In accordance with our Safeguarding Policy and Procedures, all major concerns pertaining to the below topics are recorded and investigated, and appropriate action is taken. These matters are led by Neil Holman and Ruth Kennell, Designated Safeguarding Officers at SOFEA. To contact Neil or Ruth with a safety-related issue or inquiry, please email Neil@sofea.uk.com or Ruth@sofea.uk.com.
We are committed to creating a safe environment from which to support people to make a deep connection with themselves and their community. We do this by treating all members of our community with equal compassion and respect and accepting them as they are.
Democracy and individual liberty at SOFEA:
voice is heard equally, as individuals have agency to speak for themselves and
as behavior putting others’ freedom at risk is challenged and addressed
- Individuals have the right of choice, and our decision making is not arbitrary
- We engage with council consultation exercises at Town, District and County level interacting frequently with elected representatives to seek ways of increasing representation of young people in their local communities, and working to remove barriers to promote economic and social freedoms
Rule of Law at SOFEA:
We support individuals involved in the criminal justice system; protecting young people and children from illegal acts; supporting young people, volunteers and staff with their interactions with other organs of the state; and, upholding Health and Safety and Food Safety laws in the working environment.
We believe that people of different faiths or beliefs should be should be accepted and tolerated, and should not be the cause of prejudicial or discriminatory behaviour. We emphasize the importance of identifying and combatting discrimination by:
- Challenging stereotyped or offensive views
- Participating in a therapeutic group to understand others
- Respecting others’ beliefs and rituals, especially of individuals fasting within our food enterprise
Within this, SOFEA provides a safe space devoted to listening – where needs are not only heard, but understood and responded to. We operate in a non-hierarchical structure, where authority is determined by expertise and skill, not position or power.
SOFEA’s trainees are accompanied by a member of our staff at all times while on-site, including during lunch and break times, to ensure their general safety and wellbeing. This ongoing contact encourages an atmosphere of trust and honesty, so that trainees feel comfortable raising concerns with us, related to events on or off-site.
Protocols in the event
of on-site violence
There are designated members of staff who are able to de-escalate and intervene on the rare occasions of violence. In the case of an extreme situation we would immediately call the police or Emergency Services. Fortunately, in more than four years operating, we have never faced a situation of this kind.
Our personal safety and relationships course
All of our trainees undertake a year-long personal safety and relationships course, covering:
- Awareness and education about risky behaviours in self and others (i.e. casual sex, drug taking, financial exploitation)
- Healthy and unhealthy relationships and friendships (possessiveness, domestic abuse)
- Personal sexual safety (safe relationships, grooming, consensual sex, STDs)
- Education on extremism and associated behaviours to do with radicalization, from the National government program PREVENT.
- Education of personal Internet safety (dating websites, social media, grooming etc.)
Besides the PREVENT modules, this program is largely developed by SOFEA, but is also part of a collaboration with the charity Sexpressions, where we teach their courses on Consent, Mental Health and Body Image and Healthy Relationships.
Once a week we bring all trainees together to openly discuss any topics on their minds, including opinions and feelings they have around current issues. We take this opportunity to raise awareness about personal safety while travelling, and to learn about any immediate or new concerns on this topic.
In case of concern
Particularly vulnerable trainees are supported to the extent they may be accompanied to public transportation by a member of SOFEA staff, and we coordinate with their family to ensure they’re met at the other end of their journey.
In a case where parents or immediate family members cannot assist, we work with carers or other involved agencies to ensure a safe journey to and from our doors.
We provide support and protection to all our young people around complex issues related to drugs and alcohol misuse.
- Reinforce that the decision not to use drugs is a wise one
- Stop or delay the onset of experimental drug use
- Educate young drug users
We have seen notable reductions in our trainees’ drug use over time, we believe due in large part to our drug education programme. We have also seen improved decision making
overall, that leads to almost all our trainees moving on successfully into work, education or volunteering.
Our anti-substance abuse programme
We teach a sophisticated and structured drug education programme that everyone participates in. If any member of the community has specific concerns, we contact the parents/ guardians or any other agency appropriate to discuss the issue.
Dealing with people under the influence
- People under the influence are not welcome on-site, where they may pose a danger to themselves or others.
- If we suspect a young person is under the influence of drugs or alcohol at any time, where it is safe and wise to do so, we contact their home and ask that they leave for the day. In cases where they cannot be sent home, we conduct a risk assessment and keep them safe in an office space on-site, under supervision until such point they can be collected.
- Such individuals are welcome back to the community when not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and upon their return, dedicated staff work intensively to provide support.
- Our expectations would be clear that we would not expect it to happen again. In the case of repeat offenses, we assess the safety of the individual and community on a case by case basis to tailor the most appropriate response.
Drug dealing at SOFEA (this applies to all involved parties)
- We would inform police of the activity
- We would contact home and send the young person(s) home immediately.
- We would invite the individual(s) involved (and parents where appropriate) to return and discuss the situation
- We would ensure there was intensive support in place to help the individual(s)
Many organisations would all together remove a young person abusing or dealing substances from the community with immediate effect and have no further contact with that individual. We feel this is detrimental to the young person because it deprives them of access to the support they need in order to make better decisions and make positive changes. Our support provides an otherwise unavailable opportunity to make those changes and see them benefit the individual, SOFEA as a whole and, in the long-run – our community.
We feel that managing the situation at SOFEA – together, shows our community how to face the topic and work through it. This is good training for life! We will from time to time come across difficult situations and have to make hard choices. If we have not had practice, we have few strategies and less chance of success.
Another benefit is our sending a message of non-judgment and that we care enough to work with people to help them solve problems, rather than cast them out because of them. Everyone needs help at times, and the community at SOFEA enables us all to pull together to support those in need.
Many of our trainees have difficulty making and sustaining friendships. Because many of them are vulnerable, they can, at times, be led into behaviours and/or actions that are not safe, as they attempt to make and keep friends.
Open communication with our trainees, supported by strong vigilance for signs of inappropriate behavior is one way we can offer protection. Careful observation and listening and asking questions about how they spend their free time, and with whom, keeps us connected in a way that allows us to help them make and maintain safe friendships and relationships, whether they are face-to-face or online.
In addition, our CAMHS team and Behavioural Change facilitator are always available to support in situations where intervention of some kind may be needed. Time and again we have seen trainees demonstrate trust in our ability to support them without judgment either through a simple conversation, or a more immersive exercise – such as a course which to raise awareness and help with decision making (e.g. Understanding Drug Use, Self-Advocacy).
Additionally, all trainees are made aware of online safety during their induction at SOFEA and are encouraged to talk openly about any upsetting or suspicious messages or items that they see online or receive through social media.
Where there are concerns for a trainee’s wellbeing or safety with regard to face-to-face, online or social media activity, we talk to parents/carers or other agencies, and we involve the police if appropriate.
This Acceptable Usage Policy covers the security and use of all SOFEA’s information and IT equipment. It also includes the use of email, internet, voice and mobile IT equipment. This policy applies to all SOFEA’s employees, contractors and agents.
This policy applies to all information, in whatever form, relating to SOFEA’s activities, and to all information handled by SOFEA relating to other organisations with whom it deals. It also covers all IT and information communications facilities operated by SOFEA or on its behalf. Click here to access the full policy.