30 Jun 22 Safeguarding with sfG MentorNet
Running a mentoring programme entails an element of safeguarding due not only the manual handling of mentors’ and mentees’ personal information but also, due to the collaboration that may be required between these individuals and groups.
Through a series of onboarding and functionality elements, sfG MentorNet makes it simple to ensure that the Protection of Vulnerable Groups requirements are maintained while managing your mentoring programme.
To delve further into this, let’s examine the sfG MentorNet platforms safeguarding features that are available to you, and why these are of importance.
Safeguarding, An Overview –
We’ve touched on this in previous blogs, but it’s crucial when running mentoring programmes, that safeguarding is considered – especially when working with children or young adults.
So, having said this – what do we mean by safeguarding?
The term ‘safeguarding’ refers to actions taken to protect groups that are considered vulnerable, from harm – for example, groups of mentees. Harm could come from other mentees, or mentors through channels such as direct messages or forums, if these areas of your programme are not managed correctly.
Mentoring programmes that work with children must take particular care. The definition in terms of ‘child’ may depend on where you live in the world – with the age varying with location and country.
Safeguarding with sfG MentorNet –
Clients come to us at various stages of their mentoring journey, with some still relying on mentees and mentors to become friends on social media platforms or sharing personal email addresses to manage programme communication. This can pose a safeguarding issue due to a lack of visibility or control in terms of the conversations being held between mentee and mentor and could put individuals at risk of harm.
With sfG MentorNet, programme administrators have total control in terms of who has access to the platform, as well as the ability to have full visibility on any, and all, communications.
When setting up your mentoring programmes on our online mentoring platform – you can adjust security settings to best suit the programme and it’s participants – including the ability to remove the option for profile pictures, and even the ability to remove surnames, so that individuals can remain somewhat anonymous, while participating in the programme.
Ability to accept, or refuse, users onto the online mentoring system –
When an individual expresses interest in signing up to a mentoring programme through the sfG MentorNet platform, programme leads or administrators will be notified.
This will ensure that only people who are eligible, can sign up for the programme and gain access to the platform and functionality such as the discussion forums.
Access is granted, and sign-in credentials are supplied –
Once accepted onto the system, users of sfG MentorNet are provided with a specific URL that is tailored to their mentoring programme and role; only through this URL can they log in – using a dedicated username and password.
By logging into the online system in this manner, users are not required to share any further personal information with other users in order to use the system or take part in communications – there is no reason to share private information such as their email address, location, phone numbers, or even social media profiles.
Secure messaging features across the sfG MentorNet platform –
Once users have logged in and mentees are ready to begin their mentoring journey, we have a number of safeguarding features in place, most notably our secure messaging options, which include the ability to moderate keywords.
Administrators using sfG MentorNet have the option of adding a list of moderated words or content, which would be flagged to them by way of a notification, if they are used by a mentor or mentee.
Examples of this feature include the ability the moderate when a string of numbers is sent to someone, such as in the case of mentees swapping mobile phone numbers.
Complete visability, to ensure safeguarding –
Unlike social media channels, such as WhatsApp, sfG MentorNet has tools in place to ensure that private messages are not inappropriate. In addition to keywords and phone numbers – website addresses can also be moderated.
If a mentee felt the need to, there is also a report abuse function that will notify system or programme administrators.
Due to the functionality discussed above – administrators can benefit greatly from using sfG MentorNet due to the total visibility and control. They will be able to moderate and manage discussions, as well as grant or deny access to specific areas of the platform.
Final thoughts –
While we respect that there is an element of friendship involved and the ability to build positive mentoring relationships is important – these safeguarding features help keep the focus on the programme itself, while removing potential for offline communications to be had, or for situations such as bullying to occur.
If you are looking for a secure, compliant, mentoring programme solution – the team at sfG MentorNet would be delighted to provide you with a free demonstration and the opportunity to try out the platform for free for up to 30 days. You can contact the team, to find out more.