Safeguarding policy

Oyster has strict policies in place about the ethos and practices of the organisations we work with. We also ensure that our participants are appropriately vetted and able to do the job.

Oyster’s Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy aims to provide protection in three areas:

  1. Some projects involve work with children.  We want to ensure that Oyster participants are properly checked and have guidelines on appropriate behaviour, in order to safeguard the children and protect participants from allegation.
  2. Occasionally, an Oyster participant will be aged under 18 and is still legally a child. We be able to confirm their maturity and experience through the interview process, but will still give them extra support and protection as outlined below.
  3. We expect our UK staff and leaders at the projects to adhere to a code of conduct in the way they deal with all participants, reflecting the need to ensure boundaries and protect the interests of both participants and staff.

Assessing the project

  • We thoroughly assess each project to ensure that children are well cared for and supported by full-time members of staff.
  • We only work with properly regulated orphanages and family homes.
  • We only send participants to a project if it will genuinely benefit the children and not create a burden to staff.
  • We expect clear child protection policies to be in place.

Checking and preparing participants

  • We interview every participant to make sure that they have the right personality and motivation to work with children.
  • We check that participants are physically and mentally up to the challenges of child care work.
  • Participants working with children are expected to have prior experience in a relevant field.
  • All participants working with vulnerable children must be DBS or police checked.
  • Participants working with children must volunteer for a minimum of 4 weeks. Longer stays are encouraged.
  • Participants are given thorough preparation and a code of conduct before departure, so that they know exactly what to expect. This includes:
    • Information about the organisation they will be joining and the needs of its children
    • Their role and typical daily activities
    • Who they will be working with and supported by
    • Rules and regulations relevant to their project and child protection (including issues such as photographing children)
    • Their orientation and induction
    • Complaints and concerns procedure
  • Briefing and training is also provided on arrival.
  • A member of staff will be appointed as the participant point of contact. There will also be ongoing local support from Oyster.

Child protection for children cared for by Oyster Worldwide participants

  • The project’s risk assessment should highlight the potential risks of working with children.
  • All child care and teaching participants (paid and volunteering) must have a police check if over 18.
  • All child care and teaching participants (paid and volunteering) must give a professional or academic reference, and these should be checked.
  • All child care and teaching participants (paid and volunteering) must receive and provide written confirmation that they will adhere to Oyster’s code of conduct for working with children.
  • The induction process should include advice about safeguarding matters and appropriate behaviour at the project.
  • All child care and teaching participants (paid and volunteering) must be supported by representatives abroad, who can provide additional advice.
  • All child care and teaching participants (paid and volunteering) must report any incidents or suspected incidents of child abuse to the country representative.
  • All child care and teaching participants (paid and volunteering) must not take children out of the project without advance permission from the representative and project supervisor.

Child protection for Oyster Worldwide participants aged under 18

  • Oyster Worldwide will check which projects are appropriate for participants aged under 18 and will restrict such bookings to these ones.
  • Written risk assessments for projects will consider safeguarding risks and ways to mitigate them.
  • All participants will be interviewed by Oyster Worldwide prior to booking, to ensure they have the necessary competence for the programme. Where the participant is under 18, the destination manager will seek evidence of their maturity and independence.
  • Parents/guardians will be asked to provide written consent if the participant is under 18 at the time of booking.
  • Parents/guardians are viewed as stakeholders and must be included in correspondence initiated by Oyster.
  • Advice on vaccinations, prophylaxis and dealing with medication will be provided to both the participant and the parent/guardian.
  • A code of conduct must be read and signed by the participant and their parent/guardian.
  • There will be clear lines of communications between Oyster and the programme representatives abroad and parents/guardian.
  • Staff in the UK and representatives abroad agree to follow behaviour protocols to safeguard participants.
  • Although our projects are not specifically geared towards under-18s, we ask supervisors to recognise the child protection issues associated with this group.

Child protection policy for UK staff

  • All UK staff having direct contact with under-18 year olds will provide references and a police check/DBS.
  • All staff will be made aware of child protection and safeguarding issues, and will agree in writing to adhere to Oyster Worldwide’s protocols (listed below).

Child protection policy for staff/ representatives abroad

  • Leaders should be vetted prior to their appointment and references checked.
  • Leaders should be experienced in supervising groups and have received in-house training.
  • Leaders will confirm in writing that they agree to comply with Oyster Worldwide’s protocols (listed below).

Behaviour protocols for UK staff

In the UK office, all staff members, who are in direct contact with children or vulnerable adults, are DBS checked and when interviewing participants who are under 18, they are required to do the following:

  • Always keep the door open when an interview is conducted.
  • Encourage parents to accompany their child to our office if they wish.

Behaviour protocols for overseas reps and supervisors

Oyster expects all those supervising participants to follow the protocols below, in order to safeguard participants and avoid being the target of false allegations.

  • Aim to work in an open environment and avoid private or unobserved situations.
  • Treat all participants with respect and dignity. Avoid having favourites.
  • Maintain an appropriate relationship with participants.
  • Be sensitive when taking pictures or videos and always ask permission.
  • Do not take drugs or engage in excessive alcohol consumption with participants.
  • Keeping written records of an injury or incident that occurs.
  • Listen to any issues that are raised by participants and take any allegations about safeguarding seriously.
  • Where a participant is under 18, take extra steps to ensure they are not working alone or put in situations where they might be vulnerable.

The following practices are forbidden:

  • Engaging in a romantic or sexual relationship with participants.
  • Sharing a bedroom with participants.
  • Inappropriate touching (this includes applying sun cream).
  • Making sexual suggestions or jokes to any participants.
  • Inviting a participant under 18 to your home on their own.