Safeguarding children and adults-at-risk
On the first page of CBM’s Safeguarding policy you can read, “CBM believes that every child and adult has the right to protection and to live in ‘safe environments’, regardless of gender, ethnicity, political association, religion, sexual orientation and whether or not they have a disability. It is CBM’s responsibility to make sure that all children and adults who come into contact with CBM’s development and humanitarian programming are safeguarded to the greatest extent possible.”
This statement really hits the core of what CBM are about. Not only are we committed to quality programmes that empower people with disabilities across all walks of life, we also think deeply about the risks inherent in this kind of work and ensuring that anyone and everyone involved with CBM is kept safe.
To launch our new Safeguarding Policy, CBM International brought together representatives from all over the world to Manila last month for a Safeguarding Learning Week. Along with myself from Ireland we had Safeguarding Focal Persons from Uganda, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, India, Togo, Ecuador, Bangladesh, Cote D’Ivoire, Nepal, Ethiopia, Kenya, Germany, Australia, Tanzania, Thailand and Madagascar. Quite the kaleidoscope of nationalities! What we all share, however, is a commitment to keeping people safe in all of our work.
One of the most significant additions to our new CBM Safeguarding Policy is the explicit inclusion of safeguarding Adults at Risk as well as children. During the week we discussed how to define an adult at risk (surprisingly, each of us had been an adult at risk at one point or another, usually as a hospital patient) and how their safeguarding differs from that of children.
Along with going over the basics of safeguarding (always important!) we explored some more nuanced issues, such as safeguarding in communications and in healthcare, how to assess safeguarding risks, inclusive feedback mechanisms and (very importantly) prevention of sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment.
As a representative from a donor country, I co-chaired a session on compliance with donor requirements on safeguarding – how to ensure that our programmes meet Irish Aid requirements and the high expectations of the public.
As a bonus, we also got to visit a fantastic CBM project in Manila city: Resources for the Blind, a project which provides braille and audio resources for students with visual impairments. It was a privilege to meet their committed staff, including many with visual impairments who themselves received support during their studied before going on to provide that same support to others. CBM is committed to safeguarding everyone we work with, and this continued training and knowledge sharing is a critical part of this. As CBM Ireland’s Safeguarding Focal Person (and Programmes Manager) it’s my responsibility, along with our partners and Country Offices, to ensure our programmes are uplifting, life-changing and above all - safe.