This topic is covered in the training for visitors and teachers. Coordinators remind new volunteers about them when they start working with a client with (a) child(ren).
No volunteer may be alone with a child when acting for SWVG.
This applies to every volunteer, whether visitor, teacher, helping for example with an outing, or in any other way.
SWVG visitors and teachers have DBS checks to advanced level that enable them to work with vulnerable adults, but not children.
The adult asylum seeker is the client, not their child(ren).
Volunteers must not take full responsibility for looking after a child; that responsibility remains with the parent.
- Tell the client from the start that SWVG does not permit you to be with a child alone.
- Visit when children are not present if you can arrange this.
- If that is impossible:
- try to meet in public/populated space
- stay with parent – do not be alone with the child, even for a very short time.
SWVG guidance, and how to respond in various situations
It is fine for volunteers to be with and play with children in any public place.
A car is not a public space. Do not be alone with a child in a car.
Occasionally volunteers have been asked to take responsibility for a child for a few hours – eg on a coach outing. Do not agree. Instead, help the client to find a friend to accompany the child.
When accompanying a client to hospital, a volunteer may be asked in an emergency to look after the children for a short time while the client sees the clinician. As long as the visitor and child are in a public place this is acceptable.
The same applies if a volunteer is asked to look after a child while the parent was interviewed by immigration or in a court for a short time.
Your own wellbeing – things to reflect on
The emotional strain on the volunteer may be greater when children are involved.
You may face demands to do things for the children which you feel are excessive
Analyse the purpose of any visitor activity with the children – why are you doing this?
How much of your own life do you feel comfortable to share? Do you want to share your own family information? What if you are asked personal questions eg birth control?
How much time to give the family, especially if more than one meeting a week.
Approaches to children
There are lots of different approaches to raising a child. Do need to share assumptions?
The client may have different assumptions and approaches to you, affected by
- their parental expectations
- their own upbringing
- their education and literacy level
- not being in their own family /community context and support
- cultural preferences – religious expectations
- different birth control beliefs
You may have feelings too – for example, having more children when their situation is so uncertain.
On the other hand, you may come across things that make you wonder if these are differences n culture, or an issue f safeguarding, such as:
- the impact on a child’s mental health of hearing stories about the reasons for leaving the country of origin
- female genital mutilation (female circumcision)
- doula – danger of untrained involvement)
- witnessing/ hearing about unsafe practices
If you have any concerns, talk to SWVG’s safeguarding lead David Retter. He will help you think through whether there is a safeguarding issue and what to do.
Last Updated: 06/04/2021 – Next Update Due: