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Safeguarding guidance: Charity Commission emphases, updates and guidance

Photo of Lourens Du Plessis Lourens du Plessis
2 min

Safeguarding is a key topic of interest for the Charity Commission, and rightly so: Trust in charities is easily damaged (or enhanced) through how seriously charities take their responsibilities to protect their beneficiaries, volunteers and staff.

The Commission has updated and republished their guidance for trustees in a concise way in recent years, outlining trustees’ responsibilities to:

  • identify and manage risks
  • have suitable policies and practices in place
  • ensure the required checks are carried out on staff and volunteers
  • respond to any incidents in the right way
  • handling and reporting incidents and allegations (including updated guidance on reporting serious incidents)

This new overview guidance also signposts to useful resources, such as more detailed guidance, the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) and policies.

The Charity Commission emphasises that safeguarding is a key governance priority for trustees of all charities and not just those working with groups traditionally considered to be at risk. In fulfilling trustee duties, trustees must take reasonable steps to protect from harm all people who come into contact with the charity. This includes staff and volunteers as well as others that benefit from the charity’s work. The guidance speaks about:

  • having safeguarding policies that are properly applied throughout the charity
  • making use of DBS checks and how to treat workers from overseas
  • protecting staff and volunteers
  • safeguarding children or adults at risk
  • particular issues when working overseas

The main development in the detailed guidance since 2021 is a new section on online risks. The Commission considers the specific risks related to this area, and the steps needed to protect people from harm. The issues are summarised under ‘Content’ (who controls what is posted online by the charity?), ‘Contact’ (how do people engage with one another online?), and ‘Conduct’ (how does the charity monitor what people do, say and share on its channels?)

The guidance will be particularly useful for churches and charities who run (or are planning to launch) online or hybrid services or activities.


It is important for churches to understand that this extends beyond the historic focus on child protection and ‘Sunday school’, to issues of how and where pastoral care is delivered, the way concerns are raised and handled and who is involved in that process.

We do commend this to all churches and Christian charities, especially those who have not had a major review of safeguarding in the last couple of years. What was sufficient and appropriate some time ago, might not be enough in the changed climate we live in.

Sadly, many people do not consider churches to be places of safety. The Commission wishes to emphasise to the faith charity sector that this really is a high priority for all charities.

Summary Guidance

Detailed Guidance for Trustees


Quarterly emails for trustees, treasurers and Church and Charity Leaders. Practical tools, technical resources and expert guidance to safeguard your mission and ministry. 

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Written by

Lourens du Plessis

Lourens leads our teams who guide and strengthen churches and Christian charities with their governance and finances. Our professional services include independent examinations of charities’ accounts, an award-winning payroll bureau, consultancy and governance advisory services and helping charities get registered with the Charity Commission. He joined Stewardship in 2020 and brings with him a wealth of experience in both the charity and commercial sectors. He’s a member of the Charity Community Advisory Group of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, and regularly interacts with regulators in the sector.

Before joining Stewardship he worked for an international church developing governance and financial stewardship for various ministries. Prior to that Lourens had a senior role at a Big Four firm in the City, advising international investment banks. He is a qualified Chartered Accountant and has a postgraduate degree in Theology.

Lourens grew up in South Africa, but has spent the majority of his working life in London.  He is a member of the International Presbyterian Church in Ealing. He is also a trustee of a number of other churches and charities, including a new pregnancy counselling centre, and he’s involved in initiatives to help Christians better integrate their faith and work.

Lourens supports causes which encourage bringing the gospel to people in his neighbourhood and to the ends of the earth, and particularly supporting persecuted Christians around the world.