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Camberwell Skylarks

Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults:

Policy and Procedures


This policy was approved by the committee on October 22nd.2019


Date of next review: April 2025




The Camberwell Skylarks believe that it is always unacceptable for a vulnerable adult to experience abuse of any kind and recognises its responsibility to safeguard the welfare of vulnerable adults by commitment to practice which protects them. Please note the Camberwell Skylarks is open to adults aged 18 years and over.


We recognise that:


  • The welfare of the vulnerable adult is paramount.

  • All vulnerable adults regardless of age, disability, gender reassignment, marital and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation, have the right to protection from all types of harm or abuse.

  • Working in partnership with vulnerable adults, their carers and other agencies is essential in promoting welfare.

  • We have a moral and statutory duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of participants. This document offers guidance and outlines procedures that should be followed in all cases of suspected abuse and situations of serious risk. It applies to all those who are considered to be ‘vulnerable adults’.

  • Safeguarding is everybody’s responsibility, and includes measures to prevent or minimise the risk of abuse of vulnerable adults occurring. This can be achieved by ensuring that appropriate support is provided with a clear package of care including a risk assessment.


Definition of vulnerable adult


A ‘vulnerable adult’ is a person aged 18 years or over who is, or may be, in need of community care services by reason of learning or other disability, age or illness, is unable to take care of him or herself, or unable to protect him or herself against significant harm or exploitation (Who decides? 1997 Lord Chancellor’s Department and ‘No Secrets’ 2000).


Whether or not a person is vulnerable will depend upon surrounding circumstances and/or environment. Each case is judged individually and on its own merits.


The purpose of this policy is:


To provide protection for the vulnerable adults who participate in Camberwell Skylarks and to provide staff and volunteers with guidance on procedures they should adopt in the event that they suspect a vulnerable adult may be experiencing, or be at risk of, serious harm.

This policy applies to all staff employed by Camberwell Sklyarks and volunteers.

We will seek to safeguard vulnerable adults by:


  • Valuing them, listening to and respecting them.

  • Adopting vulnerable adult protection guidelines through procedures and a code of conduct for Camberwell Skylarks staff.

  • Recruiting staff and volunteers safely, ensuring all necessary checks are made.

  • Sharing information about protection and good practice with vulnerable adults, their carers and staff.

  • Sharing information about concerns with agencies who need to know, and involving carers appropriately.

  • Providing effective management for staff through supervision, support and training.

  • Carrying out an annual review of our safeguarding policy and practice.


Definitions of abuse


Abuse and neglect are forms of maltreatment of an individual. Somebody may abuse or neglect a vulnerable adult by inflicting harm, or by failing to act to prevent harm. Vulnerable adults may be abused in a family or in an institutional or community setting by those known to them or, more rarely, by a stranger (for example, via the internet). They may be abused by an adult or adults.


Categories of abuse


Physical abuse


  • Physical abuse may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating, or otherwise causing physical harm.

  • Physical harm may also be caused when a carer fabricates the symptoms of, or deliberately induces, illness in a vulnerable adult.


Emotional abuse


  • Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional maltreatment of a vulnerable adult such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on their emotional wellbeing. It may involve conveying to vulnerable adults that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person. It may include not giving them opportunities to express their views, deliberately silencing them or making fun of what they say or how they communicate.

  • It may feature inappropriate expectations being imposed. These may include interactions that are beyond the person’s capability, as well as overprotection and limitation of experience or normal social interaction. It may involve seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another. It may involve serious bullying (including cyber bullying), causing vulnerable adults frequently to feel frightened or in danger; or their exploitation or corruption. Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of maltreatment, though it may occur alone.


Sexual abuse


  • Sexual abuse involves forcing a vulnerable adult to take part in sexual activities, not necessarily involving a high level of violence, whether or not they are aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including assault by penetration (for example, rape or oral sex) or non-penetrative acts such as masturbation, kissing, rubbing and touching outside of clothing.

  • They may also include non-contact activities, such as involving vulnerable adults in looking at, or in the production of, sexual images, watching sexual activities, encouraging them to behave in sexually inappropriate ways, or grooming them in preparation for abuse (including via the internet).




  • Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a vulnerable adult’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of their health or wellbeing. Neglect may involve a carer failing to:

  • provide adequate food, clothing and protect from physical and emotional harm or danger;

  • ensure adequate supervision (including the use of inadequate care-givers); or ensure access to appropriate medical care.

  • Neglect may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a vunerable adult’s basic emotional needs.


Other forms of abuse associated with vulnerable adults include: 


Financial Abuse

Includes theft, fraud, exploitation, the misuse of possessions or benefits and pressure applied in relation to financial transactions.


Discriminatory Abuse

Abuse based on a person’s disability, including harassment.


Effects of adult abuse

These are wide-ranging and profound. They vary accordingly to the type of abuse and how long it has been endured but can include:


  • behavioural problems

  • educational problems

  • mental health problems

  • relationship difficulties

  • drug and alcohol problems

  • suicide and self harm

  • in extreme cases, death following abuse.


In relation to vulnerable adults, the government sets out six key principles which apply to all sectors and settings:


  • Empowerment – People being supported and encouraged to make their own decisions and informed consent.

  • Prevention – It is better to take action before harm occurs.

  • Proportionality – The least intrusive response appropriate to the risk presented.

  • Protection – Support and representation for those in greatest need.

  • Partnership – Local solutions through services working with their communities. Communities have a part to play in preventing, detecting and reporting neglect and abuse.

  • Accountability – Accountability and transparency in delivering safeguarding.


Recognising Abuse


Physical signs that may indicate that someone is being, or has been, abused:

  • unexplained or suspicious injuries, particularly if such an injury is unlikely to have occurred accidentally

  • an injury for which the explanation appears inconsistent

  • bruising/burns/cigarette burns/fractures which are unexplainable

  • genital injuries/infections/bleeding or discomfort

  • sudden speech disorders, or changes in behaviour

  • constant hunger, stealing food, frequently dirty, smelly,

  • untreated medical conditions or lack of treatment for illness or injury


Behavioural signs that may indicate a vulnerable adult has been or is being abused:


  • inappropriate sexually explicit behaviour or language

  • the vulnerable adult appears distrustful of others

  • unexplained changes in behaviour

  • aggressive behaviour or severe temper outburst

  • running away, not wanting to go home

  • cover up clothing to hide injuries

  • flinching when approached,

  • depression, low mood, self harm, eating disorders

  • behaving increasingly secretively, possessing unexplained amounts of money, gifts

  • drug and alcohol abuse, suicide

  • excessive lack of confidence, need for approval, attention or affection

  • missing appointments, being continually late

  • difficulty forming relationships, no friends


The recognition of abuse is not easy and it is not the place of staff to make such a judgement. However, it is their responsibility to act on concerns in order to safeguard the welfare of the vulnerable adult. If you feel uneasy about something you have seen or heard which could be deemed to be abuse, seek advice from:


The Designated Person for Camberwell Skylarks is


Adam Chevin


Doing nothing is not an option.

In some cases of suspected abuse, carers must not be informed first - eg, if there is a risk of immediate harm or a carer is suspected of abuse.


Reasonable physical restraint to prevent a vulnerable adult from harming him or herself or another person, or from causing serious damage to property is not deemed to be abuse.


How to respond to a vulnerable adult telling you about abuse

There are some basic principles in reacting to suspicions, allegations, and/or disclosures (please see below).



What to do:

  • stay calm

  • listen, hear and believe

  • ask open ended clarification questions only

  • give the vulnerable adult time to say what they want

  • reassure and explain that they have done the right thing in telling.

  • Explain that only those people who need to know will be informed

  • act immediately in accordance with the procedure in this policy

  • record in writing as near verbatim as possible what was said as soon as you can

  • report to Julia Johnson and relevant contacts listed below

  • record the events in a report.


What not to do:

  • do not over-react. It is unlikely that the vulnerable adult is in immediate danger

  • do not probe for more information, questioning the vulnerable adult may affect how their disclosure is received at a later date

  • do not make assumptions, paraphrase and do not offer alternative explanations

  • do not promise confidentiality to keep secrets or that everything will be ok (it might not)

  • do not try to deal with it yourself

  • do not make negative comments about the alleged abuser

  • do not ‘gossip’ or disclose any information with colleagues about what has been said

  • do not make the vulnerable adult repeat the story unnecessarily


It is the duty of anyone who works with vulnerable adults to report a disclosure of abuse. It is not for staff to decide whether a suspicion or allegation is true. All suspicions or allegations must be taken seriously and dealt with according to this procedure. If the disclosure is made by a carer, you should follow the same procedure and refer to Ruth Brown at MIND and the relevant social care and police contacts listed below.




The Designated Person will inform the relevant outside organisation of the incident.

The Designated Person for Camberwell Skylarks is

Adam Chevin


Social Care




If you have concerns that a vulnerable adult is being subjected to abuse or neglect:

To tell Lambeth or Southwark about any concerns you have (known as 'raising a Safeguarding Alert') you can ring them on the numbers below.


In an emergency dial 999. If the person is not in danger now dial 101



(supporting  adults under the age of 65 with physical disabilities, and older people with physical disabilities or mental health problems)


Address: Phoenix House,

10 Wandsworth Road,

London SW8 2LL

Tel (Social Services Line): 0870 280 5830

Tel: 020 7926 5555 ( Main Lambeth line)






Southwark Adult Safeguarding Services

132 Queens Road


SE15 2JR

Tel: 020 7525 3324

For  adults with a physical or sensory disability and older people (65 years and above):

Reminders for staff

  • No member of staff should give their personal phone numbers, or home address.

  • All members of staff must have a current DBS certificate.


Signed ……………………………………… Date …………………………


Appendix 1 Notification Form: click on icon below


This form is to be used to report all suspicions or allegations of abuse or a serious incident and is to be sent to the nominated Vunerable Adult Protection Officer as soon as possible. (Use additional pages if necessary).


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