Safeguarding Policy


The purpose of this policy is to protect people, particularly children, at risk adults and beneficiaries of assistance, from any harm that may be caused due to their coming into contact with International Relief Foundation (IRF). This includes harm arising from:

  • The conduct of staff or personnel associated with IRF
  • The design and implementation of IRF’s programmes and activities

The policy lays out the commitments made by IRF and informs staff and associated personnel of their responsibilities concerning safeguarding.

This policy does not cover:

  • Sexual Harassment in the workplace – this is dealt with under IRF’s Anti Bullying and Harassment Policy
  • Safeguarding concerns on the broader community not perpetrated by IRF or associated personnel.

What is safeguarding?

In the UK, safeguarding means protecting people’s health, wellbeing and human rights and enabling them to live free from harm, abuse and neglect.

In our sector, we understand it to mean protecting people, including children and at risk adults, from harm that arises from coming into contact with our staff or programmes.

 Further definitions relating to safeguarding are provided in the glossary below.


  • All staff contracted by IRF
  • Associated personnel whilst engaged with work or visits related to IRF, including but not limited to the following: consultants; volunteers; contractors; programme visitors including journalists, celebrities and politicians.

Policy Statement 

IRF believes that everyone we come into contact with, regardless of age, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation or ethnic origin, has the right to be protected from all forms of harm, abuse, neglect and exploitation. IRF will not tolerate abuse and exploitation by staff or associated personnel.

This policy will address the following areas of safeguarding [as appropriate]:  child safeguarding, adult safeguarding, and protection from sexual exploitation and abuse. These key areas of safeguarding may have different policies and procedures associated with them (see Associated Policies).

IRF commits to addressing safeguarding throughout its work through the three pillars of prevention, reporting and response.

IRF Responsibilities 

IRF will:

  • Ensure all staff have access to, are familiar with, and know their responsibilities within this policy
  • Design and undertake all its programmes and activities in a way that protects people from any risk of harm that may arise from their coming into contact with. This includes how information about individuals in our programmes is gathered and communicated.
  • Implement stringent safeguarding procedures when recruiting, managing and deploying staff and associated personnel
  • Ensure staff receive training on safeguarding at a level commensurate with their role in the organization
  • Follow up on reports of safeguarding concerns promptly and according to due process.

Staff Responsibilities
Child Safeguarding

IRF staff and associated personnel must not:

  • Engage in sexual activity with anyone under the age of 18
  • Sexually abuse or exploit children
  • Subject a child to physical, emotional or psychological abuse, or neglect
  • Engage in any commercially exploitative activities with children, including child labour or trafficking

Adult Safeguarding 

IRF staff and associated personnel must not:

  • Sexually abuse or exploit at risk adults
  • Subject an at risk adult to physical, emotional or psychological abuse, or neglect

Protection from sexual exploitation and abuse

IRF staff and associated personnel must not:

  • Exchange money, employment, goods or services for sexual activity. This includes any exchange of assistance that is due to beneficiaries of assistance.
  • Engage in any sexual relationships with beneficiaries of assistance since they are based on inherently unequal power dynamics

Additionally, IRF staff and associated personnel are obliged to:

  • Contribute to creating and maintaining an environment that prevents safeguarding violations and promotes the implementation of the Safeguarding Policy
  • Report any concerns or suspicions regarding safeguarding violations by an IRF staff member or associated personnel to the appropriate staff member

Enabling Reports

IRF will ensure that safe, appropriate, accessible means of reporting safeguarding concerns are made available to staff and the communities we work with.

Any staff reporting concerns or complaints through formal whistleblowing channels (or if they request it) will be protected by IRF’s Disclosure of Malpractice in the Workplace (Whistleblowing) Policy.

IRF will also accept complaints from external sources such as public members, partners and official bodies. 

How to report a safeguarding concern

Staff members who have a complaint or concern relating to safeguarding should report it immediately to their Safeguarding Focal Point [as appropriate] or line manager. If the staff member does not feel comfortable reporting to their Safeguarding Focal Point or line manager (for example, if they feel that the report will not be taken seriously, or if that person is implicated in the concern), they may report to any other appropriate staff member. For example, this could be a senior manager or an HR team member.


IRF will follow up on safeguarding reports and concerns according to policy and procedure and legal and statutory obligations (see Procedures for reporting and response to safeguarding concerns in Associated Policies).

IRF will apply appropriate disciplinary measures to staff found in breach of policy.

IRF will offer support to survivors of harm caused by staff or associated personnel, regardless of whether a formal internal response is carried out (such as an internal investigation). The survivor will lead decisions regarding support.


Confidentiality must be maintained at all stages of the process when dealing with safeguarding concerns. Information relating to the fears and subsequent case management should be shared on a need to know basis only and should be kept secure at all times.

Associated Policies 

Code of Conduct

Anti-Bullying and Harassment policy

Disclosure of Malpractice in the Workplace (Whistleblower) policy

Child Safeguarding policy

Adult Safeguarding policy

PSEA (Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by staff) policy

Complaints Policy

Procedures for reporting and response to safeguarding concerns

Procedures for safeguarding in staff recruitment

Other policies as appropriate

Glossary of Terms
Beneficiary of Assistance 

Someone who directly receives goods or services from IRF’s programme. Note that misuse of power can also apply to the broader community that the IRF serves and include exploitation by giving the perception of being in a position of power.


A person below the age of 18


Psychological, physical and any other infringement of an individual’s rights

Psychological harm

Emotional or psychological abuse, including (but not limited to) humiliating and degrading treatment such as bad name-calling, constant criticism, belittling, persistent shaming, solitary confinement and isolation.

Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA)

The term is used by the humanitarian and development community to refer to the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse of affected populations by staff or associated personnel.  The term derives from the United Nations Secretary General’s Bulletin on Special Measures for Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (ST/SGB/2003/13)


In the UK, safeguarding means protecting people’s health, wellbeing and human rights, and enabling them to live free from harm, abuse and neglect[1]

In our sector, we understand it to mean protecting people, including children and at risk adults, from harm that arises from coming into contact with our staff or programmes.  One donor definition is as follows:

Safeguarding means taking all reasonable steps to prevent harm, particularly sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment from occurring; to protect people, especially vulnerable adults and children, from that harm; and to respond appropriately when harm does occur.

This definition draws from our values and principles and shapes our culture. It pays specific attention to preventing and responding to harm from any potential, actual or attempted abuse of power, trust, or vulnerability, especially for sexual purposes.

Safeguarding applies consistently and without exception across our programmes, partners and staff. It requires proactively identifying, preventing and guarding against all risks of harm, exploitation and abuse and having mature, accountable and transparent systems for a response, reporting and learning when risks materialise. Those systems must be survivor-centred and also protect those accused until proven guilty.

Safeguarding puts beneficiaries and affected persons at the centre of all we do.

Sexual Abuse

The term ‘sexual abuse’ means the actual or threatened physical intrusion of a sexual nature, whether by force or under unequal or coercive conditions.

Sexual Exploitation

The term ‘sexual exploitation means any actual or attempted abuse of a position of vulnerability, differential power, or trust, for sexual purposes, including, but not limited to, profiting monetarily, socially or politically from the sexual exploitation of another.  This definition includes human trafficking and modern slavery.


The person who has been abused or exploited. The term ‘survivor’ is often used in preference to ‘victim’ as it implies strength, resilience and the capacity to survive, however, it is the individual’s choice how they wish to identify themselves.

At-Risk Adult

Sometimes also referred to them as vulnerable adults.  A person who is or may be in need of care by reason of mental or other disability, age or illness; and who is or may be unable to take care of him or herself, or unable to protect him or herself against significant harm or exploitation.