We all have a duty to ensure that, in encouraging children and vulnerable adults to participate in sport, we do our utmost to ensure that they are safe. At the WSA, we believe that this duty of care should take absolute precedence above any other priorities in the development of sport and active recreation.
Therefore, when it was announced in March 2016 that the Welsh Council for Voluntary Action was to close its free Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) for volunteers in the third sector due to cuts in Welsh Government funding, putting 5,000 annual volunteer checks for sport at risk, it was clearly time for us to step in and take action.
While this has been our biggest challenge, it is also our biggest success to date. Not only by successfully campaigning on behalf of our members to continue to protect children and vulnerable adults in sport, but also by providing a practical, cost-effective solution for volunteers within sport and beyond.
Despite the short notice and stretched budgets, through our advocacy work we secured a 6-month extension to the service, whilst continuing to campaign for a U-turn on policy.
With no credible, cost-effective alternative in the market place, we took the opportunity to create our own DBS Checking Service which could be delivered across the third sector, gathering intelligence from our members in respect of what they wanted the service to look like and what they were prepared to pay.
We ensured a new service was created and launched seamlessly against the previous system, and transitional support from Sport Wales ensured free checks for sport continued until 1st April 2017.
The WSA solution provides excellent standards of service using modern, easy-to-use technology, helping to keep costs low and support levels high via phone and email helplines. Regular reviews with the support of members ensure the system remains fit for purpose, and we will continue to work very closely with the NSPCC’s Child Protection in Sport Unit to ensure that safeguarding remains at the forefront of policy development.
For further advice and guidance on safeguarding the following links:
NSPCC Child Protection in Sport
Sport Wales Coaching Policy
UK Government Safeguarding Policy
Duty of Care in Sport – Independent Report to UK Government (Tanni Grey Thompson report)