Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU) celebrates 15-year anniversary

At this year's conference, the CPSU encouraged sports organisations to keep young people at the heart of safeguarding

Tanni Grey-Thompson at 2016 CPSU conferenceLaunched at Lord's cricket ground in 2001, the Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU) is a unique partnership between the NSPCC and Sport England to ensure that young athletes are safeguarded and supported.

To mark the anniversary, the CPSU held a conference and evening reception at Wembley Stadium on 5 October. The conference also celebrated the completion of a 3-year partnership between the CPSU and UEFA to help champion safeguarding in youth sport.

The event gave sports organisations from across the UK the chance to speak directly with young people in workshop sessions on numerous safeguarding topics, such as supporting deaf and disabled young people in sport, positive parental behaviour and safeguarding young people with mental health issues.

Anne Tiivas, Director of the Child Protection in Sport Unit, said:
"We'd like to thank Sport England and all the sports bodies that we work with for their continued commitment to safeguarding children in sport. 15 years ago, we could never have imagined the way in which sport has embraced safeguarding and protecting children.

"We are very grateful for all the young people that have taken part in this conference, and hope it will help to reinforce the importance of involving young people in all areas of sport."

The importance of inclusion

Titled 'Safeguarding in sport – taking our lead from young people', this year's conference stressed the vital importance of the voice of children and young people in robust safeguarding strategies.

Speaking at the conference were Peter Wanless, CEO of the NSPCC, Robert Sullivan, Strategy Director at the Football Association and Mike Diaper, Community Sport Director at Sport England.

In her keynote speech, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson talked about the importance of making sport inclusive for people from all backgrounds, putting particular emphasis on ensuring that sport was inclusive of disabled young people and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

All speakers echoed the importance of inclusion, as well as emphasising the positive impact sport can have on children and young people's physical and mental health.

Mike Diaper, Community Sport Director at Sport England, said:
"Sport England is immensely proud of its partnership with the NSPCC. This has contributed to an immeasurable improvement in the quality of sport for children and young people, and safeguarding is now embedded as a priority for all of the organisations that we fund.

"We are delighted to support today's conference and look forward to continuing our partnership with the CPSU to support the new Sport England strategy."

A new sport safeguarding strategy

This year's conference also saw the launch of the multi-agency Safeguarding in Sport Partnership's 5-year strategy. Safeguarding is now a central pillar of the new UK Governance Code and Duty of Care, and this new strategy's aim is for all young people to be safeguarded, both in and through sport, and to make sport something that is inclusive and accessible for all.

Keeping young people at the heart of safeguarding is a key aspect of the strategy, which seeks to give young people the chance to contribute to and support safeguarding initiatives.