Safeguarding your child at camp

By James Snowden, Head of Camper Experience

At Over The Wall we recognise how difficult it can be for families when a child is suffering from a serious health challenge. Our priority is to allow children to be children again in a safe and medically sound environment, meaning that parents can concentrate on relaxing and spending time together away from the constant pressures of a caring role. Ensuring both the emotional and physical safety of your children while injecting some much-needed fun and freedom into their lives is exactly what we’re here for.

I understand that parents and guardians may be anxious at the thought of sending their child to camp by themselves, or may have questions around how we aim to prioritise their wellbeing and safety at camp – sometimes it’s their first time away from home and it’s only natural to worry about them. I hope I can help reassure those parents who are worried and encourage those who are hovering over the ‘Apply Now’ button to take the plunge and trust OTW with their precious cargo!

Over The Wall has always had a deep commitment to safeguarding, which forms a significant part of my day-to-day role. My current role as Head of Camper Experience is relatively new, and previously I was Camper Wellbeing Coordinator, so the ethos of camp is something that is very close to my heart. My responsibilities now include helping to ‘shape’ the camp experience, overseeing our amazing activities programme and of course, ensuring camper wellbeing and safeguarding are embedded into the camp experience.

OTW believes that the welfare of children and young people is paramount, and we are committed to work in a way that keeps child protection and safeguarding at the centre of our practices and procedures. We have a robust Safeguarding Children Policy in place to protect campers while at camp, which is regularly updated in line with national standards, guidance and good practice. This policy sets out our commitment to safeguarding all our children and young people, and includes a description ofour two adult policywhereby a camper should never be alone with a member of staff or volunteer. You can view all our policies here.

We also operate a Safer Recruitment Policy and will require DBS and PVG checks and other documents verifying identification from staff, volunteers and other personnel who apply to work or volunteer at camp. We have a proactive attitude toward safeguarding and actively recruit volunteers who have experience in safeguarding roles, such as being a Designated Safeguarding Lead, Child Protection Officer, Head of Year, Guidance Teacher, Police Officer, Social Worker or Healthcare Professional.

What this means in practice, is that we recruit an Independent Safeguarding Advisor (ISA), trained in safeguarding children, who is present at each OTW camp. The ISA works in conjunction with the Nursing and Wellbeing teams and they are primarily there to give impartial advice on safeguarding matters. The ISA meets with key staff after lunch each day to discuss any matters arising. In this way, we get a really holistic picture of the campers in our care – who’s enjoying themselves, who may be struggling to come out of their shell – and so on. We aim for a ratio of one volunteer to every one camper, meaning that campers are never far from a trained and friendly face.

Last year we were visited by independent consultants from International Camp Evaluation (ICE), part of SeriousFun’s evaluation committee, who said: “We were impressed with the addition of the emphasis on camper wellbeing and the professional staff team who is implementing the program of support for psychological, social and emotional needs and partnership with parents. This innovative, proactive approach is obvious from the point of recruitment through post-camp follow-up.” Obviously, as a team, we were incredibly pleased to receive this praise.

OTW has also been awarded ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted for four-years running with the 2018 report stating: “Risks are very well understood by staff and volunteers and they are able to recognise and respond well to any concerns. Immediate action is taken, and senior leaders work with all the necessary professionals if concerns arise. There is a consistent approach to ensuring that children are safe and feel safe and well cared for. Each [camp] has an independent safeguarding lead. These volunteers have a range of experiences and training in safeguarding. They are able to advise and direct staff and volunteers.” We are proud of our track record so far but will always strive to maintain the very best of standards and let you know what we’re doing to safeguard your children. If you would like any further information, do not hesitate to get in touch with me at james.snowden@otw.org.uk

Could you be a Safeguarding Advisor?

Every year we need over 700 Volunteers to help create an unforgettable Camp experience for young people with health challenges and their families.

If you join us as a Volunteer, you’ll be making new friends, developing new skills and make a real, positive impact on children’s lives and helping to rebuild their confidence.

Suitable for those who are trained and experienced in safeguarding children, the ISA role exists to provide independent safeguarding advice and guidance at camp. Our ISA is normally trained to Level 3 or equivalent in Safeguarding Children, and responding to safeguarding concerns will form part of their day-to-day role outside of camp. If you are a Designated Safeguarding Lead/Child Protection Officer, Head of Year/Guidance Teacher, Police Officer, Social Worker, Healthcare Professional – get in touch volunteering@otw.org.uk or 02392 477 110 or apply now.

Apply now