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Playing our Role - protecting our customers from harm and abuse
As an organisation, Torus is committed to ensuring that its every adult, child and young person can live a life that is free from harm, neglect and abuse.
To underpin this commitment, we have recently undertaken a full safeguarding peer review with Linda Williams, Independent Safeguarding Consultant, to assess strengths and identifying areas for improvement in safeguarding children, young people and adults at risk.
In response to this review, we are launching a new three year Safeguarding Strategy that sets out how we will work in partnership with partners and communities to promote wellbeing and keep people safe. Focusing on, early intervention, prevention and continuous improvement.
To support this refreshed approach, we have a re-invigorated Safeguarding Operational Group and have appointed a new dedicated, Safeguarding Lead, Jo Aston, who over the next couple of years, will be focused on championing and raising the profile of revised Safeguarding approach and culture, including domestic abuse across the Torus Group.
Talking about her new role, Jo, said:
“This new role demonstrates our commitment to improving the lives of our customers.
“Having worked with our most vulnerable clients for the last 10 years, I am passionate about making sure that people live safe lives and get the support they need to achieve that.
“I am looking forward to improving staff awareness and skills, developing consistent practices and embedding a culture of safeguarding through training, awareness raising events and sharing best practice.
“Working in partnership with other organisations will also be the best way to ensure we can make real change and deliver effective multi-agency safeguarding practices for both children and adults, across Torus communities.”
With support of our Tenant Voice team, tenants have also played a major role in the review. Seven tenants took part in a focus group with Independent Safeguarding Consultant, to talk about safeguarding and their experience as a Torus tenant.
Tenants have also been involved in the review of safeguarding policies, including Safeguarding Adults, Safeguarding Children and Domestic Abuse and Harmful Practices. In May 2021, six tenants attended a consultation session with Torus staff to learn about the updated policies, to ask questions and provide feedback. In addition, 11 tenants completed an online consultation survey to provide feedback on the policies, to make sure the policies were understandable, comprehensive and fit for purpose.
The group found the session informative and have asked for further sessions to learn more about the support Torus provides which are currently being arranged.
Cath Murray-Howard, Chief Operating Officer, added:
“Safeguarding, tenants, residents and our colleagues means playing our role to enable people living a safe life, which is free from abuse – safeguarding means something at Torus.
“The peer review told us that Torus is doing a good job and that we are compliant, but we want to be so much better.
“A key part of the launch of our new strategy is supporting our colleagues, all 1,500 of them plus our boards to understand the key and critical part they play in keeping people safe, so the training plan is integral to this.
“From now on, we are asking ourselves to ‘turn on our eyes’, to use professional curiosity, which will lead to spotting when something is not quite right and then acting appropriately.”
Safeguarding covers a range of areas, including, but not limited to; Neglect, self-neglect, physical abuse, emotional abuse, domestic abuse, sexual abuse, organisational abuse, discriminatory abuse and financial abuse.
“Torus’s approach to safeguarding our tenants really does change lives. A recent example is of a fiercely independent and private 78-year-old lady, a Torus Tenant who was being financially abused by a ‘friend’ who has unwantedly moved into her home to use drugs and entertain his friends, but despite this she was adamant she did not need any help, even though she was missing rent payments and was struggling to feed herself.
“Through determination of the Neighbourhood Officer to build her trust, the tenant finally engaged with us, and we were able to remove the unwanted visitor, maximise her income by making sure she was accessing all benefits she was entitled to and make sure she has the on-going support of the Torus Support Network, Staying Home Team.”
The tenant commented;
“I can’t thank everybody enough for what they have done to help me. Not only do I now feel safe and happy, I know that not only will I get the help and support I need.”
To support the new strategy, all staff from ground level to Board will all receive tailored training based on their own role within safeguarding to given them the skill to spot the signs and act appropriately. Training will also be extended to tenants, via Tenant Voice.
We all have a responsibility to be alert to possible concerns and act to safeguard others in our families and communities who may be less able to protect themselves.
If you are concerned that a child, young person or a vulnerable adult is at risk of or experiencing abuse or neglect, or you yourself are a victim of abuse, you should report it straight away so that the appropriate services can take the appropriate actions to prevent harm.
There is lots of support available, you can contact your local council if you have concerns over an adult or child:
St Helens Council
Adult (Monday – Friday 9-5): 01744 676600
Child (Monday – Friday 9-5): 01744 676767
Out of hours (Emergency Duty Team): 0845 0500 148