This Safeguarding policy is a working document, reviewed annually and intended for use by individuals involved in Ananda Marga Pracaraka Samgha UK in any capacity. This includes trustees, members (‘margiis’) spiritual teachers (Acaryas – Dadas and Didis), visiting teachers, class leaders, event organisers, volunteers, and any person attending our events. Safeguarding adults at risk means protecting their right to live in safety and free from abuse and neglect. Safeguarding is the responsibility of all of us.
Ananda Marga UK provides opportunities to study and practice yoga and meditation via a varied programme of events; we mainly offer participants the opportunity to meditate with others. Sometimes this is with a qualified teacher (Dada / male and Didi/ female) and at other times alongside peers. Most of our short courses and retreats involve pre-booking. We also operate an ‘open door’ approach to some of our events. Individuals will not be able to attend our retreats if they haven’t attended anything with us before. We hold events that are also attended by young people under the age of 18. We are committed to promoting a safe and inclusive environment.
Responsibilities of AM UK around safeguarding accord with the charity’s commitment to operating in the context of ethical / moral principles defined in the ten universal principles of morality known as Yama – Niyama. These principles help in the development of an integrated personality, of the subtle perception and universal love necessary to facilitate the fullest possible manifestation of human capacity both individually and collectively.
In A Guide to Human Conduct (1959), the spiritual preceptor of Ananda Marga, Shrii Shrii Anandamurti explains:
In the Sádhaná (spiritual practice) of Ananda Marga, moral education is imparted with this ideal of oneness with Brahma, because Sádhaná is not possible without such a moral ideation. Sádhaná devoid of morality will divert people again towards material enjoyments and at any moment they may use their mental power, acquired with much hardship, to quench their thirst for meagre physical objects. There are many who have fallen from the path of Yoga or Tantra Sádhaná and are spending their days in disrepute and infamy. Whatever little progress they achieved through forcible control of their instincts, was lost in a moment’s error in pursuit of mundane pleasures. It must, therefore, be emphasized that even before beginning Sádhaná, one must follow moral principles strictly. Those who do not follow these principles should not follow the path of Sádhaná; otherwise they will bring about their own harm and that of others.
The first element of Yama is known as ahimsa. Ahimsa is defined as refraining from causing pain or harm to others by thought, word, or action. It means to guide one’s conduct carefully in the absence of any intention to cause harm to others.
The cultivation of these moral principles is regarded as an active means of mitigating harm and forms the bedrock of our safeguarding and what we seek to do as a charity.
This policy pertains to the trustees of Ananda Marga UK legal duties towards safeguarding adults. An adult is someone who has passed their 18th birthday.
This document has been compiled in accordance with the key legislation for safeguarding: The Care Act (2014) and The Mental Capacity Act (2005). Other forms of abuse will be referred to later in this document.
There are six principles of adult safeguarding outlined in the Care Act (2014). These are:
This document is for ‘margiis’ i.e., members of Ananda Marga UK, volunteers and employees involved in Ananda Marga activities (and those of any groups run by Ananda Marga either from its centres or out in the community) as employees, volunteers, leaders, teachers or parents.
It aims to provide
It sets out
The trustees of the Ananda Marga UK recognise their responsibility to safeguard adults who may be deemed to be “at risk” visiting our centres or involved in centres’ activities.
Safeguarding means protecting an adult’s right to live in safety, free from abuse, neglect and fear. It is about working together to support people to make decisions about the risks they face in their own lives, and protecting those who lack the capacity to make these decisions.
Perpetrator: the person who is the abuser
Victim: the person against whom the abuse is committed.
Grooming: is when someone builds a relationship of trust and emotional connection with another person so they can manipulate, exploit and abuse them. Groomers may also build a relationship with the person’s family or friends to make them seem trustworthy or authoritative. Grooming can take many forms e.g. making the victim feel special, giving them attention to make them feel wanted and valued. The victim, family members, friends and associates may not recognise the activity as grooming, thinking instead that the person is being nice and kind. Once the relationship of trust is established the Groomer or perpetrator will introduce activity which is not appropriate but which is presented to the victim as an element of their “friendship/relationship”. The abuse that follows can go on for a period of time, even over years with the victim feeling disempowered to do anything about it. When leaders or teachers in religious/spiritual groups perpetrate abuse on members it frequently follows a period of grooming by the perpetrator who, by the nature of their role is in a position of trust. A quote from a victim helps to highlight the actions of the perpetrator when grooming the victim “The dynamic with abusers is they show kindness and they show care”. This type of behaviour by the perpetrator forms part of the grooming process.
Who is an “adult at risk”?
Generally-used definition: A person aged 18 or over, who needs, or may need, community care services because they are frail or have a learning disability, physical disability, sight or hearing disability or mental health issues; and cannot (or may not be able to) care for themselves, or take steps to protect themselves from significant harm or exploitation.
Vulnerability can be variable
We recognise that many people who are generally emotionally and psychologically stable in most aspects of their lives may on occasion find themselves vulnerable or at risk. This may be because of illness, relationship breakdown or bereavement, or because their spiritual journey has made them more sensitive and self-aware, particularly if they are new to it.
Ananda Marga has a hierarchical structure which means there is a power differential between the various levels of authority. Particular care needs to be taken that power is not abused by an individual or individuals to encourage another individual or individuals to engage in activities which they do not feel comfortable with or may not/are not consenting to engage in. In this instance the power differential between the individuals creates the context within which abuse can occur. A person who is generally stable and appears able to manage their lives may find themselves being vulnerable to abuse or exploitation in this situation.
For example, we will bear in mind that a person who is emotionally vulnerable for any reason may not be able to make balanced decisions regarding giving money or becoming more involved with Ananda Marga UK, or entering into intimate relationships, whether friendship or relationships which are more romantic or sexual in nature. Our Safeguarding Policy aims to create an environment where Margiis are aware of these risks. We will take great care to help each other avoid exploiting people in such everyday situations of vulnerability.
AM UK has a designated Safeguarding Committee and Safeguarding Link Trustee, who are responsible for ensuring safeguarding is taken seriously, that the appropriate documentation is in place and that safeguarding remains on the agenda at Trustee meetings.
Our current Link Board Member for Safeguarding is Didi Anandaprama and members of the Safeguarding Committee are: Didi Anandaprama, Nirmala, Lavonii, Lakshmi, Radha and Manorainjan.
When there is a safeguarding concern members should contact the Link Ananda Marga UK Board Member for Safeguarding, Didi Anandaprama. If she is not available contact the Link Committee Member, XX
The aim should be to respond to the concern/incident as soon as possible, this should be on the same day if physically feasible, otherwise the following day. The urgency of response will depend on the seriousness of the concern/incident.
The Link person will need to assess the seriousness of the concern. They will inform the Committee members about the concern/incident. A face to face or telephone/zoom conversation may be needed to decide on the appropriate course of action.
When deciding whether to refer the matter to others (Link Board Member for Safeguarding, police or social services) consider the following:
The Link Board Member and Safeguarding Committee Members will also use the above criteria in deciding whether a referral is needed to Adult Social Care (Social Services) and or the Police.
We are aware that those attending our centre and activities may include adults experiencing psychological disorders.
We recognise that as spiritual aspirants we do not have the professional skills to diagnose or help people with psychological disorders and that they may not be helped solely by meditation practice. In such cases we may need to advise them to seek professional help.
We are aware that for people with serious psychological disorders Ananda Marga meditation practice is not suitable. We may need to encourage them in physical practices (yoga asanas) involving the calming of body and mind, or to avoid meditation altogether, or during periods of relapse.
Where we believe a person to be at risk of suicide or self-harm, or to pose a risk to others, we will alert our Link Trustee for Safeguarding, who will refer to local mental health services and/or the police as appropriate, and consult with the Safeguarding Committee if necessary.
Where it is known that a person attending our activities is likely to pose a risk to others (for example, a person who is known to have a previous criminal conviction for sexual or other violent offences, or someone who is under investigation for possible sexual or other violent offences), appropriate steps need to be taken to ensure the safety of everybody attending the activities. Where it is felt that the charity does not have the resources to manage this relationship safely, we reserve the right to ask the person not to attend our activities.
The Charity Commission expects that anyone working for a charity, paid or volunteering, including trustees, will be DBS checked wherever they are eligible. This applies when the attendees at an event are deemed as vulnerable adults.
We will require anyone helping with such activities (paid or voluntary) who has not been DBS checked to be supervised at all times by someone who is DBS checked.
This does not apply to general activities which an adult with mental health difficulties (for example) may happen to attend.
Abuse and neglect can take many forms and take place in varying circumstances. The main types and patterns of abuse highlighted in the Care Act (2014) are:
It is essential that confidentiality is maintained at all stages of the process when dealing with safeguarding concerns. Information relating to the concern and subsequent case management should be shared on a need-to-know basis only, and should be kept secure at all times. Secure electronic records of referrals regarding concerns/incidents will be maintained.
Where an adult at risk expresses a wish for concerns not to be pursued, this should be respected wherever possible. The starting point should be to support the adult to contact appropriate authorities, or to do so on their behalf with their consent. If the matter is serious and urgent, a serious crime has been or may be committed, or the person reasonably appears to lack the mental capacity to consent, Ananda Marga UK may break confidentiality and raise the matter with the local Safeguarding Adults Partnership or other appropriate authorities in their area.
We do not have a responsibility to investigate situations ourselves and no one involved in the organisation in any capacity should set about to do so.
Further details about safeguarding in your local areas can be found here:
Published 07.07.21 by Ananda Marga UK Regional Board