The East Kent Buddhist Group aspires to welcome and be inclusive of all adults aged 18 and over, irrespective of ethnicity, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, neurodiversity and disability. Do bear in mind our events are not therapeutic environments and our team are not able to offer mental health support. Our single sex events are open to all gender identities pertaining to that gender and we ask everyone to be open to a wider definition of gender. If you have any queries, please get in touch.
Triratna East Kent Buddhist Group Safeguarding Adults Policy 2020 (revised March 2023)
Deal Buddhist Group: 1 Palmerston Court Lord, Warden Avenue Deal, Kent CT14 7JU
Registered charity no: 1188543
Web address: www.eastkentbuddhistgroup.org
Triratna is a worldwide network of friends in the Buddhist life. This is for many of us a source of great richness, support and strength.
However, it also carries a risk that we may fail to notice, question or act on behaviours of concern, out of naivety, loyalty to friends or lack of awareness; or an assumption that “it couldn’t happen here” or “they would never do a thing like that.”
This policy is an expression of the first ethical precept taught by the Buddha: to avoid harming living beings. It refers to law and good practice mainly in England and Wales.
The purpose of this policy
This document is for Friends, Mitras and Order members involved in East Kent Buddhist Group’s activities (and those of any outreach groups run by this group) as employees, volunteers, leaders, teachers or parents.
It aims to provide
Protection for adults attending East Kent Buddhist Group’s activities, including those who may be “at risk” or vulnerable, and protection for Friends, Mitras and Order members working with them. It sets out information and practices contributing to the prevention of harm to adults andwhat to do if harm is suspected.
Our activities include meditation classes, Sangha evenings and retreats for adults over the age of 18. Although we do not run activities specifically for those with mental illness or addiction, we recognise that people who may be vulnerable in these ways do attend our events and take part in the life of our sangha.
The trustees of East Kent Buddhist Group recognise their responsibility to safeguard adults, including those who may be deemed to be “at risk” or “vulnerable”, visiting or involved in East Kent Buddhist Group activities, as set out by the Charity Commission in its latest guidance:https://www.gov.uk/guidance/safeguarding-duties-for-charity- trustees
Dayapakshini is our Safeguarding officer. They are responsible for co-ordinating the protection of adults at East Kent Buddhist Group. If Dayapakshini is unavailable, Prajnasisya, as Chair, is the contact person.
Dayaspakshini’s and Prajnasisya’s names and contact details are on all information sent out regarding the group’s activities.
Dayapakshini is our Safeguarding trustee. They are responsible for making sure Safeguarding is taken seriously by the trustees and appears regularly on their agendas, ensuring the trustees comply with their Safeguarding obligations as required by the Charity Commission.
Who is an “adult”?
In the United Kingdom an “adult” is a person who has passed their 18th birthday.
We have a general duty of care to prevent or address harm to adults in the course of our activities, including adults who may be defined as “vulnerable” or “at risk”.
Who is an “adult at risk”?
This is not currently well defined.
However, the following is one widely-used definition:
A person aged 18 or over, who needs, or may need, community care services because they are frail or have a learning disability, physical disability, sight or hearing disability or mental health issues; and cannot (or may not be able to) care for themselves, or take steps to protect themselves from significant harm or exploitation.
Adults who may be ‘at risk’ may also include those who:
have learning disabilities
have mental health problems
have drug, alcohol or substance dependency
have physical or sensory disabilities
have been bereaved, suffered grief and loss
through age or illness are dependent on other people to help them
live with domestic abuse
are refugees or asylum seekers and for any reason may be considered not to have ‘mental capacity’. (See below.)
Whether or not a person is “at risk” or “vulnerable” in these cases will vary according to circumstances, and it should be noted that a person with a physical disability is not necessarily vulnerable or at risk, though they could be. Each case must be judged on its own merits.
What is ‘mental capacity’?
Whether a person has mental capacity is a matter of specialist assessment and not for us to make.
However, it may be useful to know something about it.
Mental capacity is the ability to make a particular decision. An adult may be at risk if they are unable to make a decision due to illness, disability, poor mental health, dementia, a learning disability or something else that may impair their judgment.
A person may be deemed to be ‘without capacity’ if they cannot:
understand the decision
retain the information
weigh up the information
communicate their decision about matters such as finance, social care or medical treatment.
Vulnerability can be variable
As is made clear above in the reference to the vulnerability of those who have suffered grief and loss we recognise that many people who are generally emotionally and psychologically stable in most aspects of their lives may on occasion find themselves vulnerable or at risk.
This may be because of illness, relationship breakdown or bereavement, or because their practice of meditation or Buddhism has made them more sensitive and self-aware, particularly if they are new to Buddhism.
For example, we will bear in mind that a person who is emotionally vulnerable for any reason may not be able to make balanced decisions regarding giving money or becoming more involved with Triratna, or entering into intimate relationships, whether friendship or relationships which are more romantic or sexual in nature. We will take great care to help each other avoid exploiting people in such everyday situations of vulnerability.
Protecting those with psychological disorders
We are aware that those attending our centre and activities include adults experiencing psychological disorders ranging from mild to severe.
We recognise that as Buddhists we do not have the professional skills to diagnose or help people with psychological disorders and that they may not be helped solely by the kindness of Buddhists. In such cases we may need to advise them to seek professional help.
We are aware that for people with serious psychological disorders traditional Buddhist practices involving recognition of the illusion of self could be extremely dangerous. We may need to encourage them in traditional Buddhist practices involving the calming of body and mind, or to avoid meditation – altogether, or during periods of relapse.
Where we believe a person to be at risk of suicide or self-harm, or to pose a risk to others, we will alert our centre Safeguarding officer, who will refer to local mental health services and/or the police as appropriate, and consult with the Triratna Safeguarding Team if necessary: firstname.lastname@example.org
Protecting those with psychological disorders - online
Buddhism and meditation are increasingly taught using online media. In person, it is relatively easy to notice where a person may have compromised mental health; online it is much more difficult.
We recognise that among those seeking individual online guidance from members of the Triratna Buddhist Order there may be some reporting meditation experiences which are an indication of serious psychological disorder.
In engaging in individual guidance online by email, blog, social media or text we will take great care at the start to establish with local Order members the identity, location and suitability of the participant, and which local Order members are available locally to support them in person and gaining permission to contact those Order members if we believe they are at risk. (This does not apply where the participant is an Order member and therefore well known to us.)
Responding to children online
With anyone under 18, we will not engage in personal communication online or via social media except in carefully defined ways.This is covered in Triratna’s general Child protection Policy 2020.
DBS checks /security checks
As rules on eligibility for DBS checks are complicated and change from time to time, our Safeguarding officer will check annually with external Safeguarding experts such as Thirtyoneeight (www.thirtyoneeight.org) to ensure that anyone required to have an Enhanced DBS check or Enhanced DBS (with check of barred registers) has been checked. Any DBS certificate should be less than five years old.
The core team (Mitras or Order members, paid or voluntary) directly responsible for any East Kent Buddhist Group activity or event specifically intended and advertised for adults likely to be more vulnerable to influence, exploitation or mistreatment must have an Enhanced DBS check with check of barred registers.
At present we do not run any such activities but will keep this under review in case this should change. We will require anyone helping with such activities (paid or voluntary) who has not been DBS checked
to be supervised at all times by someone who is DBS checked.
This does not apply to those running general activities which an adult with mental health difficulties (for example) may happen to attend.
Managing those who pose a risk to others
There are cases where it is known that a person attending our activities is likely to pose a risk to others (for example, a person who is known to have a previous criminal conviction for sexual or other violent offences, or someone who is under investigation for possible sexual or other violent offences).
Such a person will be asked by the Safeguarding officer to negotiate a behaviour contract setting out the terms of their continued participation in East Kent Buddhist Group activities within agreedboundaries.
Where it is felt that the charity does not have the resources to manage this relationship safely, we reserve the right to ask the person not to attend our activities.
Live Online Events - on Zoom or other:
A ‘breakout group’ during an online event should always consist of more than two persons. It is the responsibility of the leader of the event to take all reasonable precautions to ensure that this is the case, bearing in mind that a breakout group may be allocated for more than two people, but that someone may log off at this point, leaving only two people in the group.
Our Safeguarding responsibility to our landlord(s)
East Kent Buddhist Group rents premises belonging to:
Sholden Parish Hall, Sholden New Rd, Deal, CT14 0AH (Registered Charity No. 302829)
It also rents premises belonging to:
The Pilates Shed, 98-102 High Street, Deal, CT14 6EE.
Friends Meeting House 6 The Friars, Canterbury CT1 2AS.
We have shown them our Safeguarding Policy.
We also occasionally rent rooms from:
The Golf Rd Centre, 28 Golf Rd, Deal, CT14 6PY (Reg. Charity No. 1163274 - North Deal Community Company Ltd)
The Landmark Centre, 129 High St, Deal, CT14 6BB
On the occasions we rent from them, or any other venue we might use, we will show them our Safeguarding Policy.
What is ‘abuse’?
‘Abuse’ is not a legal term, but covers a number of ways in which a person may be deliberately harmed (legally or illegally), usually by someone who is in a position of power, trust or authority over them, or who may be perceived by that person to be in a position of power, trust or authority over them; for example by a Friend, Mitra or Order member who is helping to run East Kent Buddhist Group activities for those newer to such activities. The harm may be physical, psychological or emotional, or it may exploit the vulnerability of the person in more subtle ways.
However, harm can also occur less consciously, through naivety, idealism or lack of awareness.
Types of abuse
The 2014 Care Act identifies nine types of abuse, all of which have a psychological/emotional aspect:
neglect and acts of omission
financial or material abuse
Types of abuse, in more detail: Physical/Sexual
Bodily assaults resulting in injuries e.g. hitting, slapping, pushing, kicking, misuse of medication, restraint or inappropriate sanctions.
Bodily impairment e.g. malnutrition, dehydration, failure to thrive.
Rape, incest, acts of indecency, sexual assault.
Sexual harassment or sexual acts to which the person has not consented, or could not consent or to which they were pressured into consenting.
Sexual abuse might also include exposure to pornographic materials, beingmade to witness sexual acts; also sexual harassment, with or without physical contact.
Sexual contact of any kind with anyone under 16 is a crime.
In the case of Order members “position of trust” law means sexual contact of any kind with anyone under 18 could be considered a crime.
Abuse through neglect
Ignoring medical or physical care needs.
Failure to provide access to appropriate health, social care or educational service.
The withholding of the necessities of life, such as medication, adequate nutritionand heating.
Neglect or abuse within an institution (eg. hospital/care home) or care provided in own home.
One-off incident or continuing ill-treatment.
Poor professional practice, policies or structure of an organization.
Examples: working as housemaids, in brothels, cannabis farms, nail bars and agriculture against their will, unpaid
Some possible signs:
Physical appearance, inappropriate clothing.
Isolation, not being allowed to travel alone; restricted freedom of movement.
Poor living conditions, few possessions, no ID documents
Unusual travel times – being dropped off early morning or late at night
Modern Slavery Helpline (UK) 0800 0121 700
Physical, psychological, sexual and financial abuse.
‘Honour’-based violence or forced marriage.
Involving intimate partner or family member.
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
16 year-olds can be defined as suffering domestic abuse.
Some signs and symptoms of domestic abuse
Visible injuries or unexplained marks, scars or injuries.
Making ‘excuses’ for injuries.
Controlling and/or threatening relationships.
Discrimination including gender, sexual orientation, race, disability, age, skin colour, language,culture, religion or belief, or politics.
Loss of self-esteem.
Not being able to access services or being excluded.
Financial or material abuse
Misuse or theft of money.
Exploitation, pressure in connection with wills, property or inheritance.
Unexplained withdrawal of large sums of money.
Personal possessions going missing from home.
Extraordinary interest and involvement by the family/carer or friend in an individual’s assets.
Threats of harm, controlling, intimidation, coercion,harassment, verbal abuse, enforced isolation or withdrawal from services or supportive networks.
Bullying, shouting or swearing.
Signs of abuse
Physical (& Sexual included)
NB Ageing processes can cause changes which are hard to distinguish from some aspects of physical assault e.g. skin bruising can occur due to blood vessels becoming fragile.
A history of unexplained falls or minor injuries.
Bruising in well-protected areas, or clustered from repeated striking.
Burns of unusual location or type.
Injuries found at different states of healing.
Injury shape similar to an object.
Injuries to head/face/scalp.
History of moving from doctor to doctor, or between social care agencies; reluctance to seek help.
Accounts which vary with time or are inconsistent with physical evidence.
Weight loss due to malnutrition; or rapid weight gain.
Ulcers, bed sores and being left in wet clothing.
Drowsiness due to too much medication; or lack of medication causing recurring crises/hospital admissions.
Disclosure or partial disclosure (use of phrases such as ‘It’s a secret’).
Medical problems, e.g. genital infections, pregnancy, difficulty walking or sitting.
Disturbed behaviour e.g. depression, sudden withdrawal from activities, loss of previous skills, sleeplessness or nightmares, self-injury, showing fear or aggression to one particular person, inappropriately seductive behaviour, loss of appetite or difficulty in keeping food down.
Unusual circumstances, such as, for example, two people found in a toilet/bathroom area, one of them distressed.
Signs of psychological or emotional vulnerability
Unkempt, unwashed appearance; smell.
Withdrawnness, agitation, anxiety; not wanting to be touched.
Change in appetite.
Insomnia or need for excessive sleep.
Unexplained paranoia; excessive fears.
Signs of neglect
Poor physical condition.
Clothing in poor condition.
Untreated injuries or medical problems.
Failure to be given prescribed medication.
Poor personal hygiene.
Signs of financial or material vulnerability
Unexplained or sudden inability to pay bills.
Unexplained or sudden withdrawal of money from accounts.
Disparity between assets and satisfactory living conditions.
Unusual level of interest by family members and other people in the vulnerable person’s financial assets.
Signs of discrimination
Lack of respect shown to an individual.
Substandard service offered to an individual.
Exclusion from rights afforded to others, such as health, education, criminal justice.
Other signs of abuse
Inappropriate use of restraint.
Sensory deprivation e.g. spectacles or hearing aid.
Denial of visitors or phone calls.
Failure to ensure privacy or personal dignity.
Lack of personal clothing or possessions.
People who might abuse
Abuse may happen anywhere and may be carried out by anyone, eg:
Order members, Mitras and Friends, whether financially supported or volunteering.
People you consider good and trusted friends.
Informal carers, family, friends, neighbours.
Strangers or visitors to East Kent Buddhist Group.
If you have a concern
All allegations or suspicions should be taken seriously and reported to East Kent Buddhist Group’s Safeguarding officer: Dayapakshini
What to do if an adult alleges abuse
appear shocked, horrified, disgusted or angry.
press the individual for details.
make comments or judgments other than to show concern. Your responsibility is to take them seriously, not to decide whether what they are saying is true.
promise to keep secrets.
confront the alleged perpetrator.
risk contaminating the evidence by investigating matters yourself.
What to do next
reassure the person they are doing the right thing by telling you.
clarify issues of confidentiality early on. Make it clear that you may have to discuss their concerns with others, on a strictly need-to-know basis, if at all possible with their permission. (See below.)
explain what you are going to do.
write a factual account of what you have seen and heard, immediately.
Your first concern is the safety and wellbeing of the person bringing the allegation. Do not be distracted from this by loyalty to the person who has been accused or your desire to maintain the good name of Triratna or your centre.
If you are not the Safeguarding officer, tell the Safeguarding officer only. They will co-ordinate the handling of the matter on behalf of the charity’s trustees. However, if this is not possible and you think the person is in immediate danger phone social services or police straight away. A telephone referral should be confirmed in writing within 24 hours.
If necessary, the Safeguarding officer should contact the Triratna Safeguarding team for advice as to what to do next: email@example.com
Who else needs to know?
Every person has a legal right to privacy under the International Convention on Human Rights and data protection legislation; therefore if possible you need to get the person’s consent to share the information they have given you, within the limits described here and below.
However, if necessary it is legal to pass on information without their consent if you believe they are at risk of significant harm.
Meanwhile, make detailed factual notes about the conversation/concern/incident as soon as possible, including time, date and location. Give them to the Safeguarding officer. (See ‘Secure, confidential record-keeping’ below.)
No Sangha member should attempt to investigate a criminal allegation. This is the job of the police and to attempt this could prejudice a court case and put the person in danger.
Finally, if the allegation may be criminal, without giving personal details of those involved you should email the Charity Commission that there has been a serious Safeguarding incident, that your charity has addressed it according to your Safeguarding policies and the police have been informed.
Confidentiality, sharing information only on a need-to-know basis, is very important.
Under data protection legislation nobody has a right to know about the matter – except, for Safeguarding purposes, with those in a position to prevent further harm, and your Chair(s), who hold(s) ultimate responsibility for the governance of the charity.
For example, where there is a criminal allegation against a Mitra it would be justifiable for the Safeguarding officer, Chair and Mitra convenor to know about it. Normally it is illegal to share personal information about a person without that person’s permission in writing; however, where there are Safeguarding concerns, it may be necessary, and therefore legally justifiable, to report without consent, for the prevention of harm.
This is not a matter of concealment but is intended to protect all concerned from further harm. It will also protect your Sangha from fear, rumour and disharmony which will make it much harder to deal with the matter effectively without causing further harm.
Secure, confidential record-keeping
We understand our responsibility for secure and careful record-keeping.
Our Safeguarding officer will keep a detailed log of all Safeguarding-related incidents as well as conversations, actions and the reasoning behind them. These can be stored on the charity’s computer, only if in a password- protected section accessible only to the Safeguarding officer and one or two others approved by our trustees.
If this is not practicable, we will keep them on an external hard drive or memory stick. To guard against loss in case the files, hard drive or memory stick become corrupted these can be backed up to another hard drive or memory stick and/or printed off. Any such memory sticks, hard drives and paper copies will be stored in a locked cabinet, box or drawer accessible only to the Safeguarding officer and one or two others approved by our trustees. We understand that such records must not be stored on individuals’ own private computers.
We also understand that under data protection law we need to word our records in a form we would be happy for the subjects to read if they ask to, as is their legal right. This means notes should be factual and respectful, free of interpretations and value-judgements.
Keeping confidential records
We understand that because many abuse cases come to light 30 or more years later our insurers may require us to keep our logs for up to 50 years. (This is a requirement of the UK’s Buddhist Insurance Scheme.)
If our charity closes down, we will give our records to another Triratna Buddhist centre/charity to keep with their own confidential Safeguarding logs.
Reviewing our policies annually
All our Safeguarding policies will be reviewed by the Trustees and Safeguarding Officer annually and the review recorded in the minutes of their meetings.
East Kent Buddhist Group Chair's name and email address: Prajnasisya, firstname.lastname@example.org
Safeguarding officer's name and email address: Dayapakshini, email@example.com
Safeguarding officer's signature
This document will be reviewed annually by the Safeguarding Officer and Trustees of East Kent Buddhist Group.
Published by the trustees of East Kent Buddhist Group.
This policy is based on the model document published March 2020 by the Triratna Safeguarding team, part of the Triratna Ethics Kula. firstname.lastname@example.org