Saater Ikpaahindi has spent most of her career advocating for the rights and welfare of children, women and vulnerable groups.
She is an optimistic believer that children, women and vulnerable groups can be safer when effective prevention and response mechanisms are put in place to protect them at all levels of the society. In her role as an RSH Nigeria Safeguarding Mentor, she supports two organisations, Total Child Care Initiative (TCCI) and Association for Family and Reproductive Health (AFRH) to strengthen their safeguarding systems.
When she is not reading, cooking a burnt offering (in her attempts to cook), designing infographics, in a rabbit hole researching on new technology or watching Korean dramas, you would find her engaging in heated debates about gender and inclusion issues.
Safeguarding is a journey and wherever you’re on it, there’s always room to pause, reflect, assess, improve, and repeat. The idea of the RSH mentorship programme is to support organisations whether they’re just starting out or improving their practices to efficiently safeguard the people they seek to serve and their own staff.
The way mentoring works
The concept of safeguarding is still quite nascent in Nigeria. The RSH mentorship programme is an innovative way to increase knowledge and strengthen the safeguarding practice of organisations working in the humanitarian and development sector. For a six-month period, selected organisations are paired with RSH mentors like me. Three months in, I’m sharing five ways I believe mentoring has benefitted mentored organisations.
1. Deepened understanding of safeguarding
Through the RSH mentorship organisations gain a better understanding of safeguarding and its importance. The term safeguarding has undergone an evolution within the aid sector and has come to mean
“the measures an organisation puts in place to ensure that its people, practices and programmes do no harm to the people it seeks to serve as well as its staff and representatives.”
While some organisations are on board with this, others may interchange the terms child protection, gender-based violence and safeguarding.
One of the ways through which mentored organisations have improved or can further boost their knowledge of safeguarding is by completing Module 1 of the Safeguarding Matters e-learning course.
2. Examining gaps
One of the first steps an RSH-mentored organisation undertakes is a safeguarding capacity assessment. With the support of an RSH mentor and a comprehensive assessment template, organisations take an internal look at their safeguarding processes and procedures. This way, the organisation can identify gaps and areas for improvement in preventing and responding to sexual exploitation, abuse, and harassment (SEAH). The assessment examines the organisation’s safeguarding strengths using 17 critical categories, including understanding risks, fundraising, communication, and governance and accountability. The organisation can self-diagnose how well it’s doing and determine what’s needed to fill any gaps.
17 Critical Assessment Categories
3. Strengthening capacity
Following the self-assessment, using a template developed by RSH and with the support of an RSH mentor, organisations develop an action plan. So, the organisation comes up with actions and strategies to improve their safeguarding systems. The action plan needs to be measurable, achievable and timebound so that the organisation can track progress over the 6-month period of the programme.
4. One-stop-shop of safeguarding resources
The RSH website has a plethora of resources and useful materials on safeguarding. For example, you can find training courses, podcasts, videos, safeguarding tools and templates, sector standards on the website. This makes the RSH website an important resource for organisations looking to improve their safeguarding systems and aiming to keep up to date with best safeguarding practices. By participating in the mentorship programme, the organisations I mentor have taken safeguarding training on the website and also used RSH-created templates to develop their own safeguarding policies.
5. Knowledge transfer
The RSH mentorship model means knowledge is transferred between mentors and mentees. This is a sustainable model which helps to build the capacity of safeguarding focal persons within the organisation. So when the mentorship programme ends, the organisation will have focal persons with increased safeguarding knowledge. In addition, there will also be a larger pool of safeguarding persons in Nigeria who can then go on to support other organisations, creating a ripple effect.
If your organisation has benefitted from RSH safeguarding mentoring, what has your experience been? Feel free to share below!