Our approach to safeguarding

Sightsavers is fully committed to protecting children and at-risk adults from harm across all of our programmes and projects.

Hilda with her son John.

Read about our commitment to safeguarding

Download safeguarding policy

At Sightsavers, we have an obligation to protect children and at-risk adults from harm, whether from members of staff, partners, suppliers, contractors, consultants, or from involvement in our programme activities.

We must do whatever we can to keep those who are affected by our work safe, and protect them from all forms of violence, injury, exploitation, abuse, neglect, mistreatment or sexual abuse. We must also respond appropriately to any safeguarding concerns within our organisation, our partners, or the communities where we work.

Our safeguarding work focuses on children and ‘adults at risk’: someone aged 18 or over who has care and support needs because of their age or frailty, gender, mental or physical health problems, learning or physical disabilities or the impact of disasters and conflicts. As a result, they may be unable to protect themselves from harm, exploitation or abuse.

Our safeguarding policy was first published in April 2017, and ensures we adhere to the principles of safeguarding set out by the UK Care Act (2014):

  1. Empowerment: Support and encourage people to make their own decisions and to give informed consent.
  2. Prevention: Recognise that it is better to take action before harm occurs.
  3. Proportionality: Undertake the least intrusive response appropriate to the risk presented.
  4. Protection: Provide support and representation for those in greatest need.
  5. Partnership: Deliver local solutions working within communities. Communities have a part to play in preventing, detecting and reporting neglect and abuse.
  6. Accountability: Ensure accountability and transparency in delivering safeguarding.

Our video below outlines Sightsavers’ approach to safeguarding, and provides clear guidance on how to create safe environments and raise any concerns. You can also watch the video in French with International Sign.

A person's hands are shown, entering data into a mobile phone.

How to report concerns

Our Speak Up reporting platform enables beneficiaries, staff, volunteers, partners and more to raise concerns about the conduct of Sightsavers and its staff.

Visit the Speak Up page

Recent research on child protection and disability carried out by humanitarian organisation Plan International found that children with disabilities experience far higher levels of abuse than their peers.

We have a specific mandate to protect and promote the rights of people with visual impairments and other disabilities. In recognition of this, our policy outlines a broad child safeguarding approach, but also includes specific actions focused on people with disabilities.

Our policy covers seven areas of focus:

  • Awareness and communication
  • Working in partnership to safeguard children and adults
  • Applying the policy across our country offices
  • Recruitment and training of staff
  • Programme activities
  • Comunications activities
  • Reporting and responding to safeguarding issues.

All Sightsavers representatives, including staff, volunteers and external consultants are required to understand their responsibility to keep children and adults safe, and to sign and abide by the Sightsavers Code of Conduct.

In the IDDC’s inclusive safeguarding statement (pdf), we outline our position on disability-inclusive safeguarding to support others working in the development sector. This statement can also be used as an advocacy tool to demand meaningful disability-inclusive safeguarding.

In line with our commitment to safe programming and recruitment, Sightsavers participates in the inter-agency Misconduct Disclosure Scheme, which is administered by the Steering Committee for Humanitarian Response.

Resource and Support Hub logo

Safeguarding Resource and Support Hub

Sightsavers supports this online hub, funded by the UK's Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, which hosts free guidance, tools and research to help aid organisations improve their safeguarding practices.

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Misconduct Disclosure Scheme logo

Read about our commitment to safeguarding

Download safeguarding policy