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As a lifesaving charity, we believe in prioritising the safety and welfare of our people. And sometimes this means we need to do more to protect the most vulnerable in our society.

RNLI ASA Swim Safe taking place in South Shields

Photo: RNLI/Adrian Don

Every one of us has a responsibility to safeguard the welfare of the young people and adults at risk we may meet, work or volunteer with. It’s important that everyone understands their responsibilities and the steps to take if you have any concerns for the wellbeing of a young person or adult at risk.

What is safeguarding?

Safeguarding is about protecting and supporting young people and adults at risk so they can live from free from harm, abuse and neglect.

  • Young people are defined as being under the age of 18 years.
  • An adult might be considered at risk if they are aged 18 years or over and:
  • has needs for care and support and;
  • is experiencing, or at risk of, abuse or neglect; and
  • as a result of those care and support needs is unable to protect themselves from either the risk of, or the experience of abuse or neglect.

Why is it important?

Safeguarding needs to be considered in all RNLI contexts and activities that may involve young people and/or adults at risk adults. The RNLI is involved in an increasing number of activities that involve children and/or vulnerable adults. That might be on the beach, out on a rescue, during an educational visit, at a fundraising event, over the phone or online.

We are an inclusive and diverse organisation that believes that everyone should be treated with dignity and respect. The RNLI believes that everyone we come into contact with, regardless of age, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation or ethnic origin has the right to be protected from all forms of harm, abuse, neglect and exploitation. We have a moral and legal responsibility to support the welfare and safety of young people and adults at risk.

Safeguarding Policy - PDF 129KB
This policy provides details of our safeguarding commitment to children and adults at risk.

If you are a member of the public and have concerns about the welfare of a child or adult at risk

Are they in immediate danger or are they injured?

If yes, contact the emergency services by dialling 999. In all cases relating to concerns about a child if you are not sure what to do contact the NSPCC 24-hour freephone helpline (0808 800 5000). For non-emergency safeguarding advice about a child or adult at risk contact [email protected].


ChildLine is the free, 24-hour helpline for children and young people in the UK. You can call about any problem, at any time - day or night. Call 0800 1111.