Safeguarding & Ethical Guidelines

Safeguarding vulnerable adults and children at Newcastle Buddhist Centre

We have a newly revised safeguarding policy ( below) which  defines what we mean by harm or abuse, sets out our values, outlines the steps we have taken to maintain the centre as a safe and welcoming space, what to do if you suspect abuse or harm and what our safeguarding officers will do if abuse is reported. Our two volunteer safeguarding officers are Mary Lowe and Helen Clarke. If you have any questions, concerns or worries about potential harm done to yourself or another person whilst attending the centre please do not hesitate to contact Mary or Helen on our confidential email address:  safeguarding.nbc@protonmail.com

Alongside this policy, also set out below, we have our Ethical Guidelines policy, which applies to all those acting on behalf of the centre, in relation to everyone, whether classified as vulnerable or not.

Newcastle Buddhist Centre Safeguarding Adults and Children Policy

Introduction 

Triratna is a worldwide network of friends in the Buddhist life. This is for many of us a source of great richness, support and strength. However, it also carries a risk that we may fail to notice, question or act on behaviours of concern, out of naivety, loyalty to friends or lack of awareness; or an assumption that “it couldn’t happen here” or “they would never do a thing like that.” 

This policy is an expression of the first ethical precept taught by the Buddha: to avoid harming living beings. It refers to law and good practice mainly as defined in England and Wales. 

The purpose of this policy

This document is for Friends, Mitras and Order members involved in Newcastle Buddhist Centre activities (and those of any outreach groups run by this centre) as volunteers, leaders, teachers or parents.It is aimed at protecting both  adults at risk and children attending Newcastle Buddhist Centre activities, and Friends, Mitras and Order Members working with them. Most activities are attended by adults only but there are school visits to the centre and some outreach activities in schools.

Our over-arching purpose is to ensure that anyone attending Newcastle Buddhist Centre, or involved in any of its activities, is safe.

The policy sets out

  •  practices and procedures  contributing to the prevention of abuse  of adults at risk and children,
  •  a course of action to be followed if abuse is suspected. 

This policy is complemented by the Centre’s Ethical Guidelines (see below).

Our values 

Although we do not run activities specifically for those with mental illness or addiction, we recognise our responsibility to safeguard the welfare of everyone involved in Centre activities and commit to ensuring protection for those who are most vulnerable –   adults at risk and children.

We are committed to: 

  • recruiting volunteers safely, ensuring checks are made where necessary.  
  • sharing information about child protection and good practice with children, parents, and volunteers.  
  • sharing information about concerns with appropriate agencies and involving parents and children as appropriate.  
  • providing effective management for volunteers through supervision, support and training

Definitions

A child is a person aged under 16 years. 

An adult at risk is any person aged 16 or over who is, or may be, in need of community care services by reason of mental or other disability, age or illness, and who is, or may be, unable to take care of him/herself, or unable to protect him/herself against significant harm or exploitation. 

An adult at risk may be a person who: 

  •  Is old and frail
  •  Has a learning disability
  •  Has mental health problems
  •  Has drug, alcohol or substance dependency
  •  Has a physical or sensory disability
  •  Is physically frail or has chronic pain
  •  Exhibits challenging behaviour
  •  Has been bereaved, suffered grief and loss
  •  Lives with domestic abuse
  •  Is homeless
  •  Has social or emotional problems

Whether or not a person is “at risk” in these cases will vary according to circumstances, Each case must be judged on its own merits.

Abuse is the harming of a person usually by someone who is in a position of power, trust or authority over them, or who may be perceived by that person to be in a position of power, trust or authority over them. 

The harm may be physical, psychological or emotional, or it may exploit the vulnerability of the victim in more subtle ways. 

The World Health Organisation defines  “Child abuse” as ‘all forms of physical and/or emotional ill treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power.

Harm includes: 

  • Physical abuse,including slapping, hitting or pushing. 
  • Sexual abuse, including involving someone (or threatening to involve them) in inappropriate sexual activities, exposing them to pornographic material and sexual harassment. 
  • Emotional abuse, including, humiliation, threatening to harm, intimidation, coercion, bullying, harassment and exposure to violence (e.g. domestic violence).

What we do as an organisation 

Our Safeguarding Officers and have overall responsibility for the protection of adults at risk and children at Newcastle Buddhist Centre. They are responsible for supporting the dissemination and implementation of our protection policy and co-ordinating practices relating to it. The Safeguarding Officers are appointed by the Council of trustees, who will also appoint Safeguarding support officers to take action if any abuse is reported. The Council is responsible for providing training for all involved in safeguarding.

We minimise the risk of abuse occurring by ensuring that children are accompanied by a parent or responsible adult whenever possible:  For educational visits we require teachers to accompany children at all times.  For Families Group meetings we require parents to be present with their children at all times.  When a person under 16 wishes to attend an Introductory Course or Buddhist activities, we require them to bring along an accompanying adult. 

In order to publicise the safeguarding policy, we will ensure that summary information about safeguarding and contact details are displayed prominently in the centre and on the website.

We have 5 levels of safeguarding checking:

 DBS checked Safeguarding training Read & sign safeguarding policyCode of conduct Briefing
      
Working with children under the supervision  X  
Teaching adult classes at Centre X 
Supporting adult classes at Centre   X
Becoming a mitraXX
Safeguarding / support officerXXXX

Our policy specifically prohibits anyone from the centre working directly with children in an unsupervised capacity.

What we expect individual sangha members to do –

  • If working with a school or other children’s group, advise their staff that their teachers/leaders must be present at all times.  
  • If working with children of sangha members, ask that parents be present unless you have been DBS checked.  
  • Do not be alone with a child where other adults or children cannot see you.  
  • Treat all children, young people and vulnerable people with respect and dignity.  
  • Do not invade privacy when people are changing or using the toilet.  
  • Do not engage in intrusive touching and be aware that any physical contact can be misinterpreted.  
  • Do not tease or joke in ways that may be misunderstood and cause hurt.  
  • Do not share sleeping accommodation with children.  
  • Do not invite a child to your home on their own. 
  • Always invite a group and ensure a suitable adult is in the house. 
  • Make sure the parents know where the child is.  
  • Do not give lifts to children on their own and if you have to give a lone child a lift they must sit in the back of the car.  
  • If you concerned about anything, check with the people involved and, if you remain unhappy, contact the Safeguarding Officer. 

If you become aware of abuse 

All reports or suspicions about abuse must be treated seriously and reported to either Newcastle Buddhist Centre’s Safeguarding officer via our secure safeguarding email address: safeguarding.nbc@protonmail.com

Please act if :  

  • you see something that could be abusive  
  • you are told something by someone else  
  • you hear rumours about a person’s behaviour  
  • you see an adult at risk or child acting in a way that causes you concern 
  • An adult at risk or child discloses something to you
  • If you have a concern.

If an adult at risk or child reports abuse to you, please do

  • stay calm and listen patiently 
  • reassure the person they are doing the right thing by telling you  
  • accept what they say without judgement  
  • clarify issues of confidentiality early on
  • Make it clear that you will have to pass on their concerns to the Safeguarding Officer to keep them safe.

 Do not 

  • appear shocked, horrified, disgusted or angry  
  • ask leading questions  
  • press the individual for more details they are ready to tell you  
  • suggest they are wrong or mistaken  
  • make comments or judgments other than to show concern  
  • promise to keep secrets 
  • tell anyone other than the Safeguarding Officer what has happened  
  • confront the abuser.

What to do next 

  1. Ensure the safety of the individual concerned. 
  2. Tell Newcastle Buddhist Centre’s Safeguarding officer named above or, in their absence, the Chair. 
  3. Write a factual account, both as accurate and verbatim as possible, of what you have seen and heard immediately; date and sign this and pass it to the Safeguarding Officer or, in their absence, to the Chair. 
  4. Do not be tempted to investigate yourself and don’t discuss the matter with anyone else. (This could prejudice a court case and put the child in danger.)

What the Safeguarding Officer will do if abuse is reported 

For a Child, the Safeguarding Officer will decide on appropriate action which may include:  contacting Social Services (Child Protection Officer) who will discuss what to do next including notifying the police, school and parents 

For an adult at risk the Safeguarding Officer will consider the same courses of action as for children. Where an adult at risk expresses a wish for concerns not to be pursued, this should be respected wherever possible. Their consent to refer the matter to others must be obtained except where:  

  • they lack the mental capacity to make a decision, and a risk assessment indicates that referral would be in their best interests  
  • others may be at risk  
  • a crime has been committed. 

In any incident of reported abuse, the Safeguarding Officer will ensure a record is kept for future reference.

This policy will be reviewed annually by the Safeguarding Officer and Council. 

 Last approved/reviewed on 21 July 2020. 

Newcastle Buddhist Centre Ethical Guidelines

These guidelines follow the framework of the Buddha’s five ethical precepts, which are widely known throughout the Buddhist world. They offer a general principle for each and one or two specific applications.
The precepts can be applied to all areas of human behaviour. 

These guidelines are mainly intended to offer guidance in one key area where Order members, or other experienced members of the Triratna community, are presenting and communicating Buddhist principles to those who are new or less experienced, especially in public situations, where a particular duty of care is owed. 

The guidelines should be read in conjunction with the centre’s ‘Safeguarding Adults and Children Policy.’

First precept
I undertake to abstain from harming living beings.
With deeds of loving-kindness, I purify my body.

In all our dealings with one another we aspire to be kind.
Individuals in positions of trust and authority as members of Newcastle Buddhist Centre do not misuse their trusted position or authority for their own benefit or to influence others inappropriately.


Wishing to minimise the harm we do to living beings, we affirm that physical violence and verbal abuse have no place among us.


We will endeavour to work within our community to reduce and minimise any harmful impact on the environment, locally and internationally.

We will provide only vegetarian food at the centre and encourage veganism.

Second precept
I undertake to abstain from taking the not-given.
With open-handed generosity, I purify my body.

Newcastle Buddhist Centre runs on generosity. Teachers and class teams offer their time, skills and experience voluntarily. We are keen to develop this culture of generosity (‘dana’), so many of our events are offered free of charge, but with an invitation to attendees to give what they can.


This culture of generosity extends to all levels of the centre. At present, it is entirely run by donations and with time and energy voluntarily given.

Therefore generosity is the principal motivation for a deepening commitment, rather than status or the accumulation of wealth. 


Those who handle money or property for the centre or any centre enterprise will take care of them and avoid their deliberate misuse or misappropriation. If misuse is suspected, we will investigate and take action immediately.

Third precept
I undertake to abstain from sexual misconduct.
With stillness, simplicity and contentment, I purify my body.

Newcastle Buddhist Centre (which is part of the wider Triratna Buddhist Community) is a community of people practising the Buddha’s teachings together. While members of the Triratna Buddhist Order do not regard themselves as laypeople, the Order is not an exclusively monastic one either. As such it is natural that close relationships should develop between us, and that some of these may be sexual relationships.


We encourage all members of our community to conduct their sexual relationships ethically, with awareness and kindness. People in teaching roles or similar have a particular responsibility in this area, especially with regard to those new to the LBC. We propose that they do not start a relationship while they are the other person’s main connection with Buddhism and Triratna, even when there is clear mutual attraction and they both wish to enter into a relationship. Rather, we would ask them to wait until the less experienced person has established other effective friendships within our community.


We suggest that any proposed relationship between an Order Member in a teaching role and a less experienced person is discussed openly in an Order context. Usually this will mean in their chapter and/or with their preceptor and kalyana mitras.

Fourth precept
I undertake to abstain from false speech.
With truthful communication, I purify my speech.

At ordination, members of the Triratna Buddhist Order undertake ten training precepts, of which four concern ethical communication. In all our dealings we are committed to truthful, kindly, helpful and harmonious communication, written or spoken.

We wish to create an atmosphere of friendliness, co-operation and trust. 

We will share information carefully, motivated by a desire for the wellbeing and spiritual progress of those we discuss.

We encourage ethical reflection and disclosure in our community, but are careful to emphasise that this happens in its own time and at its own pace. We note that confession may offer no protection from the law. Illegal activity disclosed in the context of confession may have to be reported to the relevant authorities.

Fifth precept
I undertake to abstain from intoxication.
With mindfulness clear and radiant, I purify my mind.

The Triratna Buddhist Community aims to provide support for the development of wisdom and compassion through deepening awareness.

We aspire to engage with our practice and with each other with as much mindfulness as possible. We will not serve alcohol or other intoxicants at any Newcastle Buddhist Centre activities.

Reporting Concerns

If you have any concerns about the ethical behaviour of Sangha members or a person you believe to be at risk, please contact our Safeguarding officer on our secure email address: safeguarding.nbc@protonmail.com

Though we will take your concerns seriously, we cannot offer absolute confidentiality. In accordance with the requirements of Safeguarding and data protection law, we keep secure, confidential Safeguarding records and will share information only with those few who need to know in order to address the matter effectively and keep you and others safe from harm.  Where you are over 18 and we believe you or anyone else over 18 may be at risk, we have a duty to report to social services or the police, with your/their consent if possible. Where you are under 18 and we believe you or anyone else under 18 may be at risk, we have a duty to report, with or without consent. 

Agreed by the trustees of Newcastle Buddhist Centre 21st July 2020. 
Review date: 21st July 2022

Sabbe satta sukhi hontu May all beings be well and happy.