Coddington Court, Coddington
Phone: 01531 641726
Web address: www.adhisthana.org
Registered charity no: 1142673
Registered Charity name: The Triratna Preceptors College Trust LTD
Triratna is a worldwide network of friends in the Buddhist life. This is for many of us a source of great richness, support and strength. However, it also carries a risk that we may fail to notice, question or act on behaviours of concern, out of naivety, loyalty to friends or lack of awareness; or an assumption that “it couldn’t happen here” or “they would never do a thing like that.”
This policy is an expression of the first ethical precept taught by the Buddha: to avoid harming living beings. It refers to law and good practice mainly as defined in England and Wales. Triratna bodies in other countries are requested to draw up similar documents in line with local requirements.
The purpose of this policy
This document is for Friends, Mitras and Order members involved in Triratna Preceptors’ College Trust (PCT)/Adhisthana activities (and those of any outreach groups run by this centre) as employees, volunteers, leaders, teachers or parents.
It aims to provide:
It sets out:
Although we do not run activities specifically for those with mental illness or addiction, we recognise that people who may be vulnerable in these ways do attend our events and take part in the life of our sangha.
The trustees of the Triratna Preceptors’ College Trust (PCT)/Adhisthana recognise their responsibility to safeguard adults who may be deemed to be “at risk” visiting our Buddhist centre or involved in Buddhist centre activities.
Shubhavyuha (aka Shirley Robertson) is our Safeguarding officer. They are responsible for co-ordinating the protection of children and adults who may be at risk at Triratna Preceptors’ College Trust (PCT)/Adhisthana (See also our Safeguarding Children policy.)
Saddhanandi (aka Rachel Lovering) is our Safeguarding trustee. They are responsible for making sure Safeguarding is taken seriously by the trustees and appears regularly on their agendas, ensuring the trustees comply with their Safeguarding obligations as required by the Charity Commission.
Who is an “adult”?
In the United Kingdom an “adult” is a person who has passed their 18th birthday.
Who is an “adult at risk”?
This is not currently well defined. However, the following is one widely-used definition:
A person aged 18 or over, who needs, or may need, community care services because they are frail or have a learning disability, physical disability, sight or hearing disability or mental health issues; and cannot (or may not be able to) care for themselves, or take steps to protect themselves from significant harm or exploitation.
Adults who may be ‘at risk’ may also include those who:
Whether or not a person is “at risk” or “vulnerable” in these cases will vary according to circumstances, and it should be noted that a person with a physical disability is not necessarily vulnerable or at risk, though they could be. Each case must be judged on its own merits.
What is ‘mental capacity’?
Whether a person has mental capacity is a matter of specialist assessment and not for us to make. However, it may be useful to know something about it.
Mental capacity is the ability to make a particular decision. An adult may be at risk if they are unable to make a decision due to illness, disability, poor mental health, dementia, a learning disability or something else that may impair their judgment.
A person may be deemed to be ‘without capacity’ if they cannot:
About matters such as
Vulnerability can be variable
As is made clear above in the reference to the vulnerability of those who have suffered grief and loss we recognise that many people who are generally emotionally and psychologically stable in most aspects of their lives may on occasion find themselves vulnerable or at risk. This may be because of illness, relationship breakdown or bereavement, or because their practice of meditation or Buddhism has made them more sensitive and self-aware, particularly if they are new to Buddhism.
For example, we will bear in mind that a person who is emotionally vulnerable for any reason may not be able to make balanced decisions regarding giving money or becoming more involved with Triratna, or entering into intimate relationships, whether friendship or relationships which are more romantic or sexual in nature. We will take great care to help each other avoid exploiting people in such everyday situations of vulnerability.
Protecting those with psychological disorders
We are aware that those attending our centre and activities include adults experiencing psychological disorders ranging from mild to severe.
We recognise that as Buddhists we do not have the professional skills to diagnose or help people with psychological disorders and that they may not be helped solely by the kindness of Buddhists. In such cases we may need to advise them to seek professional help.
We are aware that for people with serious psychological disorders traditional Buddhist practices involving recognition of the illusion of self could be extremely dangerous. We may need to encourage them in traditional Buddhist practices involving the calming of body and mind, or to avoid meditation – altogether, or during periods of relapse.
Where we believe a person to be at risk of suicide or self-harm, or to pose a risk to others, we will alert our centre Safeguarding officer, who will refer to local mental health services and/or the police as appropriate, and consult with the Triratna Safeguarding Team if necessary. firstname.lastname@example.org
Protecting those with psychological disorders – online
Buddhism and meditation are increasingly taught using online media. In person, it is relatively easy to notice where a person may have compromised mental health; online it is much more difficult.
We recognise that among those seeking individual online guidance from members of the Triratna Buddhist Order there may be some reporting meditation experiences which are an indication of serious psychological disorder.
In engaging in individual guidance online by email, blog, social media or text we will take great care at the start to establish with local Order members the identity, location and suitability of the participant, and which local Order members are available locally to support them in person and gaining permission to contact those Order members if we believe they are at risk. (This does not apply where the participant is an Order member and therefore well known to us.)
(Responding to children online With anyone under 18, we will not engage in personal communication online or via social media except in carefully defined ways. See the Triratna Preceptors’ College Trust (PCT)/Adhisthana Child protection policy 2019.)
DBS checks (Disclosure and Barring Service)
The Charity Commission expects that anyone working for a charity, paid or volunteering, including trustees, will be DBS checked wherever they are eligible. Since the rules on eligibility are complicated and change from time to time, our Safeguarding officer will check at least annually with external Safeguarding experts such as Thirtyone:eight (www.thirtyoneeight.org) and ensure everyone eligible for a DBS check has been checked within the previous five years.
We understand that the core team (Mitras or Order members, paid or voluntary) directly responsible for any Triratna Preceptors’ College Trust (PCT)/Adhisthana activities or events specifically intended and advertised for adults likely to be more ‘at risk’ of mistreatment/manipulation must be DBS checked wherever eligible. At present we do not run any such activities but will keep this under review in case this should change.
We will require anyone helping with such activities (paid or voluntary) who has not been DBS checked to be supervised at all times by someone who is DBS checked.
This does not apply to general activities which an adult with mental health difficulties (for example) may happen to attend.
Managing those who pose a risk to others
There are cases where it is known that a person attending our activities is likely to pose a risk to others (for example, a person who is known to have a previous criminal conviction for sexual or other violent offences, or someone who is under investigation for possible sexual or other violent offences).
Such a person will be asked by the Safeguarding officer to negotiate a behaviour contract setting out the terms of their continued participation in [name of Triratna Buddhist centre/enterprise] activities within agreed boundaries. (See the document ‘Managing those who pose a risk’.) Where it is felt that the charity does not have the resources to manage this relationship safely, we reserve the right to ask the person not to attend our activities.
Our charity rents or lends premises for the following activities which are not activities of our charity, even if they are led/run by a member of our sangha: [eg yoga classes, massage, 12-step groups, retreat centre hire-outs]
We understand that there is joint responsibility on our charity and those renting/using our premises for the Safeguarding of children and adults taking part in such activities, but that our trustees bear ultimate responsibility for the Safeguarding in all activities on our premises.
Therefore we will ask the organisation or individual using our premises to sign a lettings agreement which says they have read our Safeguarding policies and agree to abide by them, or that they have shown us their own Safeguarding policies.
‘Abuse’ is not a legal term, but covers a number of ways in which a person may be deliberately harmed (legally or illegally), usually by someone who is in a position of power, trust or authority over them, or who may be perceived by that person to be in a position of power, trust or authority over them; for example by a Friend, Mitra or Order member who is helping to run Triratna Preceptors’ College Trust (PCT)/Adhisthana activities for those newer to such activities. The harm may be physical, psychological or emotional, or it may exploit the vulnerability of the person in more subtle ways.
However, harm can also occur less consciously, through naivety, idealism or lack of awareness.
Types of abuse
The 2014 Care Act identifies nine types of abuse, all of which have a psychological/emotional aspect.
Types of abuse, in more detail:
Abuse through neglect
Examples: working as housemaids, in brothels, cannabis farms, nail bars and agriculture against their will, unpaid
Some possible signs
Modern Slavery Helpline (UK) 0800 0121 700
Some signs and symptoms of domestic abuse
Financial or material abuse
Signs of abuse
NB Ageing processes can cause changes which are hard to distinguish from some aspects of physical assault e.g. skin bruising can occur due to blood vessels becoming fragile.
Signs of psychological or emotional vulnerability
Signs of discrimination
People who might abuse
Abuse may happen anywhere and may be carried out by anyone, eg:
If you have a concern
All allegations or suspicions should be taken seriously and reported to Triratna Preceptors’ College Trust (PCT)/Adhisthana Safeguarding officer: Shubhavyuha email@example.com
What to do if an adult alleges abuse
What to do next
Finally, if the allegation may be criminal, without giving personal details of those involved you should email the Charity Commission that there has been a serious Safeguarding incident, that your charity has addressed it according to your Safeguarding policies and the police have been informed. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/how-to-report-a-serious-incident-in-your-charity
Who else needs to know?
Confidentiality, sharing information only on a need-to-know basis, is very important. Under data protection legislation nobody has a right to know about the matter – except, for Safegarding purposes, with those in a position to prevent further harm, and your Chair, who holds ultimate responsibility for the governance of the charity. For example, where there is a criminal allegation against a mitra it would be justifiable for the Safeguarding officer, Chair and mitra convenor to know about it. Normally it is illegal to share personal information about a person without that person’s permission in writing; however, where there are Safeguarding concerns it may be necessary, and therefore legally justifiable, to report without consent, for the prevention of harm.
This is not a matter of concealment, but is intended to protect all concerned from further harm. It will also protect your sangha from fear, rumour and disharmony which will make it much harder to deal with the matter effectively without causing further harm.
Secure, confidential record-keeping
We understand our responsibility for secure and careful record-keeping. Our Safeguarding officer will keep a detailed log of all Safeguarding-related incidents as well as conversations, actions and the reasoning behind them. These will be stored on the charity’s computer, in a password protected section accessible only to the Safeguarding officer and one or two others approved by our trustees. If this is not practicable, they will be written on a computer, printed out and the paper copies stored in a locked cabinet, box or drawer accessible only to the Safeguarding officer and one or two others approved by our trustees. In this case the computer files must be deleted promptly. We understand that such records must not be stored on individuals’ own private computers.
We also understand that under data protection law we need to word our records in a form we would be happy for the subjects to read if they ask to, as is their legal right. This means notes should be factual and respectful, free of interpretations and value-judgements.
Keeping confidential records
We understand that because many abuse cases come to light 30 or more years later our insurers may require us to keep our logs for up to 50 years. (This is a requirement of the UK’s Buddhist Insurance Scheme.)
If our charity closes down, we will give our records to another Triratna Buddhist centre/charity to keep with their own confidential Safeguarding logs.
Reviewing our policies annually
All our Safeguarding policies will be reviewed by the trustees and Safeguarding officer annually and the review recorded in the minutes of their meetings.
Triratna Preceptors’ College Trust (PCT)/Adhisthana
Chair’s name and email address: Saddhanandi (aka Rachel Lovering)
Safeguarding officer’s name and email address: Shubhavyuha
This document will be reviewed annually by the Safeguarding officer and trustees of Triratna Preceptors College Trust.
Published by the trustees of Triratna Preceptors College Trust.
This model document published May 2019 by the Triratna Safeguarding team, part of the Triratna Ethics Kula.