Child Protection Policy

Child protection and safeguarding statement

We, Home from Home Student Services, London Homestays, believe that safeguarding the welfare of children and vulnerable adults staying in our accommodation is of paramount importance. We are committed to ensuring that every child, regardless of age or nationality, at all times and in all situations feel safe and protected from any situation or practice that results in physical or psychological damage, including but not limited to any kind of neglect, non-accidental physical injury, sexual exploitation or emotional ill-treatment.

All adults associated with students aged under 18 have a legal “duty of care” and responsibilities to safeguard those aged under 18. This means to be aware, vigilant and know to report any concerns, even minor ones, or allegations. Everyone who comes into contact with a child has a role to play in sharing information with the Designated Safeguarding Officer and taking prompt action following the Safeguarding policy. It is not the Home from Home Student Services, any of their staff, or their accommodation providers (hosts) responsibility to investigate concerns but to receive, record and refer them correctly and then await further instructions from the Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB).

Home from Home Student Services recognises its duty of care to its students/guest/interns (hereafter referred to as students) and meets its child protection responsibilities through safer recruitment, regular staff training, a clear code of conduct for its staff, its hosts and students, child protection procedures and appropriate communication.

Designated Safeguarding Lead Name: James McCall
Telephone number: 020 8395 0333
Email: j.mccall at londonhomestays.com

In the absence of the Designated Safeguarding Lead, or when it would be inappropriate to report a concern to the Designated Safeguarding Lead (e.g. in case of an allegation against the DSL) or if you would prefer to speak to a female about your reports of concern, please ask to speak to a female Designated Safeguarding Person.

Designated Safeguarding Lead Name (Female): Charlotte Wooller
Telephone number: 020 8395 0333
Email: c.wooller at londonhomestays.com

If you would prefer not to report your concerns to a member of the Home from Home Student Services team but do wish to make your concerns known, there are a number of national organisations you can contact:

Our commitment

Home from Home Student Services, London Homestays make the following commitments:

  • A senior member of staff will be employed as a Safeguarding Officer and as a company we will provide all staff with appropriate training in safeguarding children, which will be regularly updated.
  • The Safeguarding Officer will share all information, including complaints and concerns with the LSCB or LADO when appropriate and necessary.
  • Treat all students with care and respect according to their needs and without discrimination of any kind.
  • Be alert to the medical needs of students with medical conditions.
  • Any person, whose services are no longer used because he or she is considered unsuitable to work with children, will be reported to relevant authorities and/or child protection agencies.
  • We will safeguard the welfare of students through positive measures to address bullying, especially where this is aggravated by sexual or racist factors, or disability or special education needs.
  • All members of staff will be aware of who the Safeguarding Officer is and their role.
  • All members of staff will be aware of our child protection procedures.
  • An annual review will be undertaken by the Company Directors of the Company’s child protection and safeguarding policies and procedures.
  • Any deficiencies or weaknesses which are identified in the child protection and safeguarding arrangements are remedied without delay.
  • Students will be given the opportunity to provide feedback on their stay.

Before students under the age of 18 are placed in homestay accommodation, we will follow the procedures listed below:

  • Hosts will have an initial inspection and subsequent re-inspections of their home. During this inspection, the host will be home and will meet with and be interviewed by the inspector.
  • Hosts will provide an original copy of their identification which will be checked by our inspector. A copy of this ID will be kept on file.
  • Hosts will provide a copy of their (enhanced) DBS certificate for each member of the household aged 18 years old or older. The certificate(s) will be kept in a secure, password protected file. Alternatively, they will provide an enhanced DBS which indicates they ticked the ‘Working at home address’ box when making their application, indicating the certificate was issued based on a ‘home based role’. The certificate will be less than 3 years old.  Homestay hosts cannot accommodate students under 18 years old before a DBS certificate has been received.
  • Applicants with a criminal record will not be automatically deemed unsuitable for the role of accommodating students. The DBS will be reviewed by senior management and a judgement will be made on a case by case basis. The nature of the offense, its seriousness, the date it occured and the frequency of any offenses will all be taken into consideration. Disclosures will be discussed with potential hosts and clear records will be kept.
  • Hosts will sign a self-declaration ‘Children’s Act’ form which will be kept on file. The host will be asked to declare if they or their children have had involvement with Children’s services and if so to provide details of their involvement.
  • All adults within the home will agree to and sign our code of conduct for hosting under 18s.
  • All hosts (recruited after 1 Jan 2016) will provide two suitable references of good character. The references will be given in writing and verified either in person or by telephone.
  • All hosts will have completed at least level 1 safeguarding basic awareness and ‘prevent’ training. We have a copy of their certificate on file.
  • Hosts will have read this child protection policy and will provide verification they have read and understood it, e.g. a signed copy will be kept on file/an email verifying they have read and understood it has been sent and received.

PROCEDURES FOR STAFF AND HOST FAMILIES

Definitions

A concern is something that is not right, based on something you have noticed or been told.

A serious issue indicates that the child could be in danger and it will need an urgent response.

Procedures

It is not unusual to have concerns about young students staying in homestay/hostel/residential accommodation for a variety of reasons. Staff/hosts should, as a matter of course, discuss their concerns with a line manager or London Homestays to clarify their understanding of the situation and to quickly identify/avoid a serious issue. Staff/hosts must always pass information or concerns on to their line manager and/or the Safeguarding Officer and never promise confidentiality in issues concerning child protection.

In the case that the Safeguarding Officer is involved, he/she will liaise with the Company Owner and a decision will be made as to whether the matter should be taken further. This will usually happen where it is believed:

  • There is a risk of significant harm to the student
  • Harm to others
  • A criminal act has taken place
  • The student is at immediate risk or danger

Situations when adults need to respond:

  • A fellow student/under 18 or adult 3rd party expresses a concern.
  • An under 18 student describes something that has happened to them.
  • An under 18 student has unexplained injuries, changes their dress to conceal injuries, suddenly avoids sports or other similar activities.
  • An under 18 student reverts to younger behaviour, becomes extremely nervous or attention seeking or starts routinely misbehaving and/or underachieving.
  • An under 18 student steals or lies.
  • An under 18 student is preoccupied with sexual matters and is sexually provocative with adults.
  • An under 18 student looks unhappy and ill cared for is withdrawn or aggressive or has lingering health problems
  • An under 18 student distrusts adults and other students, has difficulty making friends or drastically changes their personality and behaviour.

ALL ADULTS INCLUDING STAFF, SCHOOL/AGENT PARTNERS AND HOSTS MUST REPORT ALL CONCERNS OR SERIOUS ISSUES TO THE DESIGNATED SAFEGUARDING LEAD OR ONE OR MORE OF THE NATIONAL ORGANISATIONS STATED ABOVE.

THE MAIN TYPES OF ABUSE

The four main types of abuse are physical, sexual, emotional and neglect. Bullying is identified as the fifth form of abuse.

Physical abuse

This is any intentional act which causes harm, injury or trauma to an under 18. This includes violence, especially if pre-planned.

Sexual abuse

The NSPCC states there are 2 different types of child sexual abuse. These are defined as 1) contact abuse and 2) non-contact abuse.

Contact abuse involves touching activities where an abuser makes physical contact with a child, covering any type of sexual contact including where both parties are fully clothed.

Non-contact abuse involves non-touching activities, such as grooming, exploitation, showing inappropriate material to children, viewing or distributing images and online abuse which involves child exploitation of any kind.

Emotional abuse

This is the emotional maltreatment of a child.  Emotional abuse can involve deliberately trying to scare or humiliate a child, or isolating or ignoring them. It can also include such acts as blackmail, threats or intimidation.

Neglect

This is the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical or psychological needs (e.g. to protect child from harm, lack of adequate food/shelter), and is the most common form of child abuse.

This could include an under 18 being left hungry or dirty, without adequate clothing, shelter, supervision, medical or health care.

Bullying

This is the act of hurting somebody else either physically or emotionally. It can happen anywhere, at school, at home, in a homestay or online.  It’s usually repeated over a long period of time. Particular attention should be paid to the relatively recent phenomenon of cyberbullying. This can happen online through social networks, games or mobile phone apps such as Snapchat or Whatsapp.

RECOGNISING THE SIGNS OF ABUSE

Some signs may vary with age of the child. Not every child will exhibit every symptom. As well as signs, children may tell you of abuse. Always listen and take them seriously.

POSSIBLE SIGNS OF SEXUAL ABUSE

  • Acting in an inappropriate sexual way with objects or peers
  • Nightmares, sleeping problems
  • Becoming withdrawn or clingy
  • Personality changes, seeming insecure
  • Unaccountable fear/dread of particular places or people
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Physical signs such as unexplained soreness around genitals, sexually transmitted diseases, bed-wetting
  • Becoming secretive
  • Emotional abuse
  • Delayed physical or emotional development
  • Shows extremes of passivity or aggression
  • Sudden speech disorders
  • Overreaction to mistakes, or continual self-depreciation
  • Neurotic behaviour (rocking, hair twisting, self-mutilation)

POSSIBLE SIGNS OF PHYSICAL ABUSE

  • Has unexplained injuries, bruises, burns, etc
  • Wearing clothes to cover injuries, even in hot weather
  • Refusal to undress for sports, or join swimming sessions
  • Neglect
  • Often hungry; may beg or steal food
  • Badly dressed in clothes that need washing
  • Poor appearance and personal hygiene; unwashed, hair not brushed
  • Lacks needed medical or dental care
  • Often tired
  • Might abuse alcohol or other drugs

Further training

Safeguarding training Basic Awareness training is free online. It can be found from the following link: Click Here

Level 2 and 3 training is usually delivered face to face but can be found online from the following link: Click Here

HOW TO REACT IF YOU SUSPECT ABUSE

  1. Remain calm, accessible and receptive, listen carefully without interrupting.
  2. Communicate with the student in a way that is appropriate to their age, understanding and preference.
  3. Be aware of the non-verbal messages you are giving.
  4. Make it clear that you are taking them seriously.
  5. Acknowledge their courage and reassure them that they are right to tell.
  6. Reassure them that they should not feel guilty, let them know that you are going to do everything you can to help them and what may happen as a result.
  7. Do not promise to keep the information a secret.

PROCEDURE TO FOLLOW IF ABUSE IS SUSPECTED

  1. Inform the Safeguarding Officer if you notice any significant physical and behavioural changes or suspect abuse has or is taking place. This includes information reported to you.
  2. If a student makes any comment that gives cause for concern or there is any deterioration in the student’s general well-being, react calmly as described in the guidelines above and inform the Safeguarding Officer.
  3. The Safeguarding Officer will take appropriate action, which may involve external agencies and contacting parents/guardians.
  4. The Safeguarding Officer will report the situation to LADO (Local Authority Designated Officer). The LADO is part of the Local Area Safeguarding Children Board and will decide what steps need to be taken. The LADO will advise the Designated Person of the next steps.

If the disclosure of abuse is about somebody in the student’s home country, the same procedure is followed. For example, the LADO may decide to inform the relevant authorities in that country.

PROCEDURE TO FOLLOW IF AN UNDER 18 APPROACHES YOU ABOUT ABUSE

All reports of abuse and mistreatment should be taken seriously. All conversations should be recorded and information should be passed to the Safeguarding lead. The following procedure should be followed:

  1. Listen –  Let them speak and listen carefully and calmly to what they are saying. Try not to appear shocked by what they are telling you or react in an overly negative way. Accept what they are telling you and show that that you take it seriously. DO NOT interrogate, ask leading questions or make judgements.
  2. Offer Reassurance – Reassure them that they are doing the right thing by speaking to you and that you will try your best to help them. Always be honest and never make promises you cannot keep. Never promise confidentiality as you have a duty to record and refer the information.
  3. Take Action – Explain what you do next and who you need to talk to. Let them know the person you will speak with will be trained and experienced in this type of situation and they will be able to help.
  4. Record – Make brief notes at the time and as soon as the under 18 has left you, write them up more fully. Write exactly what you were told using the words and the language the child used to tell you. Include statements and observations rather than your interpretations or assumptions. Do not destroy your original notes in case they are later required in court.
  5. Inform – Immediately inform London Homestays’ Designated Safeguarding Lead or an alternative safeguarding officer or one of the national agencies listed above.

WITHIN THE HOMESTAY

Hosts accommodating students from London Homestays agree to treat all students as a full member of the household, eating together and sharing the common living areas. No more than four students will be accommodated in homestay accommodation at any one time.

In homestay accommodation the following is made available to the student to ensure a comfortable living environment throughout their stay:

  • A proper state of cleanliness and repair
  • Adequate heating and lighting
  • Adequately sized bed and adequate hanging and drawer space for clothes
  • A sufficiently spacious bedroom with natural light
  • Appropriate privacy from members of the opposite sex
  • A table for private study (where appropriate)
  • Sufficient washing facilities and access to a bathroom, with baths or showers available daily
  • A change of towels and bed linen each week and an adequate supply of duvets or blankets
  • A laundry service (especially in the case of under-16s) or clearly explained laundry arrangements.
  • Meals will be provided as per the booking confirmation and will provide the student with a well-balanced diet, taking into account any reasonable dietary requirements expressed by students.

SCOPE OF RESPONSIBILITY

It is important that all parties involved in the accommodation of under 18s know and understand their roles, their level of responsibility and what is expected from them. This includes hosts, schools, agents and the students themselves. Each party will be provided with their code of conduct and will agree to adhere to the rules stated in their respective codes before an under 18 will be placed in homestay accommodation. Full codes of conduct are available upon request by sending an email with information on the document requested to: info@londonhomestays.com. A basic overview of each can be found below:

HOSTS

Students under 16 years old should never be accommodated with students of 18 years or older. Using our booking management system, we will endeavour to ensure this does not happen. If we suspect a host is breaking this rule and accommodating an older student from an alternative provider, we will immediately remove the younger student and will launch an investigation which may (if the complaint is upheld), result in the host being excluded as a provider.

Hosts are expected to be at home to greet students upon arrival, if sufficient notice of the arrival time is given. If sufficient notice is given and the host is unable to be at home, London Homestays will arrange with the host for a suitable alternative arrangement to be made.

No more than one student will be accommodated in the same bedroom unless specifically requested in writing by London Homestays e.g. the booking is confirmed as a twin booking.

Hosts are responsible for taking steps to ensure under 18s receive privacy when they use the bathroom or they are in their bedrooms.

Hosts should at all times be appropriately dressed. They should be supportive and fair to all students, use appropriate language and show patience and understanding when dealing with all students/guests but especially with under 18s.

Hosts should always be present overnight and normally present when students under 18 are at home. Under 18s should not be left unsupervised for anything other than short periods.

Hosts are responsible for providing laundry service, as well as breakfast and dinner, to students/guests that are under 18 years old. The only exception to this is if an alternative arrangement has been confirmed in writing by London Homestays e.g. the booking is confirmed as a bed and breakfast booking.

Hosts should maintain an open, tolerant, supportive and friendly environment within their home.

Hosts will take time to explain how their home ‘works’ including laundry routines, meal times and basic house rules.

Hosts need to ensure that any entertainment shown in their house is age appropriate and not harmful in any way, so as to not cause any offence. This includes TV shows, movies, music and get-togethers or parties.

Although it is self-evident, hosts and members of their household SHOULD NEVER engage in sexual activity or any kind of inappropriate touching with students under 18. According to the Sexual Offences Act 2003 any person in a Position of Trust engaged in sexual activity of any sort with students under the age of 18 is breaking the law. Any incidents will be immediately reported to the police and the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO).

Schools/Agents

For under 18s enrolled on adult courses, the school is responsible for providing all pastoral care outside of the homestay. This must be appropriate to the student’s age, background and circumstances. The school must not only comply with the law but also adhere to all British Council and Accreditation UK stipulations, criteria and guidelines on the accommodation and care of under 18s. This includes having specific welfare systems in place to support under 18s enrolled on adult courses. There must also be a specific member of staff trained in child safeguarding, clearly introduced to students as a ‘designated officer’, who is responsible for all child welfare and protection issues. The designated officer is responsible for undertaking risk assessments for each student under 18 booked to stay in our accommodation e.g. the journey from the homestay to the school.

As the school has direct contact with the student, they are responsible for gathering feedback from the student and ensuring they are happy in their accommodation and with their host. All feedback should be relayed directly to London Homestays for safety and quality control purposes.

Students must be informed of the school’s 24-hour emergency contact number, their host’s contact number as given on the accommodation confirmation and preferably London Homestays’ emergency contact details.

In addition to the above schools/agents are responsible for all communication with the student and their parent or guardian. This includes collating and filing all necessary documentation for the travel and safe accommodation of an under 18, including but not limited to parental consent forms, transfer information, the arrangement of meals outside of those booked as part of the homestay package and the overall pastoral care of the student.

It should be noted that:

  • London Homestays does not provide 24-hour supervision for students. Nor does it provide guardianship services (unless specifically requested and paid for prior to the student’s arrival).
  • Other than the time spent inside of the homestay, students will be unsupervised. Hosts will report if students regularly miss meals, do not return by their curfew or are not following the “Under 18s code of conduct for students”. However, they will not provide a ‘complete’ level of supervision; outside of the hours of curfew, students will be free to come and go as they please so the hosts are not responsible for their safety outside of the homestay.
  • Students will travel between homestay and school unsupervised. London Homestays does not provide transportation or chaperone services (unless specifically requested and paid for prior to the student’s arrival).
  • The curfew time for all students aged 16 – 17 years of age is 22:30. Students must ensure they have returned to the homestay by or before this time on a daily basis without fail.  If they are not adhered to, the students will no longer be allowed to go out in the evenings or may be asked to leave the homestay to return to their parent/guardian. In such extreme cases, London Homestays will not be obliged to provide a refund to find an alternative accommodation.

It is the school’s/agent’s responsibility to ensure the student and their parents/guardian are aware of the above prior to booking their accommodation.

RECORD-KEEPING

Records generated for the purpose of child safeguarding are processed in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998, which requires that personal information held for these records is adequate, relevant and not excessive for the purpose which it is held. It is accurate and where necessary kept up to date and it is not kept for longer than necessary for its purpose. All of our data protection processes follow the European legislation on General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

It is essential that clear and accurate records are kept regarding all welfare issues. Any disclosure of abuse, made either by a student or another member of staff/host family, must be recorded in the feedback section of the host/accommodation providers’ file. This will include the feedback given, the action taken and the resolution or conclusion.

The report should be factual and should not include opinions or personal interpretations of the facts presented, as it may form part of a criminal investigation. The report should be named and date-stamped by the member of staff filing the report.

If deemed appropriate and necessary by the Safeguarding Officer, a hard copy of the report will be made, signed by the staff making the report and a copy kept and stored in a secure place. In the case of a breach of security, relevant parties will be informed within 72 hours.

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