Saturday 21 Nov
Updated Saturday 21 Nov 13:30

Hammers support Safeguarding Adults Awareness week


The West Ham United Foundation runs over 30 programmes across the local community, with people at the heart of our outreach. Everything we do is underpinned by our core values of: integrity, inclusivity, continuously improving, collaborating and inspiring. 

Everyone at the Foundation works tirelessly to put the best policies, procedures and frameworks in place to ensure all programmes are fully inclusive and participants are helped in fulfilling their potential, whilst also limiting risks and challenges along the way. 

The past week has been Safeguarding Adults Awareness Week, with each day focusing on a different theme of safeguarding. Today’s theme sees the awareness focused on Safeguarding in Adults in Sport and Activity. To mark this, and Anti-Bullying Week which has run alongside it, the Foundation’s Safeguarding Co-ordinator, Sarah Lancaster, has outlined how the Foundation works to ensure all participants are safe and supported both on and off the pitch… 

It is important, that as an organisation we put people at the centre of all we do, by promoting rights, choices, dignity and diversity. Some of the ways we uphold these values are by working cohesively as a team and having an expectation that safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility. 

The safeguarding landscape within Professional Sport has grown and expanded over recent years and there is a real commitment from Senior Leaders and Trustees that cascades down to all staff, volunteers and students to ensure we are creating a safe, inclusive environment for all to thrive. 

One of the things I love about being a Safeguarding Practitioner, is how far-reaching this area of work is and that our responsibility is not only around ensuring as an organisation we are meeting our legal requirements, but it is also around using our brand to influence and provide opportunities to those we support in the local community, to help them stay safe. 

We offer some fantastic programmes, such as Stop the Hate, which is delivered in partnership with Show Racism the Red Card, in local schools and supports a wider PSHE curriculum. We also work closely with our local Community Resilience Officer around raising awareness of the PREVENT strategy and we have built up close relationships with SHINE to provide sexual health advice and support.  

Throughout our programmes there is an element of pastoral support that is a core part of delivery, whether it is within our traineeships, apprenticeships, Learning Academy or Premier League Primary Stars, the safeguarding and wellbeing undertone is embedded throughout.  Safeguarding and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) runs across the whole organisation and we recognise the importance of moulding an integrated safeguarding and wellbeing service that looks to provide bespoke and innovative pastoral care strategies. 

We have developed creative relationships with key stakeholders, such as the Metropolitan Police, Youth Offending Team, Local Authorities and Education providers to ensure we are able to provide holistic support that is responsive to local demands and needs. We have recently launched a referral pathway with the Metropolitan Police to offer positive diversionary activities for young people who are vulnerable to criminal activity or exploitation.  

We take our duty to safeguard the wellbeing of everyone seriously, which is why we offer comprehensive training opportunities to all our staff around core safeguarding themes and embed mandatory training within our quarterly staff CPD events. We follow strict safer recruitment procedures that ensure those we employ are suitable to work with children and young people. We have implemented a Safeguarding Strategy that identifies key objectives for the next four years and we have developed a Safeguarding Steering Group to report directly to our CEO and Board of Trustees. 

Within the organisation we have robust reporting procedures and policies around the management of safeguarding and wellbeing matters, and this allows us to respond diligently and transparently. 

By following our safeguarding procedures, it allows us to provide our participants, parents, staff and volunteers with confidence that we are operating in a safe and inclusive way. It gives us important foundations to then build a fun, enjoyable atmosphere where we can celebrate individuality and really make a difference to those we work with. This area of work is so important to not only me, but everyone that works at the West Ham United Foundation, as seeing our participants engaging, building on their future aspirations and ambitions, improving their social skills and providing them with a safe space to do all this, is something we take great pride in.

To find out more about the 30+ programmes run by the West Ham United Foundation, please email [email protected]