Club welfare officers - this blog is for you

The first entry of a new safeguarding blog series by our Safeguarding Specialist Amy Riding, looks at the Sports Welfare Officer (SWO) Network recently set up by Active Partnerships.

This network of sports welfare officers was created by Sport England off the back of The Whyte Review and funds them to promote good practice and safe sport, as well as to connect and support club welfare officers (CWOs) across all sports. 

The SWO Network was created across England to support national sports governing bodies and their clubs move from welfare compliance to developing effective welfare and inclusive cultures.

It is recognised that the role of CWOs can be difficult and feel like an isolated role. The SWO Network is there to help CWOs reflect on the strengths of their club, and plan small improvements.

The provision of this support includes:

  • Helping meet safeguarding responsibilities
  • Connecting CWOs with others who also fulfil the same role
  • Growing knowledge and skills
  • Sharing good practice

What does this mean for Basketball England and its clubs?  

Basketball England’s safeguarding team engaged with the network as it was being established.

Relationships have been built with every region in the network and the safeguarding team are working with a point of contact from each.

We have asked the SWO Network to reach out and support BE’s clubs to fulfil their safeguarding responsibilities. The SWOs won't be able to reach out to or visit every club all at once so this will gradually happen over time.

We envisage that the network can provide additional, local support for CWOs and offer signposting to the right advice and guidance.  If there are any clubs that would like this support prior to being contacted by the network, you can request this through the BE safeguarding team - email [email protected]

Note that whilst SWOs have been provided with a list of our basketball clubs in their area/region, they will be relying on up-to-date website contact information for initial communication with CWOs.

Please make sure your club welfare officer details are up to date so that you don’t miss out on being included in any regional communication or training opportunities.  

SWOs are here to help us bolster a culture where safeguarding is at the heart of what we do. From speaking with them, is it clear that they all bring a wealth of experience.

Recently, I attended a seminar in Birmingham with the network and heard important discussions about creating conditions for change, ways of working, and collaboration and prioritisation of ideas to develop the role of CWOs.

It was a sentiment echoed by Liz Wright, Active Cumbria's SWO, when discussing her role, the Network and what she loves about her job:

"I have been in post now since mid February 2024 and so far I am really enjoying this role. 

"My background is working in child protection and with cared for children and young people so it is great to be able to continue to use those skills in a new way.  I really hope that everyone within sport will grow to see the sports welfare officers as that additional hand in their work to make sport and physical activity as safe, inclusive and happy as we possibly can. To help ensure that all our clubs and organisations are the very best they can be. 

"So far my absolute favourite bit of the role is chatting to the wonderful staff and volunteers within the sport sector and seeing their passion for their sport shine through. 

"I can’t wait to have a go and some of the sports I have previously known little about – that passion is infectious!" 

You can contact your regional sports welfare officer via the link below. 

For any safeguarding queries or complaints in basketball, please continue to use Basketball England's reporting procedure.