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Signpost To Safety, A Bridge Between Athletes and Welfare Officers In The UK

What is signpost to safety?

Signpost to Safety is a new welfare initiative for track and field athletes in the UK. Our website provides information on different kinds of abuse and contact details for welfare officers. We also offer a “Go-To” service for anyone who needs that extra bit of help to reach out. Our Go Tos are 12 athletes from around the UK who have all undertaken child protection in sports training from the NSPCC. They can help you find someone that you feel comfortable talking to whether that’s within or outside of athletics.

How it came about

I studied psychology at uni and in my final year I conducted research around the vulnerability of young athletes at a certain level, and why it is so uniquely difficult for them to come forward about abuse. There were a few key findings and from those it became obvious that some sort of set up like this was needed.

Nothing is “too small to report”

As far as getting help goes, nothing is too small to report – what classes as abuse within the sport is actually far broader than a lot of people might think. Having to train through an injury, for example, is neglect. If a young athlete is given exercise for example press-ups as a punishment, that can be classed as physical abuse.

Also with sexual or emotional abuse, it’s important to know that there’s no line anything needs to cross for concerns to be valid. There’s more information on the “resources” page of our website but basically, if anything makes someone feel bad, scared, embarrassed or confused, we want to hear from them.

Advice to someone who feels alone and would like to report something

From the statistics, it’s now clear that anyone being abused is far from alone in that. But it’s very easy to feel isolated and to anyone who wants to report something but is too scared, I would say that Signpost to Safety has been handcrafted by someone who understands that. We get how hard it is and how much bravery it takes to come forward, and on behalf of my team, we would love to walk with you through whatever you’re going through. 

For more information or to get in touch, you can find us at www.signposttosafety.co.uk, or @signposttosafety on Instagram.

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