Safeguarding Policy

Operation International medical volunteers helping children

Operation International UK Safeguarding Policy


Everyone involved with OIUK is responsible for ensuring OIUK operates safely, with patient welfare at its heart. We must all stand up for people who can’t speak up for themselves. Speaking up if you’re worried someone is harming or abusing someone else is always the right thing to do. People are often worried that if they report someone for doing wrong, they’ll hurt that person. But doing nothing could hurt others even more. There are many reasons why people might feel uncomfortable or be scared to report suspicions of abuse. That’s ok. It’s worth fighting those fears so you can help someone. If you speak up, OIUK will take all the steps necessary to protect you and make sure you’re not harmed or criticised for it.

OIUK will ensure activities are carried out in accordance with applicable laws and regulations, with the safety and welfare of all individuals that interact with OIUK at its core. Safeguarding is often not "black and white" and people will need support to make the right judgement call. However, some general principles apply when a staff member or volunteer is responding to a safeguarding concern.

Trustees should promote a fair, open and positive culture and ensure all involved feel able to report concerns, confident that they will be heard and responded to. The following policy outlines the types of safeguarding risks that OIUK may face, how to mitigate these risks, and how to report, act on, report and escalate any safeguarding incidents if they arise.

The Safeguarding Lead

One trustee, normally the chairperson, takes the role of Safeguarding Lead. The Safeguarding lead is the designated person responsible for Safeguarding at OI UK. However all trustees have an awareness of safeguarding and lead by example. This means showing commitment safe conduct and making safeguarding an integral part of all fundraising and mission planning.

Trustees should model best practice in relation to:

  • Safeguarding
  • Bullying
  • Sexual harassment
  • Good record-keeping
  • Creating a supportive atmosphere where people feel able to report concerns
  • Listening to staff and volunteers.

Types of Risks

OI UK, its volunteers and donor recipients may be exposed to the following risks:

  • Sexual harassment, abuse and exploitation
  • Criminal exploitation
  • Negligent treatment
  • Physical or emotional abuse
  • Bullying or harassment
  • Health and safety
  • Female genital mutilation
  • Discrimination on any of the grounds cited in the United Kingdom's 2010 Equality Act
  • People may target your charity
  • A charity’s culture may allow poor behaviour and poor accountability
  • People may abuse a position of trust they hold within a charity
  • Data breaches, including those cited in the United Kingdom's 2018 General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) Act

Safeguarding – Risk Reduction, Recognise, Respond and Report

Risk Reduction

To confirm that those who volunteer for OIUK are suitable to do so, OIUK will leverage the professional registration and safeguarding requirements for health care workers in the United Kingdom.

Volunteers will attest that they are licensed to practice in their country of practice and have completed safeguarding training within the last 24 months in the OIUK application form.

Where volunteers are not based in the UK, OIUK will ensure national equivalents are leveraged. If no national equivalent is available, OIUK will consider providing individual safeguarding training.

OIUK will verify registration with the General Medical Council/Nursing Midwifery Council or national equivalents.

Volunteers will be required to provide references from current and prior employers.

All volunteers are obliged to read this OIUK safeguarding policy prior to any missions.


If someone raises a concern about a child’s/adult’s wellbeing:

OIUK will encourage the person reporting the incident to write a clear and frank statement of the concern. OIUK will ask for their consent to share information, but will be obliged to share the report even without consent if the safeguarding issue warrants it. Similarly, OIUK will not promise confidentiality if the safeguarding issue requires disclosure. This report will be immediately escalated to the designated Safeguarding Lead.

Response: How to respond to concerns or allegations of harm that may have happened

Ensuring patient/volunteer safety is the primary consideration – the Safeguarding Lead will consider the situation and take appropriate steps to ensure immediate patient safety. E.g. remove person from clinical environment.

Report: Investigate the Incident

The Safeguarding Lead will take sensible steps to investigate the report and remedy any issues found.

A thorough report must be documented which details the initial report, findings, and the plan implemented (if applicable).

Escalate as necessary.

The Safeguarding Lead will raise any relevant issues in the end-of-mission debrief with the donor hospital staff. At this debrief a handover of clinical care, any morbidity or mortality events and any incidents with lessons learnt will be discussed.

As appropriate, the Safeguarding Lead will report any incidents to the General Medical Council (UK), the Nursing and Midwifery Council (UK), the national equivalents of volunteers or staff involved, the Metropolitan Police Force, and Local Police Forces.

A serious incident is an adverse event, whether actual or alleged, which results in or risks significant:

  • Harm to beneficiaries, staff, volunteers or others who come into contact with your charity through its work (who are collectively referred to throughout this guidance as people who come into contact with your charity through its work)
  • Loss of money or assets
  • Damage to property
  • Harm to OI UK’s work or reputation
  • Serious incidents will be reported to the Operational International board, and to the Charities Commission of England and Wales as part of the annual report.

Back to Team UK page