My Role as Welfare Officer at Thanet Roadrunners AC
Hello! My name is Pam Philpot and I thought it may be a good idea to introduce myself and tell you a bit about the role of the Welfare Officer within Thanet Roadrunners AC. I appreciate that some of you will already know me; although I believe we have over two hundred members in the club, it is highly unlikely that you will know everyone and we have new runners joining on a regular basis which is fantastic. However, in reality how many members are actually aware of the role of Welfare Officer (WO) which I have been undertaking for about ten plus years or so. Yes, I do feel like an invisible person, lurking amidst the shadows! In this write up, I aim to give you some information on the role of the WO, how it interlocks with all aspects of the running club and most importantly why have one and how it can be of benefit to you as a runner; for both juniors and adult club members.
I started running in the early eighties, was an early member of the Thanet Roadrunners AC completed a few races, I stopped for approx. twenty-five years (work, children etc.) In 2017, I wanted a challenge and started to train for the Thanet Marathon in 2008. I have run some marathons, ultras and have completed other running challenges, why? Because I enjoy running! I currently work within the NHS (forty-two + years as a midwife and nurse) this is where my many years’ experience of safeguarding comes into play and I thought I could use some of my experience to support the club.
The role of the Welfare officer operates on several levels
Child protection refers to the protection of children until the age of 18 and 25 years for vulnerable adults. However the England Athletics (EA) have incorporated the role within welfare officers in relation to the safeguarding of all club members. There are some “boring” yet necessary parts to the role such as reviewing and updating policies and guidelines in line with EA. There is a Welfare Framework to ensure we are compliant with all areas. I undertake annual audit checks on welfare within the club. Sit on the committee as a non-voting member, act as a verifier for DBS Check applications for the club. I also had to attend the EA mandatory workshops and complete e-learning on an annual basis, as well as my own safeguarding and mental wellbeing courses undertaken at work. I am usually lurking in the background on race days as it is a EA compliance to have a welfare officer at headquarters (apart from the missing children etc) I am also a very good go for this, go for that person!
What does this all mean for you?
Well if the paperwork, audits and welfare framework (the information and guidance I go by if there is a serious concern or complaint) are not in order, then I am failing in my role as safeguarding or Welfare officer to support you. More recently, I have taken on the role of Covid-19 coordinator (as set out in the new TRAC risk assessment for running groups) again, this interlinks with the track and trace which has been set up under EA regulations and to have an understanding of a secure covid environment for the safety of all members. I along with a few members have taken on an active role within the TRAC #runandtalk mental health initiative. Running plays such an important aspect in maintaining good mental health, personally without running I would not know what to do at times. It acts as a good mood stabiliser which we all need from time to time. This initiative links well with supporting the Club in building a culture where members feel safe and welcomed / included and supported. In the near future, I hope to get a TRAC #RunandTalk sessions up and running (subject to covid-19).
It is everyone’s responsibility to protect the welfare of all club members; we must look after each other.
This role is basically about being there for you, and that I am here for any concerns small or large ( I think if it is something you wish to speak to me about, then it is important) You can contact me via the Thanet Roadrunners AC website under contacts, initial e-mail, or phone, can be arranged. All inquiries will be confidential; however, if deemed to be in the best interest of the member to be discussed at a senior level, then this would be explained.
I hope you have gained a little insight into the role of Welfare Officer. Do not forget that running is our happy place.
Happy Running Everyone!