Safeguarding policy

The Royal Countryside Fund (RCF) is committed to the safeguarding of our staff, volunteers and any children, young people and vulnerable adults that RCF comes into contact with through our work. We believe that having a robust safeguarding policy that is fit for purpose will help us meet to our safeguarding responsibilities.

This policy does not cover sexual harassment in the workplace which is dealt with under RCF’s bullying and harassment policy.


The objectives of this Safeguarding Policy are to:

  • Provide staff and volunteers, as well as children and young people and their families, with the overarching principles that guide our approach to safeguarding
  • Outline how we protect vulnerable adults and children from harm that may be caused to them through engagement with RCF
  • Describe how RCF responds to safeguarding concerns
  • Outline our expectations of delivery partners and contractors to ensure that they have appropriate safeguarding policies and procedures in place

Who the policy applies to

This policy applies to anyone working on behalf of RCF and its subsidiaries, including staff, Trustees and Directors and volunteers, together with individuals and organisations who we engage to carry out activities on our behalf (associated personnel).

Legal Framework

The legislation and guidance relevant to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and adults at risk include the following: The Children and Social Work Act (2017), The Children Act 1989 and 2004, Working together to safeguard children (2015), No Secrets (2000), The Crime and Disorder Act (1998), The Health and Social Care Act (2008) and the Care Act (2014).

Key Principles

  • We will prioritise the safety and wellbeing of all children and vulnerable adults who come into contact with RCF
  • We will not tolerate abuse or exploitation by any of our staff or associated personnel
  • We will ensure that our workplaces are free from discrimination, bullying and harassment and that people are treated with fairness and respect
  • We will take reasonable and proportionate steps to check that our grant holders have adequate safeguarding policies and procedures in place
  • We will take all safeguarding allegations seriously and ensure they are properly investigated and dealt with effectively and promptly
  • We will ensure all safeguarding incidents and reports are addressed sensitively and confidentially


Safeguarding means protecting the health, wellbeing and human rights of children and adults and enabling them to live free from exploitation, harm, abuse and neglect.

A child is defined as anyone who has not reached their 18th birthday.

A vulnerable adult is defined as a person aged over 18 years who is or may be in need of care by reason or mental or other disability, age and illness; and who is or may be unable to take care of themselves, or unable to protect themselves against significant harm or exploitation.


The Trustees have overall responsibility for safeguarding. The Trustees have appointed the Executive Director as RCF’s Safeguarding Lead to oversee implementation of this policy and associated procedures on a day-to-day basis.

All staff and associated personnel are required to familiarise themselves with this policy.

Any staff member found in breach of this policy will be subject to disciplinary action.

Reporting safeguarding concerns

Any staff or associated personnel who have a safeguarding concern of any sort, whether in relation to a colleague, Trustee, volunteer, consultant, delivery partner or grant holder must follow the following procedures. If in doubt about whether a concern is a safeguarding issue, it should be reported even if the concern is based on rumour or an informal discussion.

 In all cases:

  • The overriding priority in any situation is the individual’s immediate safety. Stop other activity and focus on what you are being told or have just seen. Consideration must be given to removing the individual from any potential harm to a place where any physical/emotional needs can be cared for.
  • React calmly, listen and reassure the person. Take what is being said seriously.
  • Make and keep a record of all events (e.g. phone calls made, content of conversations, emails, etc.) as they take place. Record information on the name of the individual who has allegedly been abused, the name of the person making the complaint, who else is involved, when the alleged abuse or harm took place, where it took place and what the harm or abuse is. Repeat and check your understanding of the situation.
  • Inform the individual that you will pass the information onto RCF’s Safeguarding Lead. You can and should state that the matter will be dealt with quickly and appropriately. RCF’s Safeguarding Lead should be informed as soon as possible, and no later than 24 hours after the event.
  • Ensure confidentiality is maintained at all stages. Information should be shared on a need to know basis only and kept secure at all times.

The Safeguarding Lead, in consultation with expert advisors where required, will decide on the level of investigation and the investigation process.

Depending on the nature of the matter raised the police and any other relevant agencies may need to be notified. A serious incident report may, if necessary, be submitted to the Charity Commission.

If the person reporting the concern is not satisfied that RCF is appropriately addressing the report they should escalate the matter to the Chair of Trustees or to an external statutory body e.g. social services, the police.

Grant making

RCF will conduct reasonable and proportionate assessments of grant applicants’ approach to safeguarding. This will take several factors into account including:

  • Scope of the funding
  • Nature of the grant holder’s activities and the risk of abuse, neglect or exploitation of people that the grant holder may encounter in its work
  • Location of the work, with particular regard to any additional safeguarding risks that might be linked to that location

RCF will request information on grantee applicants’ policy/approach to safeguarding children and vulnerable adults as part of the grant application process. This will be reviewed considering the above factors to determine whether it is sufficient. The outcome of this will inform the grant decision making process.

For organisations who have been awarded a grant which in any way involves children or vulnerable adults, RCF’s award agreement sets out clearly our expectations of grant holders to manage that appropriately.

RCF’s award agreement also requires the grant holder to inform RCF if it makes a serious incident report to its charity regulator.

RCF’s monitoring of grants will incorporate a review of grantee safeguarding in a proportionate manner, in line with the factors set out above.

RCF encourages grant holders to discuss any safeguarding concerns promptly with us. RCF will acknowledge and respond to any safeguarding concerns raised by grant holders in an appropriate, timely and confidential manner.

Adopted on: 6 December 2023 
Next review: November 2025