Our commitment to safeguarding

Safeguarding is a vital part of working at Restless Development and it is important that a strong safeguarding system underpins everything we do.  Our safeguarding system is in place to ensure we prevent and respond to issues of safeguarding across our agency. 

Our approach to safeguarding is one of continual learning and adaptation, which involves listening and learning from our experience, the experience of people we serve, our partners, and the development sector at large. 

If you have a concern related to safeguarding and our work, please email You can view our safeguarding policy here.

What does safeguarding mean?

Safeguarding means preventing harm, and promoting the health, well-being and human rights of children, young people and adults. 

Safeguarding to us means working with the people we serve to ensure we prevent and effectively respond to safeguarding incidents.

Safeguarding includes our responsibility to protect staff and volunteers when they are vulnerable, for example when they are ill or at risk of harm or abuse.

What you can expect from us.

  • Our Safeguarding Policy outlines the process that must be followed in the event of suspicion of harm being done to a child or person by Restless Development’s staff, volunteers, operations or programmes. As part of this policy, an established crisis management plan governs the response for all serious incidents. 
  • A safeguarding system that has been evaluated externally multiple times in recent years with positive results and actions to strengthen our approach. The Charity Commission are satisfied that we meet their required assurance thresholds in relation to safeguarding.
  • Our responses to historic incidents related safeguarding have been reviewed externally and found to be satisfactory by relevant sector bodies 
  • We are committed to listening and learning from volunteers and community members to continually improve
  • We build and maintain a culture conducive to the wellbeing and safety of all those with whom we work 
  • Staff and volunteers are trained in our safeguarding policy, our safeguarding code of conduct and our whistleblowing policy (Section 15 in Employee Handbook). 

Although the bullet points above demonstrate strength in our safeguarding systems, any number of incidents, allegations or people who do not thrive in their experience with us is one too many. We highlight these strengths with humility and with a drive from the top to constantly grow and improve.

Who is responsible for safeguarding?

Every member of staff, volunteer or partner, anyone involved in our work, is responsible for safeguarding, and we support all staff and volunteers with training in safeguarding to help them prevent, respond to and report safeguarding incidents. 

Safeguarding is a collective responsibility, but we do have a dedicated team who lead our approach. Our Safeguarding team includes our lead Safeguarding Officer who is our Operations Director, our Head of Safeguarding, and our Senior Safety and Security Managers. 

They are supported by a staff team of seven trained safeguarding officers and their work is overseen by two members of our international Board of Trustees who are trained as safeguarding officers. 

In each of our country Hubs, our Directors are trained in our advanced Safeguarding training and are supported by a further 19 advanced trained officers across the Hubs.

If you have a concern related to safeguarding and our work, please email

Reporting to regulators and sector funders.

We report in line with all requirements to the Charity Commission, our sector regulator, as well as to our institutional partners including but not limited to: UK Department of International Development, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, MasterCard Foundation, Comic Relief, multiple UN agencies.

Reviewing Safeguarding at Restless Development.

We have confidence in our Safeguarding systems but understand the benefits of continually reviewing them with the support of external expertise.

Between 2018 and 2019, we undertook three independent, external reviews of our safeguarding systems.

  • In 2018, MannionDaniels, due diligence lead for all UK Department for International Development (DFID) grants to NGOs, carried out an external review of our safeguarding systems in line with DFID’s 2018 Enhanced Due Diligence for Safeguarding. This due diligence process found that Restless Development takes a proactive approach to continual learning and development [on safeguarding] and can be seen as a leader in this area, has detailed organisational safeguarding policies and procedures to manage this risk and that over the past decade all incidents were fully investigated with action taken including informing relevant national authorities as appropriate.
  • In 2019 Restless Development contracted an external consultant to run an independent review of its safeguarding systems and culture. The review found that we are meeting our safeguarding responsibilities in regard to strategic leadership, governance, staff development, volunteer training, safer recruitment and crucially in handling safeguarding concerns that are raised.
  • In 2019, our latest Annual Accountability Report was reviewed by the Independent Review Panel Feedback of Accountable Now including relevant sections regarding our safeguarding systems. The panel feedback was positive on our systems, commitment, training and response to safeguarding, safety and related issues. Feedback from the panel will soon be published online by Accountable Now.

Continual learning & improvement in safeguarding

Reviews that we have conducted ourselves along with external reviews listed above have helped us strengthen our work in relation to safeguarding.

Training of Board & Staff. All of our staff are required to be trained in our safeguarding approach annually; our Senior Leadership Team looks at completion rates quarterly to ensure global accountability across all locations and all staff. On our global board, two of our trustees including our Board Chair have been trained to the advanced safeguarding level.

Advanced Safeguarding Leads. In addition to the standard safeguarding training for all staff, over 11% of our global staff have been trained to the advanced level as Safeguarding Officers. Each of our hub offices has a dedicated safeguarding team in country.

Head of Safeguarding. We have created and staffed a new full time, senior role exclusively focussed to safeguarding in our global operations. This builds from existing staffing in safety, security, volunteer support, and staff wellbeing to further increase our leadership in this area.

Listening Exercise. We conducted a four-country listening exercise with former volunteers to learn about their end to end experience as volunteers with Restless Development and to seek their expertise on how we can continually improve our programmes and the volunteer experience.

Dedicated Leadership Commitment. In every major leadership space in the past year we have prioritised safeguarding not just as a topic but as a fundamental commitment across all that we do. This commitment is pivotal in demonstrating to all staff and volunteers our commitment to safeguarding.

Internal Audit & Internal Reviews. Testing of safeguarding standards, controls and culture is a core part of our internal audit programmes and of all internal reviews that we conduct on our offices annually as part of our quality assurance function. 

Learning and sharing in the sector. As we continue to learn and improve our systems, we’re also working to share, lead and learn with the sector at large. We are active members of safeguarding groups in our sector; have conducted due diligence on our partners and are working with them to continue to improve their systems and to learn with us; we have partnered with DFID to run a Wilton Park dialogue on safeguarding. 

Culture, values and safeguarding  

We believe culture is an essential tool to reduce issues related to safeguarding. Our organisation’s culture focuses on our people – their health, well-being and happiness.  

Our recent agency-wide annual staff survey revealed an exceptionally positive culture that is a key enabler in making our safeguarding commitments real. The share of staff globally who agreed with the following statements reflects a culture that underpins our approach to safeguarding.

  • 98% of staff say we have a strong values that are upheld and challenged when not lived out 
  • 97% of staff say we have a culture of continuous development and are always improving how we work 
  • 97% of staff say we are transparent and accountable to young people and stakeholders
  • 94% of staff say we prioritise safety of our people 
  • 94% of staff say we aspire to high performance and aren’t afraid to challenge ourselves and to fix problems 

If you have a concern related to safeguarding and our work, please email For more information on what our confidential reporting process involves visit our whistleblowing page.

Download our safeguarding policy

Global Safeguarding Policy 2023
PDF / 174.54 KB

Cases of safeguarding incidents.

While our priority is to do everything in our power to prevent incidents from happening, unfortunately sometimes safeguarding incidents do occur, and each year we publish the number of incidents in our annual report. We will always prioritise responding to safeguarding incidents, ensuring individuals involved are safe from harm, carrying out a full investigation to establish the details, taking action as necessary, and importantly learn from what happened to prevent it happening in the future. 

Volunteer and staff feedback is a crucial part of improving the way we operate, and we are grateful to any volunteer or staff member who raises concerns and helps us use their feedback to change practices.

In 2018 safeguarding incidents that had occurred in 2017 on International Citizen Service placements in South Africa were reported in The Independent, a UK newspaper. At the time that they took place, we carried out thorough investigations, which were guided by our safeguarding policies, a survivor centered approach, our safety and security protocols, and consultation with relevant authorities. These incidents were reported and concluded in line with FCDO (then DFID) and Charity Commission guidance.  An external review of our Safeguarding protocols and responses to these incidents found them to be detailed, appropriate and effective. 

We subsequently learned that some volunteers did not feel adequately supported by us and we are deeply sorry for their experiences. As a result, in 2018, we reopened investigations into these incidents and met volunteers from our South Africa cycles to offer further support and counselling and to try to address the issues they have raised.

We also commissioned an external, independent review of our safeguarding systems and culture. The review found that we are meeting our safeguarding responsibilities in regards to strategic leadership, governance, staff development, volunteer training, safe recruitment, and crucially in how we handle safeguarding concerns that are raised.

While we are confident that our strong safeguarding recruitment and training policies were effective in relation to the incidents mentioned in the article, Restless Development continues to push itself to adapt, to improve and to keep its safety, safeguarding and well-being systems leading best practice. Any number of incidents, allegations or people who do not thrive in their experience is one too many, and we will never cease in our commitment to continually improve in this vital element of our work.