‘Safe To Play’

Safeguarding campaign launched in Southend


Southend Safeguarding Partnership (Children’s) and ActiveSouthend (the Borough’s Sports Partnership) are committed to working together 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 have a right to have fun and enjoy taking part in activities without the risk of being harmed or abused.

Here in Southend, 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.

National Child Safeguarding Charity, NWG, has selected Southend-on-Sea as one of their pilot areas to deliver their ‘Safe To Play’ Campaign. 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 get parents, clubs and coaches themselves, to talk more openly about safeguarding. The innovative campaign uses augmented reality technology to help keep those involved in sport safe.  

The ‘Safe To Play’ campaign provides local sport and physical activity clubs and coaches with FREE pocket-sized cards to distribute to their members, players, parents and guardians. 

These cards, when scanned using a camera of a smartphone or tablet, will act as pocket reminders by providing a range of engaging digital resources, including dramatized videos featuring a sports coach, a father of a child who has been abused and the child himself, talking about their experiences, prompting the viewer to ask the right questions and learn from their experiences.

The digital resources also include 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 coach and/or club for your child or family member.

On Tuesday 13th July 2021, Southend officially launched the ‘Safe To Play’ campaign, with local clubs and physical activity partners registered with ActiveSouthed, taking part in online awareness sessions.


How to become a ‘Safe To Play’ partner in Southend-on-Sea.

We would like to thank all our clubs, coaches and physical activity providers for your ongoing support. ‘Safe to Play’ highlights the role everyone involved in sport can play in protecting our children and young people; raising awareness of safeguarding to ensure everyone taking part in sport and physical activity has a positive experience.  

Becoming a ‘Safe To Play’ partner is extremely important – it will now be a key requirement for Southend-on-Sea Brough Council, when selecting coaches, clubs and physical activity providers to work with, that they have attended a FREE ‘Safe To Play’ awareness session and become a ‘Safe To Play’ partner.  

Alternative ‘Safe To Play’ awareness sessions will be arranged for those clubs who were not able to participate during the sessions on the 13th July.

To register your club with ActiveSouthend and to receive the latest information, and to request ‘Safe To Play’ resources, please email getactive@southend.gov.uk


Is it ‘Safe To Play?’

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council’s Sport and Leisure Team would urge parents, carers and guardians, to look for a club, sport, activity and coach that takes the safety and wellbeing of your child seriously.

Summer can present opportunities for those not affiliated to any sport governing body or active partnership, to exploit the situation and set up activities in parks and green spaces which could initially appear to be legitimate holiday activities.

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.


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 Southend, then please raise these concerns immediately by reaching out to the Council’s Safeguarding Team using the various methods below:

Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub on 01702 215007 during working hours. 

Emergency Duty Team 0345 606 1212 out of hours.

If it is an emergency or someone is at immediate risk of harm, please call Essex Police without delay on 999.

You can also contact Southend-on-Sea Borough Council’s Sport and Leisure Team by telephoning the council’s main switch board on 01702 215000. Please ask to be connected to a member of the Sport and Leisure Team for safeguarding advice and support or email getactive@southend.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

Published: 13th July 2021