In conversation with a board safeguarding champion

Last updated: 15 Dec 2023 Topics: Safeguarding children

In this blog we hear from Ceri Wynne about his experience as an independent board member and sports volunteer. Ceri discusses what it means to be part a sports board, how this affects safeguarding decisions as well as how these decisions impact sports.

Ceri currently sits on the board of Welsh weightlifting as an independent, non-executive Director, with responsibility around governance and safeguarding.

Ceri, what is your experience as a board member within sport?

''I have been a board member for 12 years now. I started as a independent board member in 2011 with Archery GB (AGB). AGB was developing its safeguarding policies and infrastructure, at this time. I found the AGB determined to work with partners to develop best practice.

''This was the reason I was keen to be involved, it was clear there was an understanding that the sport, in line with all others, had a responsibility to address a misunderstood issue.''

How do you contribute to keeping children and young people safe as a board member?

''The role has two aspects:

  1. offering an independent, critical view of how the national governing body (NGB) is seeking to address a situation or concern
  2. to support the board in developing and updating appropriate policies in line with best practice. This is usually done by linking the board with CPSU, the British NGB or other, more experienced NGBs.''

''I see my role as a non-exec board member, is to stand back, take a wider view of the policies and processes that are being utilised to address the situation and offer a considered opinion. I utilise my experience of case handling to link decisions made (or not made) to adopted policy and process.''

Do you have regular input into the club or activity?

''As a NGB board member there is not significant contact with the club network. Where this does occur, its usually linked to a case where the club is seeking advice and guidance from the NGB.

''To me this seems to be fundamental role of a modern well governed NGB. Clubs are often nervous of taking initial action on a concern. Safeguarding is often seen as a minefield for clubs and leadership is needed and sought from the NGB.''

Key point:

''It is vital that the NGB liaises with its club network to ensure the adoption of best practice policies and procedures.''

Do you work closely with others professional or leaders within your sports club or activity?

''Very much so. Although I have a lifetimes experience of working in sport, I know little of archery or weightlifting – the two sports I support. So, it is crucial that you are sensitive to the other board members who are experts in their field. My role is to comment on policy and procedure, and not how the sport is managed day to day.

''Alternatively, sports often think safeguarding issues don’t affect their sport. The CPSU have always been a crucial link. As well as a training provider, staff there are always happy to advise and create networks across sports.''

For further information take a look at our pages on putting safeguards in place or sign up for safeguarding for management board members training

How would you raise a safeguarding concern in your role, if you had one?

''There are several statutory and voluntary contacts that concerned individuals can contact with a safeguarding concern. A big part of this challenge is to recognise the issue in the first place. It would depend, which environment I was in and the perceived seriousness of the concern.

''If I felt the concern was so serious that an individual was in danger, I may intervene myself or contact the police. If the concern centred around inappropriate language or behaviour, I would likely intervene directly and report the concern to an appropriate person (club welfare officer or safeguarding lead person). In my current NGB board role, I would contact the staff safeguarding lead.''

Is there something you are proud of or, enjoy the most about being a board member?

''Not proud, not really! I don’t really look at my work in that way. I feel I have some experience to offer in best safeguarding practice. I love sport and all it offers, and by marrying the two I can help sport improve. I’ve always been annoyed that sport has traditionally been seen as a 'macho', insular culture, and this work addresses elements of that.

''The best thing about being a board member and working within sport over a number of years, is the gradual and sometimes seismic developments in a sports safeguarding governance and culture. This often only takes place when cases start to be addressed, which can be seen as negative but in reality is a positive journey for the NGB in adopting best practice.''