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Published: 04/05/2018
Updated: 04/05/2018

What this guidance covers

In this guidance we concentrate on safeguarding ‘vulnerable beneficiaries’, by which we mean children and vulnerable (or protected) adults. For the purposes of this guidance:

  • A child is anyone under 18 years of age.
  • A vulnerable adult is anyone over 16 years of age who is unable to safeguard themselves, their property and their rights.

Charities have a wider responsibility to protect their staff, volunteers and beneficiaries in general. It’s important that charities consider how to promote wellbeing and welfare of all the individuals they work with. However, this guidance focuses on the safeguarding of vulnerable beneficiaries. Many charities may have vulnerable beneficiaries who also work for the charity as volunteers or paid staff. In these circumstances the safeguarding of those staff and volunteers needs to be considered alongside the employment and volunteering responsibilities of the charity.  

In this guidance we look at what’s meant by safeguarding and highlight key steps that charity trustees can take to make sure that it is considered in an appropriate way for their charity.

The guidance also looks at how the charity trustee duties as set out in the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005 (the 2005 Act) can relate to safeguarding issues.


What this guidance does not cover

This guidance looks at the general principles of safeguarding; it doesn’t cover detailed requirements for different types of charities, such as those working overseas or in the care sector.  

The guidance doesn’t cover wider employment law issues such as allegations of sexual misconduct or harassment in the workplace. However, charity trustees do have a duty to create a workplace that is safe and secure for all. This includes having appropriate human resource policies, and ensuring that those working and volunteering for the charity are able to raise concerns and have them dealt with in an appropriate way. It also means working to promote and create a culture in which staff and volunteers can work effectively.


Who is the guidance for?

This guidance is aimed at charity trustees of charities with vulnerable beneficiaries and people working with those charity trustees.


How to use the guidance

The glossary provides you with further information, definitions and descriptions of key terms. Clicking on these terms will take you straight to the glossary or the relevant section of guidance. The guidance also contains links to external websites for other sources of information.

Sources of help and advice

OSCR publishes general guidance for charities, but we can’t provide specific advice on the full range of things which can happen in or affect your charity. See the links below to other sources of help and information: