The Muslim Women's Network UK, which operates the MWN Helpline, has detailed Adult and Child Safeguarding Policies, which set out duties and responsibilities of staff, volunteers, trustees, partners and any other third party individuals or organisations we work with.  A summary of key points are provided below.

We are committed to protecting all children / young people (i.e. aged under 18) and vulnerable / at risk adults whether supported directly by us or indirectly through other adult service users. We not only take allegations of abuse and safeguarding concerns seriously but staff and volunteers are also trained to identify concerns.

Children (or young people) will be regarded as those who have not yet reached their 18th birthday. 

Vulnerable / at-risk adults  
A vulnerable or at risk adult may be someone who is:
  • frail due to age, ill health, physical disability or cognitive impairment, or a combination of these
  • has a learning disability
  • is vulnerable due to a physical disability and/or a sensory impairment. 
  • has mental health needs including dementia or a personality disorder 
  • has a long-term illness/condition
  • misuses substances or alcohol
  • is in extreme financial hardship and in a state of destitution
  • is at heightened risk due to cultural factors, such as shame and dishonour 
  • is at heightened risk due to previous history of abuse, exploitation or harm (such as having previously been taken and abandoned abroad by parents, or where a sibling has already been forced into a marriage)
  • is a carer such as a family member/friend who provides personal assistance and care to adults and is subject to abuse
  • is unable to demonstrate the capacity to make a decision and is in need of care and support

No-one will be treated less favourably for any reason -  All children have a right to equal protection from all types of harm and abuse, regardless of ethnicity (including race, colour and nationality),* religion or belief,* religious sect, age,* disability,* gender,* gender reassignment,* sexual orientation,* marriage and civil partnership,* pregnancy and maternity,* HIV/AIDS status, immigration status, refugee and asylum seekers, gender identity, and/or class;   

All personal information regarding children will be kept confidential, unless a breach becomes necessary e.g. risk of harm to child or adult or to others, a crime has been committed, legally required to do so.

Where there are concerns that a child is at risk, these will be logged on the relevant case notes on the MWN Helpline database and a safeguarding form will be completed. The following information will be recorded on the safeguarding form:
  • Nature of risk e.g. self-harm, honour based abuse, physical violence etc., 
  • Details of previous incidents such as dates, frequency etc.,
  • Information about the perpetrator (if applicable) 
  • Current safeguarding risk of harm level e.g. low, medium or high
  • Which external agencies need to be involved (including any previous involvement)
  • Follow up action required 
  • Any review dates which need to be adhered to

After completing the safeguarding form, the staff or volunteer will raise the safeguarding concerns with the Helpline Manager (or any other immediate line manager or responsible person, depending on the role and circumstances of the matter).  

Assessment of Risk
After safeguarding concerns have been raised with the Helpline Manager or any other manager, they will assist in carrying out a safeguarding assessment and re-assess the level of risk involved. 

Action to Reduce or Remove Risk
Once the level of risk has been established, appropriate information and advice will be provided on action required to reduce and/or remove the risk e.g. contacting police or social services, finding safe accommodation, making a referral to a Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference etc. Care will be taken however to ensure that any action taken does not inadvertently increase or escalate the risk of abuse.

Breaching Confidentiality
Where a manager has deemed that breach of confidentiality is necessary, the breach of confidentiality procedure must be followed.

Keeping Service User Up to Date
the MWNUK service user must be kept up to date in so far as is possible and all records and databases (as applicable) must be kept accurate and up to date. 

Reviewing Risk
The matter must be kept under regular review until such time as it can be deemed that the risk has been reduced to a level that can be deemed 'low', eliminated or the matter has been referred on to a third party individual or organisation that has taken ownership of the matter (such as the police or local authority).

Safeguarding Lead
Where the Helpline manager (or other manager) requires further advice, they may seek the opinion and advice of the Designated Safeguarding Protection Lead. The designated Safeguarding Protection Lead for MWNUK is Dr. Iram Sattar, who is an MWNUK trustee. The role of the designated officer is to deal with the most serious instances of child safeguarding concerns, and to provide appropriate advice to any queries raised by managers.

Types of Abuse
Although this is not an exhaustive list, abuse is when actions cause significant harm may include:
  • Physical abuse - physical violence including striking with or without an object, hitting, beating, slapping, pushing, shaking, kicking, pinching, burning, pulling hair, strangling, restraining etc. This may include female genital mutilation, honour based abuse and forced marriage.
  • Sexual abuse - forcing someone to participate in unwanted, unsafe or degrading sexual activity; this includes rape and sexual assault. This includes exploitation, grooming and online abuse.
  • Psychological abuse - This can be both verbal and non-verbal, that causes psychological trauma e.g. depression, anxiety, fear. This may be: shouting, swearing, name-calling, other forms of verbal abuse, blaming, threatening, mocking, isolating, ignoring, excluding, humiliating, emotional abuse, threats of harm or abandonment, controlling, intimidating, manipulating etc. Psychological abuse may also include lack of love, care and attention.
  • Financial abuse - This is control of economic resources which can include: taking money away (such as wages, benefits and savings), not giving access to money, preventing or making someone give up employment, not allowing necessities such as food, making someone beg for money, taking out loans in victim's name, spending or gambling money needed to maintain home, theft, fraud, exploitation, pressure in connection with wills, property or inheritance or financial transactions, or the misuse or misappropriation of property, possessions or benefits.
  • Coercive control - a pattern of intimidation, degradation, isolation and control with the use of threat of physical or sexual violence.
  • Harassment and stalking (including online bullying) - unwanted behaviour, which alarms or distresses another person such as malicious phone calls, threatening texts, threatening and insulting language and damage to property. Stalking is a form of harassment and includes following a person, monitoring or spying and forcing contact through various means including social media. The effect of such behaviour is to cause distress and curtail a victim's freedom.
  • Revenge porn  - sharing sexually explicit images or film publicly including online without the consent of the pictured individual with the intention to shame or embarrass or put them at risk of honour based abuse.
  • Spiritual abuse - means causing harm when trying to get rid of an evil force, spirit or 'jinns' that is believed to have possessed the victim. This can also include using religious texts or beliefs to minimise or rationalise abusive behaviours and control the victim. 
  • Neglect and acts of omission - This may include ignoring medical or physical care needs; failure to provide food, clothing, access to appropriate health, social care or educational services; the withholding of the necessities of life, such as medication, adequate nutrition and heating. 
  • Institutional abuse - Although not a separate category of abuse in itself, requires specific mention simply to highlight that children placed in any kind of care home or day care establishment (including schools and nurseries) are potentially vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. This can be especially so when care standards and practices fall below an acceptable level as detailed in the contract specification.
  • Discriminatory abuse -  This is abuse based on a person's disability, sex, age, sexuality, race, ethnicity, religion (including sect), culture, nationality, politics or other beliefs and may include: hate crime, bullying, slurs, other forms of harassment, slurs or similar treatment.

Domestic Abuse
We use the definition of domestic abuse as described in the government's Domestic Abuse bill: Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexual orientation. The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to: psychological, physical, sexual, economic and emotional forms of abuse. Controlling behaviour is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape, and regulating their everyday behaviour. Coercive behaviour is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten a person.

We also recognise that witnessing domestic abuse is in itself child abuse and for this reason the various types of domestic abuse are also relevant when considering the safety and welfare of children.

Recruitment of Staff and Volunteers
Recruitment procedures for staff, and volunteer are rigorous and carried out with a safeguarding centred approach e.g. suitability assessed to deal with children and vulnerable adults, Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks conducted and references obtained.

Training will be provided, to a level appropriate for each individual role, to ensure familiarity with child and adult safeguarding procedures, which will include both internal and external training. Refresher training will also be provided. 

Allegations Against Staff and Volunteers
All allegations of abuse or harm (or any other form of safeguarding concern) will be taken very seriously and handled in accordance with the relevant complaints procedure and a thorough investigation carried out internally. If necessary, the matter may also be reported externally e.g. to the police and Charity Commission.

This child and adult safeguarding policies will be kept under review and may change from time to time, in line with any changes in the law, child safeguarding policies and the needs of service users. 

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