Vulnerable Adults Policy

Aim of Policy

Bow Arts delivers work with a range of community groups and settings and we aim to create environments in which vulnerable adults are safe.

The aim of this policy is to outline processes through which members of the Bow Arts staff, volunteers, interns and freelance contractors can keep vulnerable adults safe.


The characteristics of adult abuse can take a number of forms and cause victims to suffer pain, fear and distress reaching well beyond the time of the actual incident(s). Victims may be too afraid or embarrassed to raise any complaint. They may be reluctant to discuss their concerns with other people or unsure who to trust or approach with their worries.

There may be some situations where victims are unaware that they are being abused or have difficulty in communicating this information to others.

1) Definition

  • Adults at risk of harm are sometimes referred to as a “vulnerable adults”. They are:
  • People who need safeguarding are individuals who require care and support (whether or not the council is meeting any of those needs) and someone who is;
  • is experiencing or is at risk of -abuse or neglect
  • and, as a result of their care and support needs, is unable to protect themselves from either the risk of, or the experience of abuse or neglect.
  • Examples of vulnerable adults might include:
  • people with learning disabilities
  • people with physical disabilities
  • people with sensory impairments
  • older people
  • people with mental health problems.

2) What is abuse?

Abuse is an action that harms another person. We recognise the following as types of abuse (as set out in The Care Act 2014):

a) Physical abuse: including assault, hitting, slapping, pushing, misuse of medication, restraint or inappropriate physical sanctions

b) Domestic violence: including psychological, physical, sexual, financial, emotional abuse and so called ‘honour’ based violence

c)Sexual abuse: including rape, indecent exposure, sexual harassment, inappropriate looking or touching, sexual teasing or innuendo, sexual photography, subjection to pornography or witnessing sexual acts, indecent exposure and sexual assault or sexual acts to which the adult has not consented or was pressured into consenting

d) Psychological abuse: including emotional abuse, threats of harm or abandonment, deprivation of contact, humiliation, blaming, controlling, intimidation, coercion, harassment, verbal abuse, cyber bullying, isolation or unreasonable and unjustified withdrawal of services or supportive networks.

e) Financial or material abuse: including theft, fraud, internet scamming, coercion in relation to an adult’s financial affairs or arrangements -including in connection with wills, property, inheritance or financial transactions, or the misuse or misappropriation of property, possessions or benefits

f) Modern slavery: encompassing slavery, human trafficking, forced labour and domestic servitude. Traffickers and slave masters use whatever means they have at their disposal to coerce, deceive and force individuals into a life of abuse, servitude and inhumane treatment

g)Discriminatory abuse: including forms of harassment, slurs or similar treatment; because of race, gender and gender identity, age, disability, sexual orientation or religion

h) Organisational abuse: including neglect and poor care practice within an institution or specific care setting (such as a hospital or care home) or in relation to care provided in one’s own home. This may range from one-off incidents to ongoing ill-treatment. It can be through neglect or poor professional practice as a result of the structure, policies, processes and practices within an organisation

i) Neglect and acts of omission: including ignoring medical, emotional or physical care needs; failure to provide access to appropriate health care and support or educational services; the withholding of the necessities of life, such as medication, adequate nutrition and heating

j) Self-neglect: this covers a wide range of behaviour such as neglecting to care for one’s personal hygiene, health or surroundings and includes behaviour such as hoarding.

3) Responding appropriately to suspicions or disclosures of abuse

All members of staff, freelance contractors, trustees, volunteers and interns have a duty to report any
concerns relating to the welfare of vulnerable adults. These may include:

  • Disclosures from vulnerable adults
  • Observations or suspicions of inappropriate conduct towards vulnerable adults

Guidance on how to respond to a disclosure of abuse can be found in Appendix A. All incidents must be recorded, preferably on the incident reporting sheet (Appendix B).

Any suspicions concerning adult abuse should be reported to the designated member of Bow Arts staff responsible for vulnerable adults:

Cath Smith – Trustee, Bow Arts, 183 Bow Road, London, E3 2SJ / 8980 7774

Bow Arts will report all disclosures or allegations to:

the Tower Hamlets Connect helpline Team on 0300 303 6070.

This can be followed up with an Safeguarding alert form to

Course of action:

If there are any concerns that a vulnerable adult may be at risk of immediate harm, the police should be contacted by dialling 999.

  1. Record Incident (see Appendix B – Incident Reporting)
    Who? > Staff member, freelance contractor, volunteer or intern
  2. Report incident to Bow Arts Adult Protection Officer (Cath Smith, Trustee)
    Who? > Staff member, freelance contractor, volunteer or intern
  3. Contact the Tower Hamlets Connect helpline Team on – 0300 303 6070 or
    Who? > Bow Arts Adult Protection Officer
  4. No further action required OR advised to refer to: Social Services OR Welfare Officer OR Health Professional
    Who? > Bow Arts Adult Protection Officer

4) Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Checks

Bow Arts processes volunteer, standard and enhanced DBS disclosure checks through a Registered Body, currently uCheck.

Bow Arts only offer work and volunteering/intern roles to individuals if they hold a valid DBS check completed within the past three years, or have a DBS application in process (see below). This can be completed through Bow Arts, or through another organisation. If completed through another organisation, the original certificate must be seen and recorded by Bow Arts. We encourage contractors to use the annual ‘auto-update’ service.

Freelance Contractors, staff and volunteers:
Bow Arts recognises valid DBS checks must include each of these elements:
1) The check must be an ‘Enhanced’ check, including a check of the relevant DBS Barred Lists

2)The check must be for ‘Child Workforce’ or ‘Child and Adult Workforce’

3)Have an appropriate role description to the role that will be carried out

  • All staff and contractors are responsible for informing Bow Arts of any convictions prior to, or following completion of DBS applications.
  • An individual may work/volunteer in client settings if their DBS check is in process with Bow Arts. If the application has not been processed by the time the work is contracted, it will be noted in the client contract that the check is pending, and the application reference number will be included. In this situation the client retains the right to decline an individual.
  • If a disclosure is made, or if a ‘trace’ should come to light through a DBS check, we will provide a designated member of staff for the client with details of the disclosure. It will then be the responsibility of the client to make their own assessment of risk before allowing access to the individual. The client’s decision must be made in writing to Bow Arts.
  • If a disclosure or trace relates to a matter of vulnerable adult protection, Bow Arts retains the right to remove an artist from their database.
  • How disclosures are treated internally within Bow Arts. A note that an artist has a disclosure will be added to the artist file and all members of the Education and Learning team and the CEO will be informed. The Head of Education & Learning will write to the contractor/volunteer to clarify our procedure (as above) and how we will handle the information.

Where a client has any special requirements that differ to this policy it is the responsibility of the organisation to inform Bow Arts in a timely fashion so that we can endeavour to support any such requirements.

All data processed as part of the DBS checking will be scanned and kept securely on file, in line with Bow Arts Privacy Policy.

Further information on DBS is available at

5) Legislation and Further Information

This policy is informed by the Care Act 2014

Further information can be found at:

Bow Arts Vulnerable Adults Policy Updated March 2022

To be reviewed March 2024

Appendix A

Responding to a Disclosure- Checklist


  • Listen carefully and take an allegation seriously
  • Stay calm
  • Re-assure the person
  • Explain what you will do next
  • Report to the nominated member of Bow Arts staff
  • In an emergency, protect the vulnerable adult
  • Record everything the person has told you or what you have observed – in detail and immediately (see RECORDING below)


  • “Go it alone”
  • Appear shocked or angry
  • Try to obtain more information than is necessary
  • Make comments or judgments
  • Contaminate the evidence
  • Promise to keep secrets (the information must be shared)
  • Give sweeping assurances
  • Confront the abuser


  • Brief and immediate
  • Identify fact and opinion
  • Record date, time, situation
  • Who else was present
  • Who said what/Observations
  • Use person’s own words
  • Be clear and specific
  • Action Taken (Even if No action)

Data Protection

  • Record adequate information
  • Be Accurate
  • Keep to a first hand account
  • Hold information securely

Appendix B

Vulnerable Adults Incident Report Form

Name of person disclosing:
Project location / venue:
Contact details for person disclosing (when not held by community setting):

Briefly describe what happened (include times and dates):

Names and contacts of witnesses:

Name of person completing form:

Action taken:

A copy of this report MUST be given to the Bow Arts Safeguarding Lead:

Cath Smith – Trustee, Bow Arts, 183 Bow Road, London, E3 2SJ / 8980 7774