Wolves Foundation are once again incorporating football’s national Play Safe campaign to highlight its commitment to the importance of safeguarding within the national game.
Play Safe takes place over the weekend of 1st October, aiming to drive greater awareness of the safeguarding practice and culture within football clubs, and is particularly focused this year on the role of parents and carers.
Wolves and Wolves Foundation remain committed to openly highlighting safeguarding policies and procedures and ensuring participants know how and where to report any issues in complete confidence.
The club recently staged its first designated Safeguarding Week to try and raise the profile of how Wolves support and keep children, young people and vulnerable adults safe when engaging with the club.
This included sending daily content to every member of staff around topics including developing a listening culture, spotting signs of gang-related activity, potential pitfalls of social media and the importance of regular scrutiny.
Whilst safeguarding is of course hugely important all the year around, and for all participants whether as individuals or in a group, areas within the Foundation which are of particular relevance include the football teams which the club’s official charity regularly fields in various competitions.
This includes the BTEC football academy run in conjunction with the City of Wolverhampton College, and the Disability set-up, boasting several teams across adults, under-16 and under-12 age groups.
Luke Shearing is the Foundation’s inclusion & cohesion manager, heading up the department which runs the Disability teams operating in the Staffordshire Ability Counts League.
“Within the Foundation we have a code of conduct to be followed by all players, parents and staff, which includes information about safeguarding and the relevant contact information for if it is needed,” said Luke.
“If any participant has a problem or issue they know they can report it in complete confidence to the coach and that it will then be passed on to the appropriate person.
“We have worked hard on creating a positive safeguarding culture over several years and I would be confident in saying that if any of the players were asked what they needed to do in a certain situation, they would have all that information.”
Brad Moore is a senior education officer with the Foundation, overseeing the BTEC programme which includes not just theory and practical training but also weekly fixtures and enrichment opportunities.
“We collaborate very closely with the City of Wolverhampton College’s safeguarding team to ensure all procedures are followed, including involving parents and carers, so that our students are able to really enjoy the course but also feel comfortable in speaking up if have any issues,” said Brad.
“We want all of our students to have a really positive experience of their link-up with the Foundation and the College and being open and highlighting a strong safeguarding culture is a key part of that approach.”
Foundation senior manager (operations) Lee Smith has overall responsibility for safeguarding within Wolves Foundation, working closely with the club’s head of safeguarding, Lisa Carter.
“As a Foundation, we take our safeguarding responsibilities extremely seriously all the year around, but the recent campaign led by the club, and the Play Safe weekend taking place across football, are really important initiatives,” said Lee.
“Raising awareness is vital in reinforcing the policies and procedures which are followed by our staff, but also in offering a reminder that everyone has a responsibility for safeguarding, including parents and carers.
“From our point of view, being a Foundation which delivers projects in the local community, the importance of safeguarding is embedded into us on a day-to-day basis.
“We want there to be an expectancy for anyone attending a Foundation session, or for parents sending their children, to know that the highest level of professionalism and safeguarding provision is always in place.”
Play Safe weekend is officially supported by the NSPCC as well as the Premier League, EFL, Barclays Women’s Super League and Barclays Women’s Championship, and is also being backed by every other level of the game across England.
FA head of safeguarding Sue Ravenlaw said: “As adults it’s essential that we all work together – including with parents/carers – to create positive football settings where children thrive and feel confident to speak up if they are not feeling OK.
“Backing the Play Safe campaign gives clubs and leagues a particular moment, early in the season, to talk with parents/carers, players, coaches, managers, first aiders and spectators and reinforce their safeguarding practice and what’s expected of everyone involved.”
The FA’s Survivor Support and Safeguarding Advisory Group (FASSSAG) have also put together a free online safeguarding course for parents and carers. Click here to take a look.