Welcome to SportCheer England, the new, International Cheerleading Union (ICU) recognised governing body for Cheerleading in England.
SportCheer England Public Statement (16th September 2022)
In light of information coming out of the USA today regarding allegations of abuse in cheerleading, SportCheer England would like to make clear that we take all allegations of abuse very seriously. Information about SportCheer England’s Safeguarding Policy can be found here (https://sportcheerengland.org/policies/safeguarding) and our procedures for reporting safeguarding concerns and whistleblowing can be found here (https://sportcheerengland.org/report-a-concern) and on our website.
At this time we want to make clear that SportCheer England has not received any allegations relating to the cases in the USA, and our response to this situation is based on the public information, as opposed to any known situations here in the UK. SportCheer England encourages everyone to report any concerns they may have, no matter how small or trivial they may appear to be. As per SportCheer England’s Safeguarding procedure (https://sportcheerengland.org/report-a-concern), all concerns should in the first instance be reported to your club’s Designated Safeguarding Officer or the police, with any reports concerning a coach, gym owner or professional working in the sport of cheerleading then escalated by your club DSO to SportCheer England via the SCE safeguarding address: email@example.com.
We recognise that gyms may wish to address the situation with their athletes, parents/ guardians/ carers, volunteers and coaches, and they may wish to signpost them to resources and support. We would also like to advise gyms to prepare appropriately for potential disclosures from athletes, parents/ guardians/ carers, volunteers or coaches, either directly relating to the most recent allegations coming from the USA, or other unrelated allegations. Please find details below:
You can find multiple links to resources and support on the SportCheer England website: https://sportcheerengland.org/safeguarding-resource-hub
And further resources on how to talk to children about sensitive topics here:
How to have difficult conversations with children: https://learning.nspcc.org.uk/safeguarding-child-protection/how-to-have-difficult-conversations-with-children#heading-top
Talking to children about difficult topics: www.nspcc.org.uk/keeping-children-safe/support-for-parents/talking-about-difficult-topics/
We strongly advise that should you intend to speak to your athletes on the topic, you first seek consent from parents/ guardians/ carers and inform them of what the conversation will include, with the option to opt out of the discussion.
Set aside a set time to discuss this with athletes rather than an ad hoc conversation, and ensure it is well-planned. This could also be done as an open discussion with parents invited, to allow for consistent messaging.
Ensure content for any discussion is age appropriate. For a guide to age appropriate content, please go to: https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/
Receiving a disclosure of abuse:
If you are a coach or Designated Safeguarding Officer receiving a disclosure of abuse, please follow your club’s Child Protection Policy procedure.
For additional information on how to receive and report a disclosure of abuse, please follow the following links:
SportCheer England Guidance Update (9th May 2021):
Safeguarding in our Sport – Athletes First
As part of our mission at SportCheer England, we are committed to advocating for and supporting athletes. To do this effectively we are also committed to supporting coaches, parents of the sport and Event Producers.
Athlete safety is paramount and as a community we have a responsibility to protect the athletes in our sport. We would like to take this opportunity to share some important procedures and resources.
As coaches and gym owners, by undertaking the following you can help to ensure the safety of athletes in your care:
- Ensure your recruitment process for all coaches, staff, guest coaches and choreographers is thorough, including enhanced DBS checks and references from previous employers (asking explicitly whether they have any reason to raise a concern about the candidate’s suitability to work with children.) If using a coach from outside of the U.K. you should still carry out an equivalent back ground check as well as seeking references.
- Ensure your Child Protection and Adults at Risk Policy is up to date with the latest legislative changes and contact details for your safeguarding lead (you can download a basic policy format from the NSPCC here: https://learning.nspcc.org.uk/research-resources/templates/example-safeguarding-policy-statement
- Ensure you have a trained Designated Safeguarding Officer / Safeguarding lead, who is adequately trained to report appropriately and whose details are readily available.
- Ensure your coaches and staff undertake Child Protection Training.
You may want to take the opportunity to talk with your athletes about abuse; offering the young people in your care a safe space to ask any questions they may have, providing you with an opportunity to remind them of your safeguarding procedure, what they should do if something happens to them and also the expectations they should have of your staff in terms of communication and physical contact.
Before doing so we strongly advise you speak to parents first and let them know your intention to discuss the topic of abuse, offering them the option to opt out (in line with the Children and Social Work Act 2017 regarding non compulsory sex education in schools).
This topic may be triggering for some athletes and coaches, and disclosures of abuse may follow as a result. Please be prepared to handle these appropriately in line with your child protection policy. Any disclosure of abuse must be reported to the police and appropriate local authorities.
The resources included in this article may help you in talking about the subject with your young people: https://learning.nspcc.org.uk/safeguarding-child-protection-schools/promoting-healthy-relationships#article-top
SCE is calling on the industry as a whole to come together to ensure the protection of our athletes. Nothing is more important than our joint commitment to providing a safe space within our sport of Cheerleading for the athletes who trust us to protect them.
SportCheer England statement of support for black cheerleading coaches, gym owners, athletes, event producers and our wider community
The recent injustices related to the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Aubrey and Breonna Taylor have led to a groundswell of movement aiming to dismantle racist systems. SportCheer England believe black lives matter, and stand in solidarity with black cheerleading coaches, gym owners, athletes, event producers and our wider community. We also recognise that simply changing our logo, or releasing a statement of support is an empty gesture, unless it is a catalyst for real change.
We recognise the current lack of diversity on our board and in our sport, and acknowledge that this needs to change if we are to create an inclusive National Governing Body that represents, supports and welcomes everybody.
Over the next few months we intend to look at practical and effective ways we can shape our policies to reflect and embrace a culture of diversity and inclusion. As a first step we have this week engaged an experienced Diversity and Inclusion advisor (Alicia Wedderburn-Graham) to work with the board.
We also intend to reach out to our BIPOC and BAME athletes and coaches (as well as other underrepresented groups, to make sure that we are working in a way that promotes intersectionality) to listen and learn from them, how we can best serve them within the sport.
These times are all too familiar. We recognise that not speaking about this sooner is hurtful. We will do better. We support all black athletes, their families, coaches, gym owners and the wider black community.
We see you and we hear you. We stand with you.
It’s important to us that this statement isn’t just centred around whiteness or doing things in places that are “easy to change”, but that the commitment is to anti -racism in the lives of all SportCheer board members in and outside of cheer. Over the coming months we will commit to the research and practical outworking of that personal commitment, as well as the implementation of our commitment within the NGB.
Alicia has also recommended some useful Instagram accounts to follow:
SPORTCHEER ENGLAND CORONAVIRUS INFORMATION HUB
The SportCheer England Coronavirus Information Hub is now available.
This website is designed for Coaches, Athletes and Event Producers, to be able to access information regarding the governance of the sport of Cheerleading within England, as well as supporting the development of athletes, coaches and clubs.
Any questions should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org