Sessions to build safeguarding skills

To address the main challenges small organisations have identified, Bond and the SSG will deliver five, one-hour skills mapping sessions on the following themes:

  • Developing learning that works tailoring training that is the right fit for your organisation and the resources available.
  • Safeguarding practitioners’ emotional wellbeing.
  • How to convert what organisations are already doing on safeguarding into written compliance.
  • How to embed safeguarding culture within an organisation.
  • Being incident ready – what do you need?

These sessions will run throughout this year and next. Each will be hosted by a member of the SSG, supported by a subject matter expert. Bond members and small organisations outside the Bond network can join the sessions, and there will be space to learn and ask questions. The sessions will be advertised through the Bond Safeguarding Community groups and through our partners (the South West International Development Network, Small International Development Charities Network and Hub Cymru Africa). We are asking larger members to share the sessions with any partners they feel would benefit.