With the recent media coverage surrounding historic sexual abuse of children in youth football, groups in the Western Isles are being reminded of the need to have Child Protection policies and procedures in place.

The responsibility to develop such policies sits with the individual groups, clubs or associations themselves. This is required to ensure that children participating in youth groups across the Outer Hebrides can do so in a safe, protected environment.

Consequently, the Outer Hebrides Child Protection Committee is now offering to meet with any groups seeking guidance in respect of Child Protection protocols, whilst also providing the opportunity for their committee members, staff and volunteers to take advantage of the free of charge, multi-agency child protection training. Whilst it is acknowledged that many sport or leisure activities have accredited national overseeing bodies that offer comprehensive guidance and bespoke training, many small enterprises do not have this advantage. The following arrangements require to be established in all such groups.

· A named contact for the co-ordination of child protection
· A child protection policy and code of conduct to reflect national guidelines for working with children and young people
· Access to appropriate child protection training
· A procedure for recruitment and selection of those who work with children and young people – both employed and volunteers, including access to PVG scheme membership (Protecting Vulnerable Groups) checks where appropriate
· A procedure for responding to concerns about the welfare or abuse of children

Gordon McKay, the Comhairle’s Coordinator and Development Officer for Child Protection said: “Over recent months we have made significant headway in terms of accessing youth groups in the Outer Hebrides. Examples include a training event with Lochs Football Club where 12 young coaches underwent a general workforce training delivery.

“What we want to avoid is discouraging people from volunteering. The vast majority of people volunteering with children are genuinely committed and well intentioned. However, we require certain safeguards to be in place.

“We hope this reminder will encourage youth groups to review their current child protection arrangements and contact us for free advice, guidance and support in terms of developing their own policy, procedures and also workforce development through the training opportunities that are available throughout the year.”

For information and advice regarding protocols and training opportunities, please contact Gordon McKay, Co-ordinator and Development Officer, Outer Hebrides Child Protection Committee, Council Offices, Sandwick Road Stornoway, HS1 2BW  or telephone 01851 822737.

Any club members, parents or carers who have a concern about a child protection matter should report it to social work on Tel No. 01851 822749. Out of Office hours reports should be made to Faire on 011851 701702. Alternatively matters can be reported directly to Police Scotland on Tel. No 101.