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This policy was agreed by the Board of Trustees on 23rd September 2019 and is reviewed annually; most recently on 24 September 2021.


1    Introduction

We Are Family (WAF) is committed to creating safe spaces for all WAF activities and events. Whilst WAF does not work with children or adults at risk, the nature of WAF’s work means members, volunteers and staff may hear accusations, have concerns or hear disclosures of information relevant to the safeguarding of children or adults at risk. 

We endeavour to ensure that any event, activity or signposting undertaken by WAF is safe for WAF members and their families, volunteers and staff. We are also committed to prevention of harm through safer recruitment and ongoing training. However, we are ultimately not able to accept any responsibility for the welfare or safety of any child or adult at a WAF activity or event.



  1. Our organisation
    1. Organisation details
    2. What does WAF do?
    3. Our commitment to safeguarding
  2. Prevention
    1. Understanding abuse and neglect
    2. Safer recruitment
    3. Safeguarding training
    4. Management of staff, trustees and Volunteers
  3. Practice Requirements
    1. Requirement 1 – running a WAF activity or event
    2. Requirement 2 – running an online event 
    3. Requirement 3 – communicating safely
    4. Requirement 4 – working in partnership
  4. Allegations or Concerns of Abuse
    1. Responding to an allegation of abuse
    2. Responding to a concern
    3. Raising an allegation or concern 
    4. Referring allegations or concerns to statutory agencies
    5. Allegations of abuse against a staff member, trustee or volunteer



  1. Safe and secure safeguarding standards
  2. Definitions and Signs and Symptoms of Abuse 


  1.  Our organisation 


  1. Organisation details


Name: We Are Family CIO
Address: 27 Old Gloucester Street London WC1N 3AX 
Chair of the Board of Trustees: Mark Hoult-Allen,
Safeguarding Coordinator: Sophie Rose, Operations Manager (Parental Cover),, 07824 644 540
Regulator: Charity Commission of England and Wales
Charity Number: 1163318
Insurance Company: Ansvar Insurance, Ansvar House, St Leonards Road, Eastbourne, East Sussex, BN21 3UR


  1. What does WAF do?

We Are Family is a peer-to-peer adoption support community for and led by parents. It operates in and around London and membership is open to anyone who is going through the UK adoption process, has adopted outside the UK but is now resident in the UK, or was previously resident in the UK and a validated member who has since moved abroad. Rather than offering advice, WAF offers community and is open to all types of family. WAF provides active support through regular meet ups, information sharing and other initiatives. WAF activities and events are first and foremost designed to support parents, who may attend alone or in couples. There are also events at which children are welcome, such as family meetups or playgroups.


  1. Our commitment to safeguarding

The Board of Trustees of WAF, as the body with ultimate responsibility for the charity, recognises the need to provide a safe environment for WAF events and activities.  It acknowledges that children, young people and adults can be the victims of physical, sexual and emotional abuse, and neglect.  The Board has therefore adopted the procedures set out in this Safeguarding Policy. This Policy and any practice guidelines are based on the ten Safe and Secure safeguarding standards published by ThirtyOne:Eight (see Appendix 1).

The Board undertakes to: 


  • comply with all applicable legislation.
  • provide on-going safeguarding training for all its volunteers and staff and regularly review this Policy and the operational guidelines attached.
  • support the Safeguarding Coordinator(s) in his/her work and any action he/she may need to take in order to protect children and adults at risk.


  1. Prevention


  1. Understanding abuse and neglect 

Defining child abuse or abuse against an adult is a difficult and complex issue. A person may abuse by inflicting harm or failing to prevent harm. Children and adults at risk may be abused within a family, an institution or a community setting. Very often the abuser is known to or in a trusted relationship with the child or adult. Detailed definitions, and signs and indicators of abuse are included in Appendix 2.


  1. Safer recruitment

The Trustees will ensure all staff, trustees and volunteers will be appointed, trained, supported and supervised in accordance with government guidance on safe recruitment.  This includes ensuring that:


  • There is a written job description / person specification for each post.
  • Those applying for any role have completed an application form, been asked for at least an informal character reference and have completed a self-declaration form as necessary.
  • Where relevant, those shortlisted have been interviewed and safeguarding has been discussed.
  • Written references have been obtained, and followed up where appropriate
  • A disclosure and barring check has been completed where necessary (we will comply with code of practice requirements concerning the fair treatment of applicants and the handling of information).
  • Qualifications where relevant have been verified.
  • A suitable training programme is provided for the successful applicant.
  • Where relevant, the applicant has completed a probationary period.
  • The applicant has been given a copy of WAF’s Safeguarding Policy and knows how to report concerns.


  1. Safeguarding training

The Board is committed to on-going safeguarding training and development opportunities for all volunteers and staff, developing a culture of awareness of safeguarding issues to help protect everyone.  All trustees, volunteers and staff will receive in-house induction training and undertake annual in-house refresher training or recognised safeguarding training where necessary on an ad-hoc basis.


  1. Management of staff, trustees and volunteers

The Board of Trustees is committed to supporting all volunteers and staff and to ensuring that they receive appropriate support and supervision through agreed line management. All volunteers and staff have been issued with documentary resources setting out detailed procedures and guidance.


  1.  Practice Requirements

We wish to operate and promote good working practice. This will enable staff and volunteers to operate and run WAF activities and events safely, develop good relationships and minimise the risk of false or unfounded accusation. 

Requirement 1: Running a WAF activity or event


  1. Code of Conduct

The ‘Toolkit for Running WAF Activities and Events’ must be followed.  This is available from the Operations Manager.. When attending a WAF event for families, no one should be alone with a child/ren that are not their own, unless given consent by the child/ren’s parent.


  1. Attendance by non-Members


  • Where advertised as such, participation in some events is for Members only.   This means that any partner who does not join We Are Family will have limited access to our events and services.


  • Some events are intended for Members accompanied by their children, their partner (who is not a We Are Family member) and extended family members. In these cases, members are responsible for the behaviour of anyone participating in a We Are Family event with them and members must ensure that the person is aware of We Are Family’s rules for its events (See Membership Terms & Conditions). 


  • If a partner (who is not a We Are Family Member) or anyone else is invited to participate in a We Are Family event or use any service provided by us, acts in a way which would be a breach of these Terms and Conditions, we may bar that person from using any or all of our services or participating in We Are Family events going forward. 


  1. Risk assessments and incidents


  • All WAF Groups are required to complete an annual risk assessment in advance of the planned activities and events conducted by the group which will cover various areas, including safeguarding. This should ideally be completed every January and be sent to the Operations Manager. A template will be provided.
  • If there is an accident or incident at a WAF activity or event, the Group Leader or activity/event coordinator should fill out an accident and incident form to ensure full records of the situation have been made, in case required at a later date.


  1. Photography at activities and events


  • No one may take photographs or other images of any other Member or event attendees (adult or child), unless they have obtained permission from that person, or if a child, his, her or their parent. 
  • Where someone has permission to take photographs or other images, they may not publish or disclose those photographs or other images; or use those photographs or images for business or other commercial purposes without the permission of that person or parent.
  • WAF has no responsibility for any unauthorised photographs or images taken at a WAF event, or for any unauthorised use of such photographs or images. 
  • If a WAF member, staff member, volunteer or trustee takes or uses unauthorised photographs or images of WAF event attendees, they may be barred from attending future WAF events, have their WAF membership terminated or face disciplinary action.

Requirement 2: Running an online event 

WAF is committed to providing safe spaces for members to engage and this includes when meeting online.


Our Online Meeting Guidance Includes (in addition to practices outlined in Requirement 1):


  • Producing a Guide to Zoom for Local WAF Groups 
  • Keeping the 9 digit meeting code ID private and restricted to WAF members only 
  • Using the waiting room function and only admitting guests known to the hosts
  • Changing settings to stop screen sharing
  • Reminding hosts to use the event checklist to ensure online parent support groups follow the WAF code of conduct and that meetings are held in a safe way.
  • Announcing in advance if any online sessions will be recorded and where these will be shared i.e. on the Member Hub, to other validated WAF members only. 
  • Providing the opportunity for guests to turn their cameras off and to remain anonymous throughout, whilst still engaging anonymously via the Q&A if they choose to. 

Requirement 3: Communicating safely


  1. IT Policy

WAF is committed to ensuring all members, staff, trustees and volunteers communicate safely online. The WAF ‘IT Policy’ covers safe online and mobile communication and aims to promote safety in the day to day operations of WAF’s work. This policy is given to all staff, trustees and volunteers on joining WAF and can be accessed at any time by contacting the Operations Manager.


  1. Privacy Policy

The Privacy Policy demonstrates WAF’s commitment to Member privacy and compliance with the General Data Protection Regulations. By adhering to the Privacy Policy all Member data will be safely managed. This can be accessed on WAF’s website.

Requirement 4: Working in partnership

We expect all organisations with whom we work in partnership to have appropriate safeguarding policies and procedures and will ask to see copies of such documentation. We will also share our own safeguarding policy. It is important that any organisation working with WAF is equally committed to providing safe spaces for activities and events.


  1. Allegations or Concerns of Abuse 

Under no circumstances should a WAF member, staff member, trustee or volunteer carry out their own investigation into an allegation or concern except as these procedures provide.  It is important to follow the procedures as set out below.

As part of WAF’S in-house safeguarding training package, scenario-based training will always be given to all WAF staff, trustees and volunteers on the following procedures.

Confidentiality of anything disclosed during a WAF activity or event cannot be guaranteed where safeguarding allegations or concerns are raised. Any allegation (sometimes referred to as a disclosure) regarding actual or potential abuse by a WAF member may be treated as a concern (see section 4.2). This policy clearly highlights the sensitive and structured process that will be used to deal with such situations. 


  1. Responding to an allegation of abuse

If a child or adult tells you they are being, or have been, abused:


  • Listen to them and allow them to talk freely. Ask them WHO it was, WHEN it happened, WHERE it happened.
  • DON’T push them to answer if they don’t want to.
  • DON’T ask any other questions.
  • Take it seriously and DON’T make judgements.
  • Tell them you must tell other people who can help.
  • DON’T promise to keep it secret.
  • Tell them what you are going to do (and in the case of an adult, ask them about their wishes). It is important to remember when responding to an adult disclosing possible abuse that they have the right to decline further action in relation to themselves. 
  • Write down the details given to you, using the words spoken to you.
  • Follow the process outlined in section 4.3 for documenting an allegation or concern.


  1. Responding to a concern

If there is a concern that a child or adult with care and support needs may have been abused it is important the person receiving this information follows the steps below. Sharing ‘gut feelings’ at an early stage may assist in helping those who need it. It should be stressed that the information should only be shared with the Safeguarding Coordinator at this stage and parents/carers must not be notified. If the safeguarding issue is a matter of urgency, the matter should immediately be referred to the emergency services.

Make notes as soon as possible (preferably within one hour of the concern arising) including: 


  • A description of any injury, its size, and if possible, a drawing of its location and shape on the body.
  • Write down exactly what has been said, when it was said, what was said in reply and what was happening immediately beforehand (e.g. a description of an activity).
  • Write down dates and times of these events and when the record was made.
  • Write down any action taken and keep all handwritten notes even if subsequently typed up.
  • Follow the process outlined in 4.3.


  1. Raising an allegation or concern 

Process for all members, staff, trustees and volunteers

The person in receipt of allegations/disclosures or concerns must pass on their notes to the Safeguarding Co-ordinator to assist them should the matter need to be referred to the statutory agencies such as Adult or Children’s Social Services or the police. 


  • Any allegation/disclosure or concern should be reported, with notes, as soon as possible by phone to: 

Name: Sophie Rose (the “Safeguarding Coordinator”) 

Tel: 07824 644 540


A written record of the notes by email will be necessary following the call.

The above is nominated by the Board of Trustees to act on its behalf in dealing with such matters, including referring the matter on to the statutory authorities where appropriate. 


  • In the absence of the Safeguarding Coordinator or, if the matter in any way involves the Safeguarding Coordinator, then the report should be made to: 

Name: Jody Tranter (Safeguarding Deputy/Board Representative) 

Tel: 07989 514990



  • If the matter involves both the Safeguarding Coordinator and the Deputy, then the report should be made in the first instance to: ThirtyOne:Eight Tel: 0303 003 1111.    Alternatively contact Social Services or the police. 
  • Allegations, concerns and disclosures must not be discussed with anyone other than those stated above. A written record of the matter should be made in accordance with these procedures and kept securely.
  • Whilst allegations, concerns or disclosures of abuse should normally be reported to the Safeguarding Coordinator, the absence of the Safeguarding Coordinator or Deputy should not delay referral, which dependent on the severity of the issue, would be to Social Services, the Police or through taking advice from ThirtyOne:Eight.


  1. Referring allegations, concerns or disclosures to statutory agencies

Process for the Safeguarding Coordinator

The role of the Safeguarding Coordinator/Deputy is to collate and clarify the precise details of the allegation, concern or disclosure and, when necessary, pass this information on:


  • The Coordinator will store all written information regarding allegations, concerns or disclosures in a confidential log.
  • When necessary, the Safeguarding Coordinator/Deputy should contact the appropriate agency or first contact the ThirtyOne:Eight helpline for advice.  They should then contact social services in the area the child or adult lives.
  • The Safeguarding Coordinator/Deputy may need to inform others depending on the circumstances and/or nature of the concern e.g. the WAF Chair or trustee responsible for safeguarding who may need to liaise with the insurance company or the Charity Commission to report a serious incident. The LADO (Local Authority Designated Officer) may need to be informed if the allegation concerns someone under 18.
  • The Board of Trustees will support the Safeguarding Coordinator/Deputy in their role and accepts that any information individual trustees may have in their possession may need to be shared in a strictly limited way on a need to know basis.

Anyone may make a direct referral to the statutory agencies, although the Board of Trustees hopes that members of WAF will use this procedure. If, however, anyone with a concern feels that the Safeguarding Coordinator/Deputy has not responded appropriately, or where they have a disagreement with the Safeguarding Coordinator(s) about the appropriateness of a referral they may contact an outside agency direct.  We hope that by making this statement the Board of Trustees demonstrates its commitment to effective safeguarding and the protection of all those who are vulnerable.


  1. Allegations of abuse against a WAF member, staff member, trustee or volunteer

If an allegation of abuse is made against a member, staff member, trustee or volunteer, the Safeguarding Coordinator/Deputy, in accordance with procedures of Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) and Adult Social Services, will: 


  • Liaise with Social Services about suspension of the worker or suspension of membership.
  • Make a referral to a LADO whose function is to handle all allegations against adults who work with children and young people whether in a paid or voluntary capacity. 
  • Make a referral to Disclosure and Barring Service about whether the person should be placed on the barred list for working with children or adults with additional care and support needs. This decision should be informed by the LADO if they are involved.

Appendix 1: Safe and secure safeguarding standards

ThirtyOne:Eight have developed ten standards to assist organisations to operate safely and in a manner that complies with relevant UK law and good practice as follows:

1. Safeguarding Policy 

2. Developing Safeguarding Awareness Training 

3. Safer Recruitment 

4. Management of Workers 

5. Working Safely 

6. Communicating Effectively 

7. Responding to Concerns 

8. Pastoral Care 

9. Managing Those who may Pose a Risk 

10. Working in Partnership

For more information, please visit:

Appendix 2: Definitions and signs and symptoms of abuse


  1. Definitions and signs of abuse: children

Child protection legislation throughout the UK is based on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Each nation within the UK has incorporated the convention within its legislation and guidance. The four definitions (and a few additional categories) of abuse below operate in England based on the government guidance ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children (2018)’.

Abuse and neglect are forms of maltreatment of a child. Somebody may abuse or neglect a child by inflicting harm, or by failing to act to prevent harm. Children may be abused in a family or in an institutional or community setting, by those known to them or, more rarely, by a stranger for example, via the internet. They may be abused by an adult or adults, or another child or children.

The following signs could be indicators that abuse has taken place but should be considered in context of the child’s whole life.


  • Physical abuse: Physical abuse may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating, or otherwise causing physical harm to a child. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer fabricates the symptoms of, or deliberately induces, illness in a child.

Signs of physical abuse:


  • Injuries not consistent with the explanation given for them
  • Injuries that occur in places not normally exposed to falls, rough games, etc
  • Injuries that have not received medical attention
  • Reluctance to change for, or participate in, games or swimming
  • Repeated urinary infections or unexplained tummy pains
  • Bruises on babies, bites, burns, fractures etc which do not have an accidental explanation*
  • Cuts/scratches/substance abuse*


  • Emotional abuse: Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional maltreatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development. It may involve conveying to children that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person. It may include not giving the child opportunities to express their views, deliberately silencing them or ‘making fun’ of what they say or how they communicate. It may feature age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children. These may include interactions that are beyond the child’s developmental capability, as well as overprotection and limitation of exploration and learning, or preventing the child participating in normal social interaction. It may involve seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another. It may involve serious bullying (including cyberbullying), causing children frequently to feel frightened or in danger, or the exploitation or corruption of children. Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of maltreatment of a child, though it may occur alone.

Signs of emotional abuse:


  • Changes or regression in mood or behaviour, particularly where a child withdraws or becomes clinging.
  • Depression, aggression, extreme anxiety.
  • Nervousness, frozen watchfulness
  • Obsessions or phobias
  • Sudden under-achievement or lack of concentration
  • Inappropriate relationships with peers and/or adults
  • Attention-seeking behaviour
  • Persistent tiredness
  • Running away/stealing/lying


  • Sexual abuse: Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, not necessarily involving a high level of violence, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including assault by penetration (for example, rape or oral sex) or non-penetrative acts such as masturbation, kissing, rubbing and touching outside of clothing. They may also include non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of, sexual images, watching sexual activities, encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways, or grooming a child in preparation for abuse (including via the internet). Sexual abuse is not solely perpetrated by adult males. Women can also commit acts of sexual abuse, as can other children. 

Signs of sexual abuse:


  • Any allegations made concerning sexual abuse
  • Excessive preoccupation with sexual matters and detailed knowledge of adult sexual behaviour
  • Age-inappropriate sexual activity through words, play or drawing
  • Child who is sexually provocative or seductive with adults
  • Inappropriate bed-sharing arrangements at home
  • Severe sleep disturbances with fears, phobias, vivid dreams or nightmares, sometimes with overt or veiled sexual connotations
  • Eating disorders – anorexia, bulimia*


  • Neglect: Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development. Neglect may occur during pregnancy as a result of maternal substance abuse. Once a child is born, neglect may involve a parent or carer failing to:


  • provide adequate food, clothing and shelter (including exclusion from home or abandonment);
  • protect a child from physical and emotional harm or danger;
  • ensure adequate supervision (including the use of inadequate caregivers); or
  • ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment.

It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs.

Signs of neglect:


  • Under nourishment, failure to grow, constant hunger, stealing or gorging food, Untreated illnesses,
  • Inadequate care, etc

*These indicate the possibility that a child or young person is self-harming. Approximately 20,000 are treated in accident and emergency departments in the UK each year.


  • Extremism: Extremism goes beyond terrorism and includes people who target the vulnerable – including the young – by seeking to sow division between communities on the basis of race, faith or denomination; justify discrimination towards women and girls; persuade others that minorities are inferior; or argue against the primacy of democracy and the rule of law in our society.


  • Children in Whom Illness is Fabricated or Induced (formerly known as Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy) This is a form of child abuse in which the parents or carers give false accounts of symptoms in their children and may fake signs of illness (to draw attention to themselves). They seek repeated medical investigations and needless treatment for their children. 


  • Spiritual Abuse: Linked with emotional abuse, spiritual abuse could be defined as an abuse of power, often done in the name of God or religion, which involves manipulating or coercing someone into thinking, saying or doing things without respecting their right to choose for themselves. Some indicators of spiritual abuse might be a leader who is intimidating and imposes his/her will on other people, perhaps threatening dire consequences or the wrath of God if disobeyed. He or she may say that God has revealed certain things to them and so they know what is right. Those under their leadership are fearful to challenge or disagree, believing they will lose the leader’s or God’s acceptance and approval.


  • Domestic Violence: Domestic violence is: ‘any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults, aged 18 and over, who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender and sexuality.’ (Family members are defined as mother, father, son, daughter, brother, sister and grandparents, whether directly related, in-laws or step-family.) In 2004 the Government’s definition of domestic violence was extended to include acts perpetrated by extended family members as well as intimate partners. Consequently, acts such as forced marriage and other so-called ‘honour crimes’, which can include abduction and homicide, can now come under the definition of domestic violence.


  • Female Genital Mutilation (FGM): The World Health Organization defined FGM as all procedures involving partial or total removal or stitching up of the female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs whether for cultural or other non-therapeutic reasons. FGM has been a criminal offence in the UK since the Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act 1985 was passed.


  1. Definitions and Signs of Possible Abuse – Adults

The following information relates to the Safeguarding of Adults as defined in the Care Act 2014, Chapter 14. Safeguarding. The legislation is relevant across England and Wales but on occasions applies only to local authorities in England.

The Safeguarding duties apply to an adult who;


  • has need for care and support (whether or not the local authority is meeting any of those needs) and;
  • is experiencing, or at risk of, abuse or neglect; and
  • as a result of those care and support needs is unable to protect themselves from either the risk of, or the experience of abuse or neglect.

This section considers the different types and patterns of abuse and neglect and the different circumstances in which they may take place. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list but an illustrative guide as to the sort of behaviour which could give rise to a safeguarding concern. 

Physical abuse including assault, hitting, slapping, pushing, misuse of medication, restraint or inappropriate physical sanctions.

Signs of Physical abuse


  • History of unexplained falls, fractures, bruises, burns, minor injuries.
  • Signs of under or overuse of medication and/or medical problems left unattended.
  • Any injuries not consistent with the explanation given for them
  • Bruising and discolouration – particularly if there is a lot of bruising of different ages and in places not normally exposed to falls, rough games etc.
  • Recurring injuries without plausible explanation
  • Loss of hair, loss of weight and change of appetite
  • Person flinches at physical contact &/or keeps fully covered, even in hot weather;
  • Person appears frightened or subdued in the presence of a particular person or people

Domestic violence – including psychological, physical, sexual, financial, emotional abuse; so-called ‘honour’ based violence.

Signs of Domestic violence


  • Unexplained injuries or ‘excuses’ for marks or scars
  • Coercive, controlling and/or threatening relationship including psychological, physical, sexual, financial, emotional abuse; so-called ‘honour’ based violence and Female Genital Mutilation.
  • Age range extended to 16 yrs.

Sexual abuse – including rape, indecent exposure, sexual harassment, inappropriate looking or touching, sexual teasing or innuendo, sexual photography, subjection to pornography or witnessing sexual acts, indecent exposure and sexual assault or sexual acts to which the adult has not consented or was pressured into consenting.

Signs of Sexual abuse


  • Pregnancy in a woman who lacks mental capacity or is unable to consent to sexual intercourse
  • Unexplained change in behaviour or sexually explicit behaviour
  • Torn, stained or bloody underwear and/or unusual difficulty in walking or sitting
  • Infections or sexually transmitted diseases
  • Full or partial disclosures or hints of sexual abuse
  • Self-harming
  • Emotional distress
  • Mood changes
  • Disturbed sleep patterns

Psychological abuse – including emotional abuse, threats of harm or abandonment, deprivation of contact, humiliation, blaming, controlling, intimidation, coercion, harassment, verbal abuse, cyber bullying, isolation or unreasonable and unjustified withdrawal of services or supportive networks.

Signs of Psychological abuse


  • Alteration in psychological state e.g. withdrawn, agitated, anxious, tearful
  • Intimidated or subdued in the presence of a carer
  • Fearful, flinching or frightened of making choices or expressing wishes
  • Unexplained paranoia
  • Changes in mood, attitude and behaviour, excessive fear or anxiety
  • Changes in sleep pattern or persistent tiredness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Helplessness or passivity
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Implausible stories and attention seeking behaviour
  • Low self-esteem

Financial or material abuse – including theft, fraud, internet scamming, coercion in relation to an adult’s financial affairs or arrangements, including in connection with wills, property, inheritance or financial transactions, or the misuse or misappropriation of property, possessions or benefits.

Signs of Financial or material abuse


  • Disparity between assets and living conditions
  • Unexplained withdrawals from accounts or disappearance of financial documents or loss of money
  • Sudden inability to pay bills, getting into debt
  • Carers or professionals fail to account for expenses incurred on a person’s behalf
  • Recent changes of deeds or title to property
  • Missing personal belongings
  • Inappropriate granting and / or use of Power of Attorney

Signs of Modern slavery – encompasses slavery, human trafficking, forced labour and domestic servitude. Traffickers and slave masters use whatever means they have at their disposal to coerce, deceive and force individuals into a life of abuse, servitude and inhumane treatment.

Modern slavery


  • Physical appearance; unkempt, inappropriate clothing, malnourished
  • Movement monitored, rarely alone, travel early or late at night to facilitate working hours.
  • Few personal possessions or ID documents.
  • Fear of seeking help or trusting people.

Discriminatory abuse – including forms of harassment, slurs or similar treatment; because of race, gender and gender identity, age, disability, sexual orientation or religion.

Signs of Discriminatory abuse


  • Inappropriate remarks, comments or lack of respect
  • Poor quality or avoidance care
  • Low self-esteem
  • Withdrawn
  • Anger
  • Person puts themselves down in terms of their gender or sexuality
  • Abuse may be observed in conversations or reports by the person of how they perceive themselves

Organisational abuse – including neglect and poor care practice within an Institution or specific care setting such as a hospital or care home, for example, or in relation to care provided in one’s own home. This may range from one off incidents to on-going ill-treatment. It can be through neglect or poor professional practice as a result of the structure, policies, processes and practices within an organisation.

Signs of Institutional Abuse


  • Low self-esteem
  • Withdrawn
  • Anger
  • Person puts themselves down in terms of their gender or sexuality
  • Abuse may be observed in conversations or reports by the person of how they perceive themselves
  • No confidence in complaints procedures for staff or service users.
  • Neglectful or poor professional practice.

Neglect and acts of omission – including ignoring medical, emotional or physical care needs, failure to provide access to appropriate health, care and support or educational services, the withholding of the necessities of life, such as medication, adequate nutrition and heating.

Signs of Neglect and acts of omission


  • Deteriorating despite apparent care
  • Poor home conditions, clothing or care and support.
  • Lack of medication or medical intervention

Self-neglect – this covers a wide range of behaviour neglecting to care for one’s personal hygiene, health or surroundings and includes behaviour such as hoarding. Incidents of abuse may be one-off or multiple and affect one person or more.

Signs of Self-neglect


  • Hoarding inside or outside a property
  • Neglecting personal hygiene or medical needs
  • Person looking unkempt or dirty and has poor personal hygiene
  • Person is malnourished, has sudden or continuous weight loss and is dehydrated – constant hunger, stealing or gorging on food
  • Person is dressed inappropriately for the weather conditions
  • Dirt, urine or faecal smells in a person’s environment
  • Home environment does not meet basic needs (for example not heating or lighting)
  • Depression

Last updated: 24 September 2021