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  • Writer's picture15-Minute Friendships

Call Out for Advice & Information on Safeguarding

As many of you may know by now, 15-Minute Friendships is a voluntary project that is currently facilitated by an *individual. We are not registered as a charity or organisation and, while that may be an option for the future, the project is still very much in its infancy right now.


While we have our own Safeguarding policy that we review regularly, it is currently flawed due to the fact that the only person who can investigate any concerns about the project is the individual responsible for the project. Because this constitutes a conflict of interest, our policy recommends that anyone with serious safeguarding concerns approach the relevant authorities.


Ideally, we would like to be able to offer a more robust safeguarding process that doesn't necessarily have to start with contacting authorities. This is because many authorities are limited in the ways that they can act (often only being able to intervene if a crime has been committed) and because some people may not feel comfortable interacting with authorities like the police.


With that in mind, we are looking into options for engaging a third-party organisation (not directly affiliated with the project or host) to assist with any safeguarding concerns regarding 15-Minute Friendships. We have been researching this online but are hitting some roadblocks due to us being an independent project as opposed to a charity or organisation.


We've reached out to a couple of services such as Voluntary Action Leeds and Leeds LGBTQ+ Community Consortium, but they haven't been able to advise. So, we thought we would put a call out to you lovely people.


How You Can Help


We want to encourage anyone who may be able to offer advice or information with regards to services that provide safeguarding assistance for projects involving adults to get in touch with us by emailing 15minfriendships@gmail.com. We are hoping to activate a service that would be able to receive, investigate, and address safeguarding concerns about the project as an impartial and independent body.


Because 15-Minute Friendships is a voluntary project that is **not currently eligible for funding, we do not have much in the way of budget for this (all expenses related to the project come out of the host's personal income). So, we are looking for a low-cost or free service if possible.


"Have There Been Any Safeguarding Concerns So Far?"


You'll be pleased to know that, as far as we're aware, there haven't been any safeguarding issues since our very first pop-up in July 2023. We're simply looking into this because we understand the importance of proper processes and want to offer the safest environment possible for our attendees.


"Why Not Just Register as a Charity/Organisation?"


There are a lot of steps to registering as a charity/organisation, and this often involves putting together a board of trustees, organising funding, and seeking legal advice/services. 15-Minute Friendships is roughly two months old and the long-term need for, viability, and structure of the project has yet to be reviewed. If things go well, registering as a charity/organisation may be on the cards for the future, but this is a way off yet.


*If the project is ran by an individual, why do you say "we're doing X" when writing about it? This is partly because of formal writing practises and partly to maintain a degree of separation between the project and the individual running it.


**This is due to the project not having charity/organisation status, which is perfectly understandable because there needs to be a level of accountability within the project in regard to the way funding is spent, and an individual cannot hold themselves accountable.


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