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How our partner Neighbors Together began their safeguarding journey

Child Safeguarding / Housing and Homelessness Programme / Partner story

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

The work of many organisations may not focus directly on children or families, but have contact with them (e.g. when children accompany their parents to public meetings). Neighbors Together, a Housing and Homelessness Programme partner based in New York, describes its experience of developing safeguarding policies and interacting with Oak partner Keeping Children Safe:

“Our senior management team was a bit reluctant to attend the training given by Keeping Children Safe. The idea of removing ourselves from our work for three days to learn about safeguarding practices for a population we believed we did not really serve seemed unnecessary and time-consuming. However, we took the plunge and our attitudes quickly shifted within the first hour of training!

Stepping back from our day-to-day work at Neighbors Together, we were able to acknowledge that while the vast majority of people who walk through our doors are adults, it is also true that children do frequent our facility on a regular basis, usually accompanied by their parents or primary caretakers for meals and access to social services.  We also identified youth who were volunteering in our emergency food programme, and noted that children of staff members and board members visit our space on numerous occasions throughout the year.

After completing the training, we concluded that implementing safety practices and protocols to proactively protect children from harm is a necessary step for Neighbors Together. The training also encouraged us and all other organisations to develop greater sensitivity around how we publicize our work, specifically our use of children’s images on our pamphlets, website and social media sites.

The Child Safeguarding training was highly informative and thought-provoking.  If possible, we would have participated in even a few more days of training! We came back to Neighbors Together with clear recommendations for how we can institute policies across all levels of our organisation that will protect young people.

We thank Keeping Children Safe for the encouragement to reassess and revise the culture of our organisation and include a more preventative approach to protect one of the most vulnerable populations in our society – children who hold the keys and the hopes for our future.”