Light of Truth Ministry (henceforth, ‘L.O.T.’, ‘we’ or ‘us’), an apostolate of the Dominican Sisters of St Joseph, delivers Catholic faith formation both in-person and online via Zoom. In all our events, we abide by a Safeguarding Policy designed to protect children, young people and vulnerable adults from all forms of abuse and provide L.O.T. members with a clear pathway for the reporting of allegations and incidents.
We believe that our Safeguarding Policy is a statement of intent that demonstrates a commitment to safeguarding children, young people and vulnerable adults from harm and makes clear to all what is required in relation to their protection. It aims to create a safe and positive environment at L.O.T events.
Safeguarding is also about protecting the adults who work with children, young people and vulnerable adults through L.O.T. It is the responsibility of all members of L.O.T., both sisters and other volunteers, to ensure that they follow the Safeguarding Policy in situations where abuse is suspected or witnessed, and that all allegations and incidents are reported to the Safeguarding Officer to be appropriately investigated.
The L.O.T. Safeguarding Officer is responsible for ensuring that this Safeguarding Policy is implemented and that all allegations of abuse are properly investigated. They are required to undergo safeguarding training at least every two years.
The current Safeguarding Officer is Sr Carino Hodder OP.
Checking and recruitment of Volunteers
All volunteers involved in L.O.T. events, whether in-person or online, undergo the following process of checking and recruitment:
1. Sign and read the Volunteer Agreement form
2. Sign and read the Safeguarding Policy
If a volunteer is assisting with an in-person event in a school in which children are present, they are also required to obtain a valid DBS check for the Diocese of Portsmouth.
These stipulations apply equally to the members of the Dominican Sisters of St Joseph.
Safeguarding at In-Person Events
L.O.T. delivers both formation courses and individual formation sessions in a variety of locations at the request of parishes, schools, dioceses and other organisations or groups. Before the event, L.O.T. will ensure that:
1. The organisation or group has carried out a risk assessment of the event.
2. The organisation or group has made available their safeguarding policy (or their Diocese’s safeguarding policy) to L.O.T so that we can ensure compliance.
3. The organisation or group has a designated Safeguarding Officer (or equivalent role) with whom the L.O.T. Safeguarding Officer can liaise.
4. All volunteers are aware of the number of children, young people and vulnerable adults who will be present at the event, and any additional needs they have.
Code of Conduct
All L.O.T. volunteers abide by the following code of conduct.
1. The adult:child ratios of the organisation or group responsible for the location of the event are to be observed at all times.
2. Volunteers are not to spend time alone with children, young people or vulnerable adults away from the sight of other adults.
3. Volunteers are not to contact children, young people or vulnerable adults after in person events unless with the specific permission of the adult responsible for them. - Volunteers are advised not to make unnecessary physical contact with children, young people or vulnerable adults without good reason (emotional comfort or physical help) and even then only with the consent of the person.
4. Volunteers are never to use humiliating, threatening, sexually provocative or abusive language.
5. Volunteers are never to engage in physical contact of a sexual, coercive or aggressive nature.
6. Volunteers are never to perform a physical task for children or vulnerable adults of a personal nature which they can perform themselves or for which they have a personal carer.
Safeguarding at Online Events
The platform used for our online events is Zoom. In our Zoom meetings we comply with the CSAS ‘Guidance on Using Videoconferencing Platforms in Ministry’, which can be viewed here.
All Zoom meetings are set up using a specific L.O.T. Zoom account and never an individual’s personal Zoom account. The Safeguarding Officer will ensure that the Zoom moderator for each session is aware of their responsibility to ensure the Zoom meeting is safeguarding compliant.
Policy for Zoom Meetings Involving Adults
1. Links to Zoom meetings are given only to those who have registered for the meeting and are not made publicly available.
2. Every Zoom meeting has the ‘Waiting Room’ function enabled and participants are only admitted to the meeting if immediately identifiable by their first and last name.
3. Any participant engaging in inappropriate behaviour (such as exposure and foul or abusive language) will be immediately removed from the meeting by the moderator.
Policy for Zoom Meetings Involving Children
In addition to the stipulations outlined above, the following applies to meetings in which children are present:
1. For Zoom meetings aimed primarily at adults, participants under the age of 18 are to be accompanied by a responsible adult who is in the room with them while they are participating in the Zoom meeting.
2. For meetings involving participants under the age of 18, two responsible adults must be present in the meeting at all times, including in breakout rooms.
3. The parents/guardians of participants under the age of 18 are to be informed of: the nature and purpose of the Zoom event in which their child is participating; the number of other participants in the meeting and what information about their child these participants will be privy to (name and visual image); the names and contact details of the adults responsible for safeguarding compliance.
4. Participants under the age of 18, and their parents/guardians, should be made aware that they are permitted to turn off their camera if they do not wish to be visible to other participants.
In the event of an adult being accused of inappropriate behaviour, whether at an in-person event or on an online meeting, the following process is to be followed.
1. Anybody who witnesses abuse or receives an allegation of abuse must immediately inform the Safeguarding Officer.
2. No allegation is to be trivialised, ignored or dismissed.
3. No volunteer is to initiate an investigation into a safeguarding allegation independently, even if they were the adult to whom the allegation was made.
4. The allegation is not to be discussed with the accused person outside of a formal investigation, and never before the allegation has been reported.
5. The Safeguarding Officer is required to report the allegation to the relevant authorities (depending on whether the safeguarding incident took place in a school, a parish, or online).
6. If the accused volunteer is a Dominican Sister of St Joseph, the safeguarding policy of the Diocese of Portsmouth (which can be viewed here) and the CSAS Protocol for Religious Orders (which can be viewed here) will also be followed.
Following an investigation
1. While an investigation is ongoing, the accused volunteer is to be suspended from involvement in L.O.T.
2. If an allegation is proven to be true, the accused volunteer is to be immediately dismissed from all involvement in L.O.T going forward.
This document is reviewed and updated as necessary.
Last updated January 2022