As women, educators and youth workers, protecting – safeguarding – children – in our case young women and girls – from harm is something we know to be important in our work across Africa. Project GROW brought us together to learn more about safeguarding and child protection, working with an expert trainer. Each organisation spent around six months working with him, challenging our assumptions and giving us the tools to ensure that our work proactively protected those in our care. 

Safeguarding is a gift for all of us – women, girls and youth workers

We also saw that good safeguarding protects staff and volunteers who are working with young people. When something goes wrong – when a child or a vulnerable young person is in danger or has already experienced harm – we suffer for them. We often get overwhelmed even when it hasn’t been our or our organisation’s fault. Setting up good systems allows us to reduce this burden. If there is a risk or an incident, our team knows how to deal with it, and who is responsible. We know how to reduce the chances of it happening again. It gives us the space to focus on all of the positive work we are doing. 

Further, we know that having a safeguarding policy is an expectation of increasing numbers of funders [You can learn more about this here] – but that having a policy alone doesn’t protect vulnerable people or empower youth workers. 

We want to share the fruits of our labours with you

This guide is not a rulebook or template for developing bullet-proof safeguarding policies and procedures. Rather, it is: 

  • An introduction to safeguarding for youth workers who have not considered it before
  • A chance to reflect on your existing safeguarding, and how and why you should improve
  • Sharing our own learning on barriers and misconceptions of safeguarding amongst youth workers and educators 
  • Reflection on our experience when implementing this in African contexts
  • Helping you to lay the foundations for your own safeguarding policies, and directing you to expert support to do this well

This guide will not provide you with a child protection policy template that you can download. We believe, from our experience, that there is a huge value for each organisation to create their own policies because this is how we identify risks and responsibilities and create solutions that continue to educate and empower both our teams and – fundamentally – those vulnerable women and girls we serve as youth workers. 

How to use this guide

You can use this tool on your own or as a team to reflect on and develop your youth activities. Use it to:

  • Celebrate what you are already doing well, and everything you already know! 
  • Identify what you could do better
  • Inspire your team
  • Remember why you first started working with young women and girls, and how each person you work with is worth keeping safe

So are you ready? 

You can read this guide as a book, or dip in and out. Each page can be shared with your friends and colleagues from your mobile. And each page has reflection questions so that you can relate the fruits of our experience as youth workers with your own project – essentially you can use this as a training course.

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