Safeguarding Policy

1. Introduction

Zero Gravity Tech Ltd, company number 12091675 (“Zero Gravity”), takes seriously its responsibilities to safeguard and promote the welfare of children by following best practice guidance on safeguarding to create this safeguarding policy (the “Policy”) and embedding safeguarding features into its mentoring platform: www.zerogravity.co.uk and app.zerogravity.co.uk (the ”Platform”).

For the purposes of this Policy, the term “Zero Gravity” refers to both Zero Gravity Tech Ltd and the Zero Gravity Fund, charity number 1188177.

For the purpose of this Policy, the term “Zero Gravity Staff” will be used to describe:

  • Zero Gravity board members;
  • employees of Zero Gravity;
  • those people contracted as consultants by Zero Gravity;
  • anyone who is a mentor on the Platform;
  • anyone who engages with, at the direction of Zero Gravity, children, as part of the Zero Gravity programme.

The terms ‘child’ or ‘children’ include any person under the age of eighteen (as defined in The Children Act 1989). The term ‘mentee’ refers to children who have signed up and been accepted onto the Platform.

This Policy should be read in conjunction with the Terms & Conditions and the Privacy & Cookies Policy.

We may update this safeguarding policy from time to time and we will post any changes on the Platform. This Policy was last updated on 20 April 2021.

2. Scope

This Policy aims to ensure that all persons, in particular children, using Zero Gravity services can do so safely, free from abuse and discrimination on any grounds. All Zero Gravity Staff will be required to confirm that they have read, understood and will abide by this Policy at all times.

3. Purpose

The purpose of this Policy is to ensure:

  • compliance with the following legislation and statutory guidance:
    • DfE ‘Working together to safeguard Children’ Guidance 2010
    • The Children Act 1989
    • Children Act 2004
    • Children and Young Person’s Act 2008;
  • the safeguarding and welfare of children and other persons using the Platform;
  • awareness is raised among Zero Gravity Staff of child protection and safeguarding issues; and
  • procedures for identifying and reporting cases or suspected cases of abuse are in place and followed by Zero Gravity Staff.

4. Registration of mentees and mentors

The Platform has been designed such that:

  • only mentors who currently study at a UK university can sign up and register on the Platform. Mentors must have an active university email address and without this email address they cannot register on the Platform;
  • before being matched with a mentee, mentors must complete an onboarding process on the Platform which includes training on safeguarding responsibilities and reporting procedures;
  • there is a rating system that encourages mentees to provide regular feedback on mentors and the quality of their mentoring relationships;
  • where Zero Gravity Staff are required to hold a DBS enhanced certificate, pursuant to this Policy, such certificates will be made available to parents/guardians of mentees or partner organisations (including but not limited to universities, supporting companies and third sector partners) on request at the discretion of the SPO (as defined below);
  • any mentee or mentor who does not comply with the Terms & Conditions, which shall incorporate this Policy, will be suspended from using the Platform pending an investigation by the SPO and BSC (as defined below). Relevant authorities will be contacted if required by law, including but not limited to the Police and/or the relevant Local Authority Children’s Social Care team.

5. Platform communication and privacy

The Platform has been designed such that:

  • the delivery of Zero Gravity services (including but not limited to mentoring services) does not require physical meetings nor any communication between mentee and mentor outside of the Platform;
  • the contents of all communication between mentors and mentees is sent via the Platform in order to preserve the anonymity of the mentee to the mentor;
  • the personal information and contact details of mentees will remain private and confidential and will not be available to mentors;
  • the personal information and contact details of mentors will remain private and confidential and will not be available to mentees.

6. Recording of video sessions

The Platform has been designed such that:

  • it facilitates the video recording of mentoring sessions for safeguarding purposes only. These recordings may be requested from both the mentor and the mentee at any time and may:
    • be reviewed as part of an investigation into any safeguarding report made to the SPO or other Zero Gravity Staff by a person using Zero Gravity services; and/or
    • be provided to the relevant authorities if legally obligated to do so.

7. Key Responsibilities - Zero Gravity board directors only

The Zero Gravity board of directors (the “Board”) shall:

  • review this Policy and the safeguarding features on the Platform on an annual basis and will, if required, oversee updates to both;
  • appoint one board member to be the Board Safeguarding Champion (the “BSC”) who shall have the responsibility of overseeing the conduct of the SPO (defined below) and reviewing the SPO annual review findings and her/his recommendations in readiness for consideration at the first meeting of the Board in each calendar year.
    • As of the date of this version of the Policy, William Westwater has agreed to be appointed as BSC;
  • appoint one Zero Gravity Staff member to be designated as the Safeguarding Protection Officer (“SPO”) who shall be responsible for coordinating, processing, reporting to relevant authorities and keeping records of all safeguarding reports and incidents.
    • As of the date of this version of the Policy, Kitty Goodwin has agreed to be appointed as SPO.
  • include safeguarding as a standing agenda item for each Board meeting to ensure the Board are alerted to developments between annual formal SPO led reviews of the Policy;
  • ensure that each member of the Board holds an enhanced DBS certificate when his/her services necessitate such clearance.

8. Key Responsibilities - Zero Gravity Staff excluding mentors (“Zero Gravity Core Staff”) only

Zero Gravity Core Staff shall:

  • have a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children;
  • sign a copy of this Policy confirming they have read, understood and will comply with its content;
  • hold a current enhanced DBS certificate when his/her services necessitate such clearance;
  • never agree to meet with a mentee, who is a child, on a one-to-one basis in person
  • comply with the terms set out in the Privacy Policy and only use mentee personal data for the explicit purpose consented to by the mentee and/or to safeguard and promote the welfare of mentees.

9. Key Responsibilities - Zero Gravity mentors only

All Zero Gravity mentors:

  • have a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children;
  • must on registration, confirm through ticking the appropriate electronic box that they have read, understood and will comply with this Policy;
  • must ensure all contact with mentees only occurs on the Platform;
  • shall restrict their guidance to the following areas: maximising academic attainment, advice on applying to university/for a position of employment, university academic life and/or interviewing skills;
  • shall not share any contact details or other information which may undermine the anonymity of the mentor to the mentee;
  • shall not solicit any contact details or other information which may undermine the anonymity of the mentee to the mentor;
  • should never agree to meet with a mentee in person prior to, whilst, or following their engagement with Zero Gravity;
  • shall ensure all video mentoring sessions on the Platform take place in an appropriate environment that does not display any inappropriate images or activity;
  • shall not engage in, incite or condone inappropriate behaviour or illegal activity on the Platform or otherwise;
  • must record every video mentoring session initiated through the Platform using the inbuilt recording functionality. They will store recordings for a minimum period of 28 days and provide these recordings to Zero Gravity on request;
  • shall ensure that all language used and comments made (verbally or in text format) when carrying out Zero Gravity mentor duties will not offend, be in any way discriminatory nor bring Zero Gravity into disrepute.

10. Reporting Responsibilities – All Zero Gravity Staff

For the purposes of this policy:

  • a “safeguarding query” is a question that relates to safeguarding but is not an allegation or concern;
  • a “safeguarding concern” is any concern that a mentee is, or may be at risk of, neglect or abuse;
  • a “safeguarding allegation” is when a member of Zero Gravity Staff is alleged to have:
    • behaved in a manner that has harmed a mentee or may have harmed a mentee;
    • possibly committed a criminal offence against or related to a mentee; or
    • behaved in a way that indicates that they could pose a risk of harm to children.

If an individual or organisation has a safeguarding query, then the SPO will ensure that:

If a member of Zero Gravity Staff has a safeguarding concern, then they must ensure:

  • they inform the SPO using the contact details below or via the safeguarding alert button on the Platform;
  • they immediately complete the Incident Reporting Form and send it to the SPO. The SPO will assess the risk and involve any relevant agencies or services, including the police and social services;
  • the SPO will immediately request access to all available video session recordings between the mentoring pair from both the mentor and mentee and store these for investigation; and
  • if the mentee is in immediate danger or a crime has been committed, they dial 999.

If a mentee discloses a safeguarding concern or allegation to a member of Zero Gravity Staff, then the respective member of Zero Gravity Stuff must ensure:

  • they inform the SPO using the contact details below or via the safeguarding alert button on the Platform;
  • they advise the mentee that they will offer them support but that they will have to pass the information onto the SPO;
  • they listen carefully to the mentee without interrupting them, seeking clarification with open and non-leading questions;
  • they reassure the mentee that sharing their concern/allegation was the right thing to do;
  • they immediately complete the Incident Reporting Form and send it to the SPO. The SPO will assess the risk and involve any relevant agencies or services, including the police and social services.

All safeguarding concerns and allegations must be sent from an email address associated with a user account on the Platform. Safeguarding reports which are made from email addresses that are not associated with a user account on the Platform will only be acted upon once verifiable Zero Gravity membership details have been provided.

If any of the above activities relate to the SPO, the Incident Reporting Form should be sent to the BSC.

11. Contact Details

Role: Safeguarding Protection Officer

Name: Kitty Goodwin

Email: safeguarding@zerogravity.co.uk

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