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Safeguarding - video series

Changing the Story produced a series of short videos which address the various aspects of safeguarding in international development research. The aim of the series is to provide you with food for thought, and to help your project team reflect on safeguarding policies and procedures that are appropriate in your context.

We recommend you view the series in the order below if the concepts, terminology or mechanisms of co-developing approaches to safeguarding are new or unfamiliar to you.

Introduction to Safeguarding

In the opening video a member of the civil society organisation Galli Galli identifies some of the issues she needs to address in Nepal.

You might think about how these same issues relate
to your context, and the specific considerations
that your project raises.

• What does ‘safeguarding’ mean in the context of your project? Whom are you safeguarding? From whom? From what?
• What are the specific issues facing the communities your project is working with? Are these related to, say, power imbalances, lack of (trust in) local support services, or differences in ways we think about childhood, authority, disability or gender identity?
• How do these issues affect the people involved in your research project differently?
• Kabi recounts an incident in which she was subject to inappropriate behaviour. How would you approach this if someone connected to your project raised such a concern?

Building Safeguarding into your Research Design

In this video you will hear Dr Jessica Mitchell reflect on the approach she took to safeguarding when building a network cluster.

• What are the most effective mechanisms for assessing safeguarding risks collaboratively with research partners?

• What is the best organisational safeguarding incident investigation process that can ensure knowledge is captured and lessons are learnt from past incidents?

• What is our agreed process for how safeguarding concerns will be reported and escalated across research partnerships?

• What might an effective 'risk level rating system' look like, with a clear threshold for reporting to funders and regulatory bodies?

Establishing Safeguarding Structures in a New Project

In this video you'll hear Changing the Story Regional Safeguarding Lead (South East Europe) reflect on the potential impact of setting up safeguarding structures in a new project.

• How do we best introduce concepts and terminology around safeguarding?

• What contextual factors affect the introduction of safeguarding concepts and terminology in a particular country or region?

• How do we involve all research partners at the research design and planning stage to ensure that research questions and methodologies are contextually appropriate?

Building Trust

Building trust is central to the ethos of much participatory research. Here, three young researchers from Kosovo discuss their feelings on disclosing personal concerns.

• What are the challenges in building an ethos of trust, while also promoting a culture where people feel empowered to speak up against behaviour they don’t consider appropriate?

Hadiya’s story

A project team discusses a scenario adapted from materials produced by Bond.

• What issues are raised by this incident?

• What safeguarding structures could be put in place to protect Hadiya?

Do they raise awareness of risk or the right to right to speak up, help prevent an incident, facilitate response, or inform how and to whom you might report an incident?

• Who has responsibility for acting? In what context? Who has ultimate responsibility?
• What structures could be put in place to promote a culture of openness which protects the rights of those who speak up? e.g. setting up, monitoring and responding to a comment box. What might work in your project?

Confidentiality and Reporting Structures

This video explores the limits of confidentiality, and what to do when they are reached.

• What might inhibit a  participant from raising a concern in your project? Would they know to whom they should speak? Would they have confidence that their concern would be listened to, believed, or processed transparently? Have they been informed of to whom some concerns would be escalated?

UKCDR discusses confidentiality within the context of ‘transparency’. How does this relate to your project?

A project member recounts an incident.
• How would you respond? In which role are you acting? What action(s) would you expect from other people?
• Who might be the first point of contact in your project if someone wanted to raise a concern? Are they happy talking on this responsibility? Are they paid appropriately? Do they have appropriate knowledge of the procedures for escalating concerns or signposting to other sources of support?

Participatory Research and Safeguarding

An early-career researcher recounts a positive experience as a participant in a project using ‘playback theatre’ techniques, where safeguarding issues arise organically.

• What structures might the project have put in place to ensure this would be the case?

• What potential safeguarding issues are raised in Neeru’s story?

• Are there any other safeguarding issues that might be generated by using ‘participatory’ research methods?

• How does safeguarding intersect with research methodology?

Can participatory research methods be built into your approach to safeguarding? What are the opportunities and challenges in taking this approach? What implications might this have for researchers on your project? Can a researcher also be a counsellor or designated safeguarding focal point on a project?


This video looks at options for advice and expertise when referring incidents beyond your project.

• Are you aware of the expertise around safeguarding currently in your team?

•Are you aware of the external support services, and their remits?

• How might your approach to safeguarding balance what can be catered for within your team’s scope and skillsets, and the capacity and level of trust in national support services?

Co-developing Indicators of Success

Monitor and evaluate your approach to safeguarding in a way that encompasses the different priorities of all the stakeholders in your project.

• What do you want your safeguarding practice to achieve? (These are sometimes called ‘statements of intent’).

• How will you know if you have achieved it? (These are ‘indicators’). At what stage(s) will this be possible to determine?

Culturally Appropriate Safeguarding

Two researchers’ experience of living and working in local contexts.

• Which societal issues fall directly within the remit of your project, and which others may constitute a safeguarding risk?

• How do do you develop an approach to safeguarding that is sensitive to the cultural context, and satisfies all stakeholders?

Safeguarding Sexuality and Gender identity

A Principal Investigator discusses a case study in which LGBTQIA+ staff are advised by their institution to conceal their sexuality when working abroad.

• What processes could be put in place to support and protect LGBTQIA+ staff, partners and research participants in contexts where they may encounter discrimination?

Safeguarding Issues Arising from Conducting Research

A colleague discusses his experience of conducting LGBTQIA-related research in the Global South.

• To what extent should safeguarding issues relate to the remit of your research?

• What role(s) should interested local parties (e.g. support services or activist groups) play?

• How might reporting and processing a safeguarding issue create unintended harm for staff and/or research participants?

Inclusion: Disability

Colleagues from Nepal and Rwanda identify opportunities and challenges when promoting representation for people with disability on participatory projects.

• Why might individuals or groups be marginalised from participating in your research?

• How can we ensure that people with disability are present and empowered?

• Are there particular disabilities that may go undiagnosed in your research setting?

Introducing Safeguarding to Children

A young participant in Kosovo recalls how she was first introduced at the age of 12 to the subject of human trafficking.

• How well do we understand how children interpret disturbing content, and their vulnerability to abuse?

• How might we present such material in an age appropriate way?

•What are the locally available care and support services, and the levels of trust and confidence in them?

Decolonising Knowledge

Two Co-investigators in Zimbabwe position safeguarding within the wider debate around decolonisation of knowledge in international development.

• Who should set the agenda, or define terms such as ‘neglect’, ‘authority’, ‘abuse’ and ‘representation’?

• Who in the community can co-develop the above, and communicate your project’s approach to safeguarding?

Time-bound Projects and Inclusion

Principal Investigator Aylwyn Walsh discusses the challenge of addressing issues around safeguarding and inclusion in time-bound projects.

• Can we influence adverse conditions in the home or community for our young participants? Should we try? If so, then which conditions?

• How might this benefit our research?

• To what extent might you effect change within a time-bound project?

Safeguarding the Mental Health and Wellbeing of Researchers

In this video, Changing the Story colleagues discuss the issue of safeguarding the mental health of researchers.

• When does a mental health concern become a safeguarding matter?

• What channels exist for you to discuss your mental health and wellbeing?

• Are there any other channels that you would like created?

• What action could this instigate?

Mental Health Expertise

In this video Changing the Story colleagues Linda Hoxha and Tony Cegielka discuss the extent to which individuals in designated roles need experience or training in mental health.

UKCDR ask project to consider:

• What training is in place for people dealing with any safeguarding issues or allegations?

• How do you ensure that the project team is not being asked to go beyond its knowledge and/or experience with regard to safeguarding?

• What kind of local care and support services for safeguarding are available? Are other services required?

Safeguarding during a Pandemic

Dr Jessica Mitchell discusses her approach to developing a safeguarding strategy for an international networking project she has been working on.

A Safeguarding Companion Piece produced by UKCDR on the practical application of their safeguarding guidance during COVID-19 can be found here.

• How do we make online spaces safe without intruding on personal lives at home?

• What support or alternatives are we offering for those researchers whose access to workspace, equipment, reliable electricity supply or internet at home may be limited, so that they can continue to work but do so safely?

• In the absence of face-to-face meetings, how are we acknowledging and catering for the different time zones in which researchers work?