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Safeguarding Young People and Vulnerable Adults




  The Long Distance Walkers Association (LDWA) is a national organisation that exists to further the interests of people who enjoy long distance walking. It is constituted as a company limited by guarantee, and members of the national committee are directors of the company. The national committee are nominated and elected annually by the Association’s members. There are no salaried employees.
  Whilst membership of the LDWA is of the national Association, the LDWA operates principally through some 40 semi-autonomous Local Groups, each of which has its own organising committee of volunteers governed by a local constitution. Local Groups organise programmes of social walks, challenge events, and social events.

Why have a Policy?

  Governing bodies and other national sporting organisations have a duty of care to ensure the safety of young people and vulnerable adults participating in their activities.
  The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 places specific legal duties on organisations whose staff or volunteers work 'frequently' or 'intensively' with children and vulnerable adults.
  The LDWA values and encourages the involvement of all walkers in its activities, including young people or those who may have recognised vulnerabilities. Through this Policy the LDWA is committed to promoting their enjoyment of long distance walking and safeguarding their health, safety and general welfare while in the company or care of LDWA volunteers or members.



  In this document, where reference is made to either ‘children’, ‘young people’ or 'vulnerable adults’ all three are usually intended unless otherwise indicated. Collectively, they may be referred to as ‘vulnerable groups’.
  In law a child is any person under the age of 18. However, older children, for example teenagers, may prefer to be called young people.
  A vulnerable adult is a person aged 18 years or over with special needs (due to mental or other disability, age or illness) who may or may not need extra support and consideration because of this.
  It is recognised that people with special needs are able to cope in many situations, so sensitivity and common sense must be exercised.

Challenge Event

  A Challenge Event is a cross-country walk of a significant distance that is undertaken by many participants at the same time, but without a leader. The challenge is a personal one - the event is not a race, but the aim is to complete the prescribed route within the time allowed. Challenge events vary enormously in style and character, but all will include at least one option over 20miles. Whilst most challenge events are one-day events, those of longer distances (50miles or more) will involve most participants in some night walking and navigation. Completion of an event of 50miles or longer provides qualification for the annual 100mile challenge event, for which the time limit is 48 hours.

Social Walk

  A Social Walk is a group walk led by a member of the LDWA on a voluntary basis. Social Walks are usually around 20 miles in length and include a lunch stop (picnic, or pub stop usually) and other refreshment breaks. The pace is generally ‘conversational’, but may be faster than new walkers are accustomed to. The walk leader is responsible for route finding, and managing the group of walkers.
  The LDWA endorse the Ramblers’ Association Guide for Walks Leaders, which provides useful tips for walks leaders to help ensure walks progress smoothly.
  Whilst most walkers on Social Walks will be LDWA members, the Local Group programmes of Social Walks are published on this website and non-members are welcome to join any walk, either as a one-off or as a prospective member.
  By joining a social walk, there is implied agreement that walkers accept the route, duration, walking pace and timing the leader has decided on for the day and will not deliberately cause the leader reason to be concerned or disrupt the pace of the group. However, for the avoidance of doubt, a walk leader should ensure that new walkers are fully aware of the programme for the day before setting out.

Social Events

  Local Groups may organise social events for their members. These are usually publicised to members of the Group only, and are not usually for non-members unless they are accompanying a member.



  The circumstances in which members of the LDWA, acting on behalf of the LDWA, might come into contact with vulnerable people are limited.
  The LDWA is not a sporting body that coaches, teaches or otherwise cares for children or young people in a sporting context, and none of the LDWA’s volunteers take on such roles on behalf of the Association.
  Walks organised by LDWA Local Groups are, in the main, designed for fit and able-bodied participants. It is possible that some participants may have recognised disabilities, but people with more limiting disabilities for activities of this nature are unlikely to wish to participate.
  The situations in which vulnerable groups are most likely to be involved with the LDWA are as follows:
  Children or young people, accompanied by parents or guardians, may join social walks.
  Children or young people, accompanied by parents or guardians, and in accordance with the rules prescribed, may take part in a challenge event. On some events, over-16s may be permitted, within the rules of the event, to participate unaccompanied provided parental consent has been given to their entering.
  Children or young people may accompany parents or guardians who are helping at an event HQ or on an event checkpoint.
  Vulnerable adults may join a social walk, or enter a challenge event, or volunteer as marshals on Local Group events; or take part in Group social events.
  This does not exclude other situations which may occur from time to time, and this Policy applies in all cases.
  In practice, there are relatively few children or young people who take part in social walks or challenge events. LDWA members do not routinely have contact with children or young people in their capacity as LDWA volunteers, nor as participants on social walks or events.
  It is impossible to say how many vulnerable adults might take part in social events or challenge walks, as an entrant or volunteer, as there is no requirement for them to declare any disability (except, possibly, a relevant pre-existing medical condition) and their vulnerability may not be realised until they are put into a stressful situation.
  The purpose of this policy, therefore, is to state the LDWA’s policy with regard to safeguarding vulnerable groups and to detail the procedures to be followed in the event that any form of abuse of a vulnerable person is observed or suspected.


Policy Statement

  The LDWA values and encourages the involvement of all walkers in its activities, including young people or those who may have recognised vulnerabilities. Through this Policy the LDWA is committed to promoting their enjoyment of long distance walking and safeguarding their health, safety and general welfare while in the company or care of LDWA volunteers.
  The LDWA will support anyone who, in good faith, reports his or her concerns that a vulnerable person is at risk of, or may actually be, being abused. All suspicions and allegations of abuse will be taken seriously and responded to swiftly and appropriately, and handled with appropriate sensitivity.


  The LDWA takes seriously its responsibility to protect and safeguard the welfare of children, young people and vulnerable adults who take part in the activities organised by Local Groups on behalf of the LDWA.
  The LDWA will
  Provide a friendly welcome and promote their general welfare.
  Recognise their rights as individuals and treat them with dignity and respect.
  Raise awareness of the dangers to which vulnerable people may be susceptible.
  Develop appropriate procedures for responding to accidents, incidents and alleged or suspected harm.
  This Policy is mandatory for all LDWA members, whether in a volunteer role or as ordinary members. It also applies to guests of the LDWA on social walks, challenge events or on social events.




CRB Checking

  Members of the LDWA, whether in a volunteer role or as ordinary members participating in LDWA organised activities, are not working 'frequently' or 'intensively' with children or vulnerable adults. Therefore, there is no requirement for volunteers to be CRB-checked in order to carry out LDWA volunteer duties.

Good Practice Guidelines

  Some actions, no matter how well intentioned, may be misinterpreted and leave all parties vulnerable. The following is a quick reference guide to appropriate behaviour when involved with those who may be vulnerable.

LDWA members should:

  Bear in mind that some actions, no matter how well intentioned, may be misinterpreted and leave all parties vulnerable.
  Be alert to any potential harm or inappropriate behaviour to people who are vulnerable.
  Respect people's right to privacy.
  Provide access for vulnerable people to discuss any concerns they may have.
  Speak to [the relevant LDWA representative] if they have concerns about an individual’s safety.
  Always work in an open environment (e.g. avoiding private or unobserved situations and encouraging an open environment i.e. no secrets).
  Treat all young people/disabled adults equally, and with respect and dignity.
  Always put the welfare of each young person first, before achieving goals.
  Involve parents/carers wherever possible (e.g. for the responsibility of their children in the changing rooms).
  Give enthusiastic and constructive feedback rather than negative criticism.
  Recognise the developmental needs and capacity of young people and disabled adults - avoiding excessive training and not pushing them against their will.
  Secure parental consent in writing to act in loco parentis, if the need arises to give permission for the administration of emergency first aid and/or other medical treatment.
  Keep a written record of any injury that occurs, along with the details of any treatment given.
  Request written parental consent if LDWA members are required to transport young people in their cars.
  Exercise care when referring to young or vulnerable persons in any published material, either printed or on the internet. This includes event reports, newsletter articles, etc. Particular care is required when publishing photographs of individual children, for which parental consent should be obtained.

LDWA members should not:

  Be left alone for substantial periods of time with anyone who is vulnerable. If an emergency arises where such a situation is unavoidable, it should be with the knowledge of another responsible member.
  Permit abusive behaviour by others or engage in it themselves e.g. ridiculing and bullying.
  Allow or engage in suggestive remarks, gestures or touching of a kind which could be misunderstood.
  Jump to conclusions about others without checking facts.
  Do anything which might undermine the LDWA's good reputation for providing a safe environment.
  Hesitate to share concerns on any of these matters with the appropriate LDWA representative.

Risk Assessment

  A sensible approach to managing risk focuses on practical action to tackle risks that cause real harm and suffering. This Policy provides a framework to manage the risk of vulnerable people being harmed whilst taking part in LDWA activities.
  When organising activities, be they challenge events or social walks, consideration must be given to whether the activities are appropriate for young people to participate, and whether any age or other restrictions should apply in order to reduce the risk of (in particular) physical harm.
  Organisers should refer to the relevant sections [section 2.11 & 2.12] in the LDWA's Guidelines for Event Organisers regarding guidelines for age restrictions on participants and for circumstances in which an event might be captured by the Adventure Activities Licensing Regulations.


Reporting of Incidents


Types of Harm

  Physical - where vulnerable people receive physical hurt or injury.
  Neglect - where adults fail to care for vulnerable people and to protect them from danger, seriously impairing their health, well-being or development.
  Emotional - where vulnerable people are harmed by a constant lack of love and affection or intimidated by threats or taunts.
  Sexual - where vulnerable people are encouraged or forced to observe or participate in any form of sexual activity by adults or children. This also includes the use of sexualised language.
  Common sense should be relied upon to recognise the warning signs. However, it is essential to rely on facts rather than opinions and not jump to conclusions.
  An abuser is often known to the person being abused, whether a parent, sibling, other relative, family friend or neighbour. Not only adults can harm. Children and young people can also suffer abuse from their peers. Sometimes the abuser may be an adult who holds a position of authority over a young person. There is no certain way of identifying a would-be abuser, they can be people of any background and do not appear different from the rest of society.

Designated Persons

  At National Committee level, the LDWA has designated a role of 'Risk Officer' whose responsibilities include review and maintenance of this Safeguarding Policy, providing advice and guidance to Local Groups on Safeguarding issues, and monitoring any incidents that are reported by Local Groups.
  At Local Group level, the appropriate local LDWA representative will be assumed to be as follows, unless otherwise stated:
  For Challenge Walks, the event organiser.
  For Social Walks, the walk leader.
  For Social Events, the event organiser.
  In the event that the appropriate local LDWA representative is not available, or it is not appropriate to contact them, then an alternative member of the Local Group Committee may be contacted, or the Risk Officer of the National Committee.

Responding to accidents / incidents

  In the event of an accident to an individual, first-aid should be administered, preferably by a trained first-aider, and the situation managed to ensure the welfare of the individual and the safety of others. The emergency services should be called for where appropriate.
  An Accident/Incident Report Form should be completed. Where appropriate the circumstances of the accident should be investigated to establish the cause and to identify what remedial action should be taken to minimise the possibility of a recurrence.
  Fatal accidents, major injuries and dangerous occurrences should be notified without delay to the appropriate local LDWA representative, after alerting the appropriate authorities. As soon as possible after the incident the Risk Officer should be informed, and sent a copy of the Accident/Incident Report Form.
  Where an accident/incident involving vulnerable people has been narrowly avoided volunteers/members should detail its nature on an Incident Report Form and pass the information on to the appropriate local LDWA representative.

Responding to alleged or suspected harm

  If a vulnerable person wants to talk about harm, it is essential that the LDWA member/volunteer.
  Listens carefully to what the person says, keeping calm and looking at them directly.
  Lets them know that to help them someone else must be told.
  Reassures them that they are not to blame.
  Is aware that they may have been threatened.
  Does not push them for information.
  Reassures them that they are right to talk about it and what they say is accepted.
  Lets them know what will happen next and undertakes to let them know the outcome.

Dealing with alleged or suspected harm

  If a person who may be vulnerable has talked about harm, or harm is suspected, the LDWA member/ volunteer must do two things:
  Write down accurately what the person has said using the proforma for recording disclosures or signs of abuse witnessed (see Appendix A).
  Notify the appropriate local LDWA representative, giving them the completed proforma/written information.
  It is vitally important that LDWA members/volunteers notify the appropriate LDWA representative, so that they can then inform and liaise with the relevant authorities (Social Services Child Protection Unit or Police Family Liaison Officer).
  Where a nominated LDWA representative is unavailable, and the vulnerable person is in imminent danger, members should contact the relevant authorities themselves. They should then inform the appropriate LDWA representative as soon as possible on their return.
  Dealing with incidents of harm is difficult for any individual so members should not:
  Act alone.
  Start to investigate.
  Make any assumptions about the persons involved.
  Any member who is involved in a disclosure of any kind may feel that they need to speak to a child care professional to reassure themselves that they have done the right thing. The NSPCC operates a 24 hour help line for anyone concerned about a child or young person. It is primarily for use by adults and can be used anonymously: 0800 800500.

Dealing with alleged or suspected harm involving an LDWA member

  Where it is suspected that a member may be involved in the abuse, other members should let the appropriate LDWA representative know as soon as possible. The member concerned should be immediately removed from access to vulnerable people, but be assured that no presumptions have been made and that the allegation will be fully investigated by the relevant authorities. Where it is suspected that the Organiser or Walk Leader may be involved in the abuse, members should let the alternative LDWA representative know as soon as possible

alleged notes

  Full and accurate notes must be kept using the appropriate LDWA pro forma if available (Appendix 1). Where a pro forma is unavailable notes should include:
  The date and time of the alleged incident or disclosure.
  The parties involved.
  What was alleged.
  The action taken.
  Records should be as accurate as possible as they may be invaluable to the investigation and used as evidence in court. Therefore it is important that they are made at the time of any allegation or incident, or as soon as possible afterwards. A copy should be kept by the appropriate LDWA representative.

Confidentiality and sensitivity

  When dealing with personal and emotive details of this nature, confidentiality must be maintained at all times since the allegations or suspicions may prove to be unfounded. Notes and records should be kept in a secure place and shared only with those who need to know about the incident or allegation.
  A sensitive approach should be taken with the accused to explain why an investigation has to take place and to reassure them that the matter will be handled discreetly and even-handedly by the LDWA.
  No assumptions of guilt should be made unless and until an actual conviction has been obtained in the proceedings. Impartial contact will be maintained by a nominated LDWA committee member during this process.


Review and Publicity

  This Policy has been adopted by the National Committee. It will be reviewed every 3 years, or whenever there is a major change in the organisation, or in relevant legislation.
  On an annual basis, the National Committee will review the number of recorded incidents, allegations or complaints, and make changes to the Policy where relevant.
  This Policy will be circulated to all Local Groups, who will be asked to formally endorse it and make it available to members locally.
  The Policy will be published on this website, with clear links from the home page, and attention will be drawn to the adoption of the Policy in the LDWA's publication, Strider.

Appendix A: Pro forma for recording disclosures or signs of abuse witnessed

To be completed by person receiving disclosure or witnessing signs of abuse.

Name of person disclosing or displaying signs of abuse:  
Date and time disclosure received/signs of abuse witnessed: Day Month Year Time am/pm
Is the person disclosing: Male Female
What is their date of birth?(if known): Day Month Year  
What is their address? (if known):  
Please detail what the person said (word for word) or signs of abuse witnessed:  
Other observations / comments:  
Name of person completing this form:  
Signed: Dated:


To be completed by nominated LDWA representative.

Name of representative:  
Date and time form received: Day Month Year Time am/pm
Action taken and date:  
Signed: Dated:

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