By Elyzabeth Hawkes - POhWER Deputy Chief Executive / Designated Safeguarding Lead

Safeguarding Adults Week has reminded me to pause and reflect on our Safeguarding journey in POhWER, in particular our culture and how open and safe it feels to speak up as a member of staff.

At POhWER our advocates and staff support the independent voices of our beneficiaries to challenge when their right to live a life free from abuse is being threatened, ignored or undermined.

It is essential though to remember that on this journey our individual safeguarding responsibility is to protect anybody that comes into contact with our Charity from harm.

It can be easy to create a set of polices, train and support staff to understand what safeguarding is and what their individual role is. But it is less easy to promote a culture internally that gives permission and actively encourages staff to speak up about their own concerns, their own observations, and afford themselves and their colleagues the same rights that we promote for our beneficiaries.

It is essential to acknowledge that not all staff will feel able to raise their concerns or feel safe to do so, and that organisations and individuals recognise and acknowledge the fact that privilege and power will always create an uneven playing field.

POhWER aims to create a level playing field and has listened and worked with our staff, through our essential staff network groups and individual feedback, to continue to try and level the playing field and remove the barriers that restrict and make people fearful to speak up.

We have all the internal reporting lines and escalation routes that you would expect into the Designated Safeguarding Lead and our Human Resources colleagues but this year I am proud to say we have added an external and completely Independent whistleblowing advisory line for all of our staff.

I hope it creates a positive impact for our staff. It’s another step on the continuous safeguarding journey but I believe an essential one which not only provides the advisory service but also promotes and supports the message that POhWER actively encourage an open transparent culture and support system to empower all of us to speak up and feel safe and able to do so, not just for others but for ourselves.