Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups

Safeguaring Vulnerable Groups

RYA Scotland is committed to ensuring that everyone that takes part in the sports of boating should be able to participate in an enjoyable and safe environment, which promotes inclusion and protects them from harm, poor practice, exploitation, bullying and abuse.

The individual's experience of the sport is our priority. We, and our affiliated clubs, organisations and recognised training centres, should create a safe and welcoming environment, both on and off the water, where people can have fun and develop their skills and confidence. We all need to treat individuals with respect, celebrate their achievements and listen to their views and experiences.

Everyone's responsibility

RYA Scotland, as an organisation will take all reasonable steps to ensure that, through safe recruitment, appropriate operating procedures and training, that we offer a safe and fun environment to children and young people taking part in RYA Scotland, and RYA, events and activities.

RYA Safe and Fun Poster

However safeguarding our children and young people is everyone's responsibility and we are here to support clubs, organisations and training centres in this journey.

Our newly updated RYA Scotland Safeguarding & Protecting Children Policy was approved by the RYA Scotland Board in May 2020. It, along with our new RYA Scotland Anti-Bullying Policy (also Appendix F in the Safeguarding Policy) can be downloaded and used by organisations as a template of what to include and/or update within their policies.

Safeguarding - Child Wellbeing & Protection in Sport

There has been a number of changes that our new policy has needed to incorporate and the biggest is looking at how we support the development of children and young people holistically.

Diagram of 8 stage standards for working practice with children and young people 

In December 2017, sportscotland and Children 1st introduced a new set of standards to continue to improve working practices for those engaged with children and young people. The 8 standards focused around 'the child', 'the workforce' and 'the organisation'.  All National Governing Bodies of Sport in Scotland, including RYA Scotland have been working hard to improve not only our policies and procedures, but also introduce new 'child wellbeing & child protection' language to our sports, to ensure that we give young people a voice within our sport and to identify any new training or information that we need to ensure is shared with our sporting communities.

One of the key areas is around the GIRFEC approach – Getting it Right for Every Child. It states that children should be:

  • Safe
  • Healthy
  • Achieving
  • Nurtured
  • Active
  • Respected
  • Responsible
  • Included.


These 8 wellbeing indicators are seen as the basic requirements needed for all children and young people to grow, develop and reach their full potential. This is a common language for those working with children and is readily used in Education, Youth Work, Social Work and by other supporting agencies. Sport can also contribute to and support children in these areas and further information is available in the Child Wellbeing & Protection in Sport - Guidance For Clubs document.

What should clubs, organisations and training centres do?

RYA recognised training centres are required to and clubs/organisations with junior members/participants (children and young people under 18) are strongly recommended to have:

  • A named contact for the co-ordination of safeguarding/welfare with a role description, who has attended recommended training
  • A Safeguarding Policy which reflects national guidelines, adopted by the Board / Executive / Council / Management Committee.
  • A Code of Conduct for all those working with children and young people, as well as for young people (on their behaviours), parents and other officials.
  • A variety of child protection training offered at appropriate levels for those working or volunteering with children and young people in boating.
  • A procedure for the recruitment and selection of those who work with children and young people, including access to PVG Scheme Membership checks.
  • A procedure for responding to concerns about the welfare or abuse of a child - within or out with sport.
  • A disciplinary procedure for managing concerns and allegations of poor practice, misconduct and child abuse and includes provision for referrals to the Children's List.
  • A procedure for reviewing the management of concerns about poor practice, misconduct and / or child abuse.


As an affiliated club or recognised training centre, you can contact RYA Scotland's Development Manager Liza Linton at 0131 317 7388 or 07770 604234 or alternatively RYA's Safeguarding and Equality Manager Katie Loucaides at 023 8060 4104 for advice guidance and help.

RYA Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy Guidelines


Where a child’s immediate safety is at risk contact the local police or social work department for advice. Contact details for local social work departments can be found by using the link in related pages.

If somebody raises child protection concerns in relation to an instructor / coach / volunteer who is currently practising then you should follow your 'Responding to Concerns' procedure. If it is a historical allegation then you should follow the same procedure and signpost the individual to Police Scotland on '101'. If you have a concern about a child's immediate safety then this should be passed on to Police or Social Work.

You can also phone RYA Scotland on 07770 604234 to gain advice - this phone is checked during the evening and weekends.

PVG Checks

The Protection of Vulnerable Groups Scheme (PVG) has been in place since 2011 and clubs/centres have a duty to ensure that people (volunteer or otherwise) working with children and young people are suitable to do so. PVG checks are one part of this process. RYA Scotland signpost those looking to carry out these free volunteer checks to Volunteer Scotland Disclosure Services (VSDS). For more details on the process, please contact RYA Scotland Development Manager Liza Linton. 

RYA Scotland is always prepared to offer advice and give support on this important aspect of our sport and therefore do not hesitate to contact Liza Linton, Development Manager on 0131 317 7388 or 07770 604234 or