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The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland
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Working with children and vulnerable adults

Certain types of charity are set up to assist or care for those who are particularly vulnerable, perhaps because of their age, physical or mental ability or ill health.

Charity trustees are responsible for ensuring that those benefiting from, or working with, their charity are not harmed in any way through contact with it. They have a legal duty to act prudently and take all reasonable steps within their power to ensure this does not happen. This is particularly important where beneficiaries are vulnerable persons or children in the community.

Trustees are expected to find out what the relevant law is, how it applies to their organisation and to comply with it, where appropriate. They should also adopt best practice as far as possible – advice on this is available from a number of knowledgeable sources, some of which are listed below.

Children are an especially vulnerable group and therefore the Commission stresses the importance of charities having proper safeguards in place for their protection.

Although the Commission does not administer child protection legislation, it aims to increase public trust and confidence in charities and, as part of the registration process, it will always ask organisations working with children for:

  • information about the policies and procedures which they have in place for keeping children safe
  • disclosure of Access NI certificates in respect of trustees where the charity is legally entitled to obtain these.

For current guidance on safeguarding, legislation and resources see the Department of Health website (external link)

Further guidance and information is also available from the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People (NICCY) website (external link).

Alternatively, contact NICCY using the contact details below:

Equality House 
7-9 Shaftesbury Square

Telephone: (028) 9031 1616
Fax: 028 9031 4545