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Sheffield Children Safeguarding Partnership

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Safe To Play

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Sheffield Safeguarding Children and Adult Partnership’s in collaboration with the national child safeguarding charity NWG is launching the Safe to Play Campaign, providing advice to parents and carers before they let their children attend any sports or other physical activity clubs.

Sport England have collaborated with the national charity the NWG Network and the Lawn Tennis Association to develop a new safeguarding in sport campaign utilising augmented reality technology to help deliver key messages to parents, sports coaches and children about how to keep safe in sport. This is part of the Sport England’s 10-year strategy with safeguarding children and adults at the heart of their plans.

We are working with all agencies to make sure that information, awareness and training opportunities are available for coaches, staff, club welfare officers and safeguarding leads and volunteers, to guide them into best practice when working with all children and young people in sport, physical and extra-curricular activities and settings.

Sport and physical activities often place individuals in a position of significant influence over other people. A high level of trust is placed on such individuals by parents, carers and the participants themselves. In most cases that level of trust is more than repaid through the commitment, dedication and selflessness of people involved in organising and delivering sports and activities, but occasionally that trust can be abused. All organisations and individuals involved in sport should be aware of the risks and act promptly to deal with any concern.

Every child and young person has a right to have fun and enjoy taking part in activities without the risk of being harmed or abused.

Here in Sheffield, we strive to make sure that every child has a positive experience when participating in sport, physical and extra-curricular activities.  Everyone has a role to play in keeping others safe and people should know how to spot the signs of child sexual exploitation and what to do if they have any concerns. Safeguarding must remain a priority for all those who run, book, manage and oversee sports and extra-curricular clubs and activities.

The innovative campaign uses augmented reality technology to help keep those involved in sport safe. Over the next year, we will be working with a range of partners, community organisations and key services to raise awareness of safeguarding in sport.

With funding from Sport England, NWG has created the ‘Safe To Play’ campaign to provide local sport and physical activity clubs and coaches with FREE pocket-sized cards to distribute to their members, players, parents and guardians –  https://stop-cse.org/tackling-cse-in-sports/

Safe To Play card

These cards, when scanned using a smartphone or tablet, will act as pocket reminders by calling up a range of engaging digital resources, including dramatised videos telling one family’s story of abuse in sport, video guides on how to identify the signs of abuse, top tips on how to stay safe in sport, and questions to ask when selecting a club or coach.

How you can help

It is vital we have the support of our partners, so please share this information with colleagues, family members and those organisations you work with so that we can promote the campaign as widely as possible and reach as many people as we can. If you work with or know a club, coach or physical activity provider who would be interested in becoming a Safe To Play partner, then please ask them to get in touch, details below.

Social media

Please also help by promoting the campaign on social media using the hash tags:

  • #safetoplay
  • #SaySomethingifyouSeeSomething
  • #SafeguardingsSheffield

Let’s not shy away from talking about something so important, everyone has a role to play in keeping others safe.

Be proud to stand up and speak loud about safeguarding in your sport and in your local club and together we can help prevent children and young people from being harmed or abused.

We would like to see ‘Safe To Play’ cards and resources featured in all our local sports clubs and coaches being proactive with parents, carers, children, young people and adults at risk to invite them to find out more about your own safeguarding arrangements and help them to download the videos from the card.

Sheffield Children Safeguarding Partnership and Sheffield Adult Safeguarding Partnership urge parents, carers and guardians, to look for a club, sport, activity and coach that takes the safety and wellbeing of your child seriously.

Always check whether the club or organisation is accredited or otherwise affiliated to a body (e.g. a sports governing body or national voluntary sector) as this should mean they have the right safeguarding policies and procedures in place.

Even if they are accredited, there are some key things to look for to ensure they take children's safety seriously. 

  • Review their website or the information you may have been sent. Do not be influenced by glossy flyers, smiley children in pictures and lots of quotes from ‘satisfied’ parents.
  • Look for safeguarding policies – these should be fully accessible, visible and readily available on their website. Hard copies should also be available on request. If they are not visible or available, then please think twice about sending your child into the care of someone who does not have safeguarding arrangements in place.
  • Where is the sport activity taking place? Is it COVID-19 secure? If it is in the grounds of a school or a leisure centre, then please ask the headteacher or centre manager about what due diligence has taken place to ensure the clubs providing activities have the correct safeguarding procedures in place.
  • A safe recruitment process for staff and volunteers, including vetting. This means that they have appropriate references, DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) checks – please ask about the last time these were renewed, we recommend every three years, and also ensure the staff have the right technical qualifications for the activity.
  • What safeguarding training have staff and volunteers received and can you see the evidence of when this training was delivered. What about new staff, as coaches do move around quite frequently
  • Check if they have a code of conduct/practice for sport coaches – this code provides a guide for good and safe coaching practice. A good code will be incorporated into the club and its policies, procedures, governance and training and will not be a stand-alone document
  • First Aid procedures – what happens if a child is taken ill? What are the club’s policies and how many people at the club have full first aid certificates?
  • Is there a designated welfare officer/safeguarding lead? – find out who the point of contact is that you or child can speak to if you have any concerns or worries
  • Parents/carers should speak with their child/children often to ensure they are happy and have no concerns. Maintaining an open dialogue with your child/children is very important.

Useful links

What to do if you have a concern

If you are worried about a child, have concerns about a club or coach and/or concerns about inappropriate behaviour by anyone involved in a sports club or physical activity setting in Sheffield, then please raise these concerns immediately by reaching out to the Council’s Safeguarding Teams using the various methods below:

  • Safeguarding Hub on 0114 273 4855 (24 hours) - Children
  • Sheffield’s First Contact team 0114 273 4908 - Adults
  • If you are concerned about an individual or see something suspicious contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or South Yorkshire Police on 101.
  • If you feel it is an emergency that requires immediate attention or someone is at immediate risk of harm, please call South Yorkshire Police without delay on 999.

Sheffield Children Safeguarding Partnership can be contacted at SCSPsafeguardinglicensing@sheffield.gov.uk

NWG – the National Safeguarding Charity can also be contacted for further advice and support on 01332 585 371, or by visiting www.nwgnetwork.org

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If you think a child is in immediate danger contact the police on 999.

Sheffield Social Care

If you are concerned about a child or young person, follow this link: Referring a safeguarding concern to Children’s Social Care


For support or if you're are concerned that a child has been sexually abused please contact the NSPCC 24 hour helpline.
Tel: 0808 800 5000
Email: help@nspcc.org.uk