Vulnerable people are at a greater risk of abuse because they may lack the mental capacity to make decisions about their life, they are elderly and frail, they face isolating cultural factors or they have a disability that prevents them from taking care of themselves. These vulnerable children and adults need to be safeguarded. Safeguarding means protecting and promoting a person’s right to live in safety and to ensure they are free from abuse and neglect. Safeguarding interventions should focus on preventing harm and reducing the risk of abuse and neglect for adults with needs for care and support, and responding to individuals in ways that support them in making their own choices. The person-centred approach places premium on the service recipient’s right to choose, the right to participate as an equal and the right to equality of opportunity as a value and empowerment strategy.
Everyone has the right to be part of activities happening in the community, as an individual or as part of a group. Participation must be on equal terms with everyone else. Support must be available, if needed, which is appropriate to the person and the situation to accessing what the individual wants to do
Vulnerable adults are at risk of physical abuse/assault, sexual abuse, psychological/emotional abuse, financial or property abuse, discrimination abuse, institutional abuse, neglect and acts of omission. These abuses happen every day in our homes, institutions of learning, workplaces and the community. Some are more pronounced and the likelihood of reporting is high but others are not recognised as abuses in the first place. For instance, psychological/emotional abuse where children and vulnerable adults face threats of harm or abandonment, deprivation of contact, humiliation, blaming, controlling, intimidation, coercion, harassment, verbal abuse, isolation or withdrawal from services or supportive networks. Children and vulnerable adults often face communication difficulties causing them less likely to tell anyone about any abuse they have suffered. Others may feel may feel they deserved to be abused due to low self-esteem/low self-image or feel threatened by the abuser while others may not report due to cultural barriers and religious values such as forgiveness. Members of the public may also shy from reporting abuses and neglect due to fear of the consequences of speaking out or whistle-blowing.
Simon Sykes of Training café tells a story about safeguarding at ANYWHERE LTD, where everybody, somebody, anybody and nobody were employed. Safeguarding was the responsibility of everybody and everybody was sure that somebody would do it. St. Martin CSA identified this gap, particularly in safeguarding vulnerable adults and trained 24 staff drawn from 3 organisations working with vulnerable groups on safeguarding. The trained staff will work in a consortium of social safeguards to protect and promote the right of adults at risk to live in safety and to ensure they are free from abuse and neglect. More important is to develop transformative frameworks that promote relational and contextual safeguarding and make safeguarding everybody’s responsibility.
EVERYBODY should have done it, but NOBODY did it. SOMEBODY got emotionally abused because it was EVERYBODY’S job but NOBODY did it. EVERYBODY thought, ANYBODY could have done it, but NOBODY realised that EVERYBODY wouldn’t do it. It ended up that EVERYBODY blamed SOMEBODY when NOBODY did what ANYBODY could have done…