Why safeguarding adults is every instructor’s responsibility [and how easy it is to implement]

We have rounded up some key information you need to know about safeguarding adults and included top tips, support documents, and resources for you to use straight away!

Just a quick note…

In this blog we focus information on safeguarding adults. If you’re looking for information on safeguarding children, you can:

Visit the Child Protection in Sport Unit website

The Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU) was set up by the NSPCC. The website has some great resources, including training and self-assessment tools.

Use the EMD UK safeguarding children website section

Here you’ll find practical resources and templates to help your business. These include codes of conduct and information for parents.

All resources are free to view and download.

What is safeguarding

Safeguarding sounds complicated, but it’s very simple.

Safeguarding is a term used to describe the actions taken to protect individuals from harm. These measures particularly support children, young people, and adults at risk.

Put simply, safeguarding ensures everyone can attend the activities they like safely and without fearing harm from those around them.

Why is safeguarding important

Safeguarding protects people from harm.

As NHS England puts it:

“Safeguarding means protecting a citizen’s health, wellbeing and human rights; enabling them to live free from harm, abuse and neglect.”

It allows adults to physically, mentally and socially thrive, enjoying the activities they love.

You may have a brief understanding of Safeguarding, however It’s your job to have policies and procedures in place to protect your clients and your business.

Why it’s your responsibility

As a group exercise instructor, you have a duty of care to your class attendees. In the same way that you try to keep them from accidents by doing risk assessments, there are things you can do to help keep them safe from harm.

The Care Act 2014 put the safeguarding of adults on a statutory footing. If your organisation has regular contact with the public, you have a crucial role to play in the support, identification and reporting of adults who may be at risk of harm.

You must actively work to prevent abuse from occurring within your organisation, and you must be prepared to respond proportionately if abuse or neglect has occurred.

Organisations that fail to do this risk failing to meet their duty of care, which at worst could leave adults at risk vulnerable to harm.

Who might abuse adults?

Ann Craft Trust sums this up:

“Abuse and neglect might be carried out by anyone in contact with adults, even by people employed to provide care.

There may be indicators that adults are experiencing harm from people within your organisation, such as volunteers, members of staff, or other members of the public. Or they may be experiencing harm from those connected with their life outside your organisation, such as a carer or a spouse.

This may include:

  • Spouses, friends, family and neighbours
  • People employed to provide care
  • Paid staff or professionals
  • Volunteers
  • Strangers”

The policies and procedures your fitness business puts in place will help to mitigate this.

Did you know the law around safeguarding has been updated?

As of 28 June 2022, the law concerning positions of trust changed.

What is a position of trust?

Someone in a position of trust is a person in a position of authority or responsibility over another person. Those in positions of trust have a considerable amount of power and influence on a young person’s life.

For example, a young person may be dependent on their personal trainer, swimming teacher, coach or other adult for their sport and physical activity participation, development or progression.

What changed?

Sections 16 to 19 of the Sexual Offence Act 2003 (the Act) state that it is illegal for an adult in a position of trust to be involved in sexual activity with a person who is 16 or 17 years old and who they look after.

Personal trainer assisting a woman with seated dumbbell press

The law changes have expanded to include adults in a position of trust, where an adult is coaching, teaching, training, supervising or instructing in a sport to a 16 or 17-year-old on a regular basis. This includes group exercise instructors.

You can Find out more here.

A woman looking down as she holds two dumbbells at her shoulders

Five ways to make safeguarding adults simple in your fitness business

1. Evaluate your current situation

You don’t have to be a safeguarding expert, but it’s important to get the basics right. This starts with evaluating:

  • The knowledge you currently have
  • Your organisation’s commitment to safeguarding
  • Your current policies and procedures
  • Where you can go locally for emergency support

You can make this evaluation via Ann Craft Trust here

2. Ensure your policies and procedures are up to date

Your business will already have a number of policies and procedures in place; safeguarding should be one of them.

You should be reviewing your policy annually, along with all other policies and procedures in your business. Ensuring all information is relevant.

It’s also a good idea to get any staff you employ or instructors who cover your classes to re-read these to refresh their knowledge too.

Don’t  have a safeguarding policy yet?

Ann Craft Trust have created a great resource of top tips for writing and implementing your policies and procedures. You can download these here.

Ann Craft Trust Safer Culture Listen Learn Lead

3. Set out roles and responsibilities

If a safeguarding incident happened, who would you report it to?

Who is the safeguarding lead for your business?

Who could you call in a safeguarding emergency?

These are questions you (and your team) should be able to answer and underpin how you can effectively respond to safeguarding issues.

A safeguarding lead officer is the person responsible for overseeing safeguarding policies and procedures. They are also the person who can deal with any concerns and incidents.

If you’re a team of one, then you will be the safeguarding lead officer. Ann Craft Trust has some great tips here on how you can be an empowered role model.

4. Create a safer culture

As a group exercise instructor, you want everyone who attends your classes to have the best possible experience. You want them to feel safe and leave feeling happy and positive. You want to offer them a space where they feel welcomed, where their concerns are listened to, and acted upon- known as a safer culture.

There are three elements that create a safer culture, as told by Ann Craft Trust:

  • Listen
    An environment where everyone is confident their concerns are welcomed, listened to and addressed appropriately.
  • Learn
    Where organisations encourage continuous learning and reflection at all levels. Applying this to improve and adapt.
  • Lead
    Organisations should lead by example to empower everyone with the confidence to challenge and instigate change.

5. Get support from the experts

The Ann Craft Trust is here to help you in safeguarding adults. They have 30 years’ experience in safeguarding and offer a range of resources.

Your local area will have a Safeguarding Adults Board. This is usually made up of the local authority council and different organisations to keep at risk adults safe at a local level.

If you’re working with children, get support, training and resources from the CPSU.

Download ‘An instructor’s guide to safeguarding’ resource

This resource has been specifically written for group exercise instructors. It includes information from CPSU, the Ann Craft Trust, and EMD UK. Find out how you can implement a positive safeguarding culture in your fitness business. Download it for free here.