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Westminster Information, Advice and Support Service (IASS) are an in-house service that offers advice independently from the City of Westminster Council. The IASS sits within the Directorate of Children and Young People Services. We offer impartial information, support and advice to children and young people aged 0-25 years old and their families. Those aged 14 and upwards can contact us independently.
Safeguarding and sharing information is vital in promoting the safety and welfare of the children and young people that we meet. Information of a safeguarding nature should be recorded and appropriate action should be taken.
Safeguarding is everybody’s business. We all have a responsibility to ensure that any concerns to the safety of families we meet and speak to are discussed and highlighted to the appropriate services and in a timely and safe way.
This policy is to help IASS staff know where to seek general, immediate and urgent support and advice locally, when there are safeguarding concerns for both vulnerable Adults and Children.
This document is provides practical guidance and information on how to progress matters of Safeguarding concern.
Westminster IASS follow and refer to Westminster Local Authority Safeguarding policy
Remember that the Data Protection Act 1998 and human rights law are not barriers to justified information sharing but provide a framework to ensure that personal information about living individuals is shared appropriately.
Staff/volunteers should be open and honest with the individual, where appropriate, from the onset about why, what, how and with whom information will, or could be shared (see IASS confidentiality policy) and seek their agreement, unless it is unsafe or inappropriate to do so.
Concerns about the safety of a child
Staff/Volunteers, as members of the public, have a duty to protect the welfare of the children in the family they support. Child protection should be a core element of the course of preparation for Staff/Volunteers to ensure they are aware of:
- the signs of abuse
- the appropriate procedures to follow should they have a concern about a child
- the support available to themselves
Staff/Volunteers who, in the course of their work with Westminster IASS have a concern about the safety of a child should immediately contact the IASS Manager. If this person is not available, they should contact one of the group’s named contacts. See below for list.
Referring on concerns to the relevant agency
If, after consideration as described above it is agreed that there is concern about the safety of a child, this concern should be passed on to the relevant statutory agency. The IASS Manager should ensure that the family is aware of these concerns and how they are being dealt with unless this would put the welfare of the child in jeopardy, e.g. in the case of suspected sexual abuse. Contact with the agency should be through the IASS Manager unless the degree of urgency or other factors make this impossible.
Westminster IAS Service Manager will follow the Westminster City Councils Local Area Child Protection Group referral procedures. Relevant information should be recorded and made available at the point of referral. The responsibility to investigate lies with the statutory agencies, not with Westminster IASS.
Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults
Westminster IASS also has a duty to protect from abuse vulnerable adults with whom we come into contact.
The purpose of this policy is to state this explicitly and to describe the behaviours and actions expected of our Employees and Volunteers. Abuse is the violation of an individual’s human and civil rights by any other person or carer. It can result from the action or inaction by a carer or any other person. For an adult, abuse includes physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, financial or material abuse, emotional or psychological abuse, and discriminatory abuse. Historical abuse also comes within the scope of this policy; there may be occasions when an adult will disclose abuse (either sexual or physical) which occurred in the past, or during their childhood. This information needs to be treated in exactly the same way as a disclosure or suspicion of current abuse. The reason for this is that the abuser may still represent a risk to vulnerable adults, or to children now.
All Westminster IASS Staff receive training on Safeguarding by Local Safeguarding Children’s Board.
Equal Opportunities and Accessibility
IASS will not discriminate in the provision of services to the public and accept its responsibilities to comply with all relevant legislation including the Sex Discrimination Acts 1975 and 1986, the Equal Pay Act 1970, the Race Relations Act 1976, the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, and the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1975.
All individuals will be treated in a fair an equal manner and in accordance with the law regardless of, colour, race, marital status, disability, ethnic or national origin, gender (including gender reassignment), sexual orientation, religious or philosophical beliefs or age.
We are committed to providing a service including our website that is accessible to the widest possible audience, regardless of ability or technology and so we have tried as far as is reasonably possible to make our website and your contact with us, whether via the telephone or face to face accessible for everyone.
If service users are unable to visit us in our office, we take into account your individual case and accessibility needs and make provisions accordingly. Outside of our standard operating hours, we can offer appointments after 5pm on weekdays.
Who are we?
Special Educational Needs and Disability Westminster Information, Advice and Support Service (IASS) is a statutory service, that offers impartial information, advice and support to families of children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities, living in Westminster. We are part of Children’s Services, but our role is at arms-length of the local authority enabling us to operate independently, to ensure our impartiality.
Westminster IASS respects your privacy and is committed to protecting your personal data, being transparent about how we collect and use your data. We will comply with any data protection legislation currently in force.
The law states the personal information we hold must be:
- Use lawfully, fairly and in a transparent way
- Collected only for valid purposes and not used in any way that is unsuited with those purposes.
- Relevant to purposes we have told you about and limited only to those purposes
- Accurate and kept up to date
- Kept only as long as necessary for the purposes we have told you about
- Kept securely
The information we record
We hold personal information about you or your child/ren which may include your name, date of birth, address, gender, ethnicity, any area of difficulty and whether you have a disability, so that we can make sure our services meet your needs. We will also record information about the service we provide to you, including case discussion and follow up work we do.
What we do with your information
The Information we take from you is used to;
- Help us decide how best we can help you
- To meet appropriate requirements of the law or regulatory bodies
- To record how we have worked with you
- To assess how successful, we have been in helping you and to report this to the organisations that are funding the work we do
We hold your information safely on a stand-alone database which can only be accessed by Westminster IASS staff. Once a case is open, we will record any actions undertaken. These may include phone calls or attending a meeting with you. We will use your personal information to provide services or information to you e.g. our termly newsletter, or to create anonymised data for general reporting and statistical purposes. We may from time to time invite you to take part in surveys to try and improve our service delivery. We will ask for your consent to use and store your personal information (securely, under data protection legislation) and you may give this consent verbally or in writing. You have the right to withdraw this consent at any time. You can ask us to delete your personal information at any time.
Will we share your information with anyone else?
No. Unless we have your permission to do so, we won’t share your personal information with any organisations or individuals outside of Westminster IASS. The only exception would be where a failure to share your personal information would lead to a risk of significant harm to you or others.
Can you see the information we hold about you?
Yes, you can:
- Request access to your personal information that Westminster IASS holds about you (a data subject access request)
- choose to receive that personal information on paper or electronic form.
- You have the right to request corrections any inaccuracies in the personal information that we hold about you
- you can also choose to reuse your personal information for your own use, e.g. give it to another organisation.
- Request the erasure of your personal information, asking us to delete or remove it where there is no good reason for us processing it.
- Request the restriction of us processing your information, asking us to suspend the processing of personal information about your, if you want to establish its accuracy and/or the reason for processing it.
What about our website?
Westminster IASS operates its own website (www.westminsteriass.co.uk ). We (anonymously) monitor visitors to the site so that amongst other things we can see which sections are being viewed, how long for and where the visitors came from all of which is invaluable information for us in terms of developing the site and monitoring our performance.
How can you get in touch with us?
If you would like to know more how we look after your personal information, or would like request a copy of the personal information that we hold about you, you can contact us in the following ways:
Phone: 0207 641 5355
Post: First Floor, 215 Lisson Grove, NW8 8LF
IASS is committed to continually improving the support it provides, and considers any feedback received will be an opportunity to
- listen, review, respond and take action/apply changes if necessary
- help shape future practice
- share best practice and celebrate achievements