How safeguarding is at the heart of Southampton

20 Nov 2021
Southampton safeguarding v3

Southampton's Kim Mundy describes the ways in which the club protect people in their care

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Southampton Football Club is working hard to ensure that everyone connected with the club has the right to enjoy football and participate in activities in a safe and inclusive environment and that everyone understands the importance of good safeguarding practices.

Open culture

"It's about keeping everyone safe," Mundy says. "We've got a real duty of care to make sure that we protect anyone we work with."

"We're trying to forge a culture which is really open and people want to come and speak to us if they're a bit concerned about anything.

"We are keeping the message simple, if you see something that doesn't quite feel right, come and have a conversation. Having that conversation and that open door is really important."

Today, The FA has launched Play Safe, it's National Safeguarding campaign, and Mundy says safeguarding is embedded across the club as they, the Premier League and outside agencies work together to protect staff, players and participants who engage with the club.

Reaching out early

To help Mundy and her team be proactive in spotting and addressing possible safeguarding issues, they are visible across all areas of the club, including events and matches.

Southampton also have 28 "safeguarding champions", who are staff who have volunteered to support the club's safeguarding agenda and are from a wide range of departments who help to raise awareness, issues and feed in ideas and help the club to continually improve.

"This ensures we have good coverage across all areas of the club, the champions help to promote safeguarding and ask the good safeguarding questions in meetings and at planning stages of activities," Mundy says.

"Staff report in low level concerns, changes of behaviour and spot if players or participants might be struggling, if we reach out early we can work in a pro-active space to help put support in place to stop that snowball effect of individuals reaching crisis point."

Avoiding the fallout

As someone who has worked in a prison and has also managed high-risk offenders in the community, Mundy is aware of the consequences of what happens when safeguarding processes are not in place or go wrong.

"I've seen the horrendous impact it has on people," she says. "It just makes you really committed to ensure we get it right."

Saints Foundation work with individuals who are most in need across Southampton and are supporting local services engaging with vulnerable individuals, with this comes the need for good safeguarding awareness and staff training.

"Saints Foundation are doing some fantastic work to support children, young people and vulnerable adults but we are working with those who are most in need and that obviously brings a lot of complexity and need for safeguarding support," Mundy says.

Online awareness

"We've seen an increase in mental health issues and anxiety with our young people, especially with the impact of the pandemic.

"And with the limited contact time we have had with the younger players in training during this time, this is something that has been difficult to manage.

"We raise a lot of awareness internally about staying safe online. It is easy to target individuals online and there has been a lot in the media where players are getting abused or racially discriminated. People need to report these incidents and realise we can take action."

Premier League support

To help Southampton's safeguarding team develop and implement their policies, they work closely and collaboratively with the safeguarding departments of the Premier League and at other clubs to share ideas and best practice.

"The support we get from the Premier League is brilliant," Mundy says. "There's some fantastic safeguarding practice right across the League.  We learn from each other. Ultimately, we're all trying to do the same thing.

"It is ironic football is so competitive but when it comes to safeguarding, we all just want to work together to help raise the standards across the whole game and create safe and inclusive environments for everyone."

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