In this section:

  • Safe Practice - Policies and procedures
  • Recruitment
  • Training
  • Retention capacity and efficiency – ensuring quality in service delivery
  • Supportive management and clinical supervision
  • Managing volunteers.

First steps

While the functions of leading your AHH service may lie with the same person or people responsible for the management of the project, the functions of leadership and management are different. In this section of the toolkit we are focusing on what needs to be in place to ensure that your project is managed effectively. The management function is task-oriented and focuses on what are the processes that enable you to fulfil your mission. The key aspects of management usually include planning, budgeting and organising staff and resources to ensure that the service is safe and accountable.

As this toolkit is aimed at any agency seeking to develop services to address alcohol hidden harm, some of the advice in this section may not be relevant to well established agencies with highly evolved management systems.

Ask yourself - is everything in place to ensure our service is safe and accountable? Check with funders, senior managers, trustees and service users that you know what they expect in terms of reporting and make sure you are in a position to provide the information in the form they need.

A good starting place for anyone seeking to develop an effective service in the early stages is the Charity Commissions’ publication The Hallmarks of an Effective Charity, which lists six 'hallmarks' or principles of effective charity management. These are:

  1. Clear about its purposes and direction An effective charity is clear about its purposes, mission and values and uses them to direct all aspects of its work.

  2. A strong board An effective charity is run by a clearly identifiable board or trustee body that has the right balance of skills and experience, acts in the best interests of the charity and its beneficiaries, understands its responsibilities and has systems in place to exercise them properly.

  3. Fit for purpose The structure, policies and procedures of an effective charity enable it to achieve its purposes and mission and deliver its services efficiently.

  4. Learning and improving An effective charity is always seeking to improve its performance and efficiency, and to learn new and better ways of delivering its purposes. A charity's assessment of its performance, and of the impact and outcomes of its work, will feed into its planning processes and will influence its future direction.

  5. Financially sound and prudent An effective charity has the financial and other resources needed to deliver its purposes and mission, and controls and uses them so as to achieve its potential.

  6. Accountable and transparent An effective charity is accountable to the public and others with an interest in the charity (stakeholders) in a way that is transparent and understandable.

This document then signposts you to further sources of information and advice.

This section of the toolkit focuses on the ‘Hallmark’ or ‘principle’ number 3 of an effective charity: ‘Fit for purpose’ with the structure, policies and procedures to ensure that the agency achieves its mission and that services are delivered effectively.

Safe Practice – policies and procedures

To ensure the safety of those using your service and the staff and volunteers providing a service it is critical that you have clear policies and procedures which enable the charity to achieve its purpose and mission and deliver services effectively, accountably and safely.

Clear policies are essential to any service and can usually be divided into policies that relate to human resources, that is policies which relate directly to employment issues (such as Health and Safety, Recruitment, Grievance and Disciplinary policies) and those which are primarily concerned with service delivery (including Confidentiality, Complaints, Child Protection and Vulnerable Adults and Customer Care policies).

There is no need to reinvent the wheel when drafting policies. There exist both: checklists for the policies you will need to have in place and a range of banks or libraries containing model or draft copies of all the policies that you might need to adopt when developing an AHH service. Try:

Your local Community Voluntary Services (CVS) may also have a policy bank you can access.

However, it is dangerous to simply adopt a model policy without considering the needs of your user group and how your charity will implement the policy in question. For a policy and accompanying procedures to really protect users, staff and volunteers, your agency needs to spend time looking at model policies, adapting them to suit your organisation and ensuring that staff, volunteers, trustees and, where appropriate, users understand the policies and how they should be implemented.

It is likely that all agencies working in the field of alcohol hidden harm will require, as a minimum, the following policies:

  • Health and safety
  • Child protection
  • Risk assessment
  • Equal opportunities and diversity
  • Confidentiality
  • Basic personnel policies

Health and Safety

Managers are responsible for establishing and maintaining safe working environments and practices. Policies to address issues of lone working and home visits are particularly important in the context of alcohol hidden harm. In addition, good clinical supervision should ensure that practitioners maintain a professional distance between themselves and their clients. There should be clear procedures for clients who may need to contact an agency in an emergency or out of hours. Clients should not have the personal phone numbers of practitioners, nor should practitioners make themselves available ‘at any time’. Managers should also do all they can to ensure that staff and volunteers adhere to procedures for maintaining a healthy and safe workforce, whether on or off the premises.

Case study: 'Buddying'

A service offered good support and training for their volunteers who worked as mentors for young people in the community, often in the evenings and at weekends. There was a system of ‘buddying’ which was intended as a check on the safety of these volunteers, which meant that they should call their volunteer ‘buddy’ before and after each meeting with their young client. However, in an interview with the evaluator, volunteers revealed that they mostly did not use the system, as they did not feel it was necessary. Managers emphasised the importance of this system when training new volunteers.

Ensuring your Child Protection Policies and procedures are fit for purpose will be critical but again there are agencies that can offer on-line or person to person advice and support – see:

Once a given policy or procedure has been adopted you will need to identity when it is to be reviewed, who will be responsible for reviewing it and who will oversee this procedure. You also need to decide which staff need training to implement each of the policies and how frequently this training should be delivered.


Recruitment is the process of having the right person, in the right place, at the right time. All projects will want and need to recruit staff with the skills and experience to provide a high quality service to children and their families affected by alcohol hidden harm. Recruitment policies and procedures should be:

  • efficient - cost effective in methods and sources;
  • effective - producing enough suitable candidates without excess and ensuring the identification of the best fitted for the job and the organisation;
  • fair - ensuring that right through the process decisions are made on merit alone. ACAS and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development have developed factsheets to help you meet your legal requirements, adhere to good practice in the recruitment process and recruit staff best able to meet your mission and assist service users to the best possible outcomes. There are similar good practice guidelines for the recruitment of volunteers .


This section explores how you assess the training needs of the whole service as part of the management function. (Please see Practitioner Qualities of this Toolkit, which identifies some of the training you would want individuals working in your service to have attended.) To ensure that staff have the capacity to deliver the mission of the agency, in line with the policies and procedures, and to secure the best outcomes for those families affected by alcohol hidden harm who are seeking support, you will need to provide staff with appropriate training.

Case study: Adding capacity through training

An alcohol hidden harm service unexpectedly found that there was a high demand for play therapy amongst the families it worked with. This was because the children they were supporting were younger than anticipated. The team included a sessional play therapist whose sessions were rapidly filling up. At the same time the need for parenting education and support was less than anticipated so the lead practitioner expected to deliver this was underused. The problem was resolved by enabling the lead practitioner to train as a play therapist. She was able to take on a small case load while training and this gave the service enough capacity to meet the immediate needs of their clients without the need for a waiting list.

To identify training needs across your agency it is advisable to undertake an annual Training Needs Analysis (TNA) which will review the learning and development requirements for staff, volunteers and trustees in your organisation and consider the skills, knowledge and behaviours that you or your staff need, and how to develop them effectively. There are many sample TNAs available on line (for example

(Again, see practitioner qualities for how you might undertake an individual training needs assessment.)

Once you have identified the training needs within your agency you will need to ring fence the necessary funds and find suitably qualified and experienced trainers. Some local authorities provide training on safeguarding to voluntary sector staff and in some parts of the country there are Community Voluntary Services which provide a range of training at reduced rates for the voluntary sector (e.g. Alternatively some of the national children’s charities can provide training and consultancy support.


Although a moderate level of staff turnover can be good for a project, high staff turnover can prove disruptive and costly to projects, while also lowering morale and potentially harming an agency’s external reputation. Organisations need to have strategies in place to retain high quality staff and volunteers and to ensure that staff and volunteers leave for positive reasons – to expand their experience and take up more challenging roles – not because of negative factors such as stress, a lack of support or poor training and development opportunities. Unfortunately there is evidence that charities struggle to retain staff and that few have strategies in place to enable them to retain staff .

You can access advice on staff and volunteer retention from KnowHow NonProfit or the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and Volunteering England. Unsurprisingly the advice on retention emphasises the importance of:

  • rewarding jobs
  • opportunities for career development and progression
  • high quality leadership
  • clear, effective management
  • treating people fairly.

The alcohol hidden harm projects funded by Comic Relief which most effectively retained high quality staff and volunteers were those where staff and volunteers had the flexibility and support to develop their roles and the leadership and management support to enable them to deliver high quality and effective services. Staff turnover was highest where staff members struggled to deliver services because of poor buy-in from other agencies and where there was limited on site management and high stress levels amongst staff. This can lead to an interruption to the delivery of a service, which will take time to recover.

Capacity and Efficiency – Ensuring quality in service delivery

Staff and volunteers will gain most job satisfaction and service users will potentially benefit most from a service which is managed efficiently and which is not stretched beyond its capacity.

The Quality Assurance section of this toolkit (Service Qualities) will help you think about the systems you could use to ensure that your agency provides a high quality service without stretching beyond its capacity and is managed efficiently to ensure safety and accountability.

From the five Comic Relief projects it was apparent that when staff felt unable to address the client’s needs and were not benefiting from on site management and external clinical supervision they were more likely to feel demoralised and staff turnover was highest. While your staff, volunteers and service users will be affected by issues beyond your control (e.g. cuts in services offered by partner agencies and a reduction in funding across social care), how your agencies respond and the management systems that are in place to protect staff and volunteers are critical to ensuring that the services you offer remain safe and of a high quality.

Supportive and high quality management and clinical supervision

Staff working with individuals affected by alcohol hidden harm require high quality management and clinical supervision.

Management supervision: Management supervision (as opposed to clinical supervision) has 3 primary functions:

  • Administrative supervision - concerned with the correct, effective and appropriate implementation of agency policies and procedures. The aim of this element of the supervision is to ensure adherence to policy and procedure.
  • Educational supervision – concerned with ensuring each staff member has the training and resources to develop their skills and their professional competence.
  • Supportive supervision – concerned with issues of morale, job satisfaction, addressing stresses within the workplace and maintaining harmonious relationships within the team or agency.

Each staff member (and volunteers) should have regular management supervision.

Clinical supervision

Managerial supervision is distinct from Clinical Supervision (Service Qualities and Interventions). Clinical Supervision is “a formal process of professional support and learning which enables individual practitioners to develop knowledge and competence, assume responsibility for their own practice and enhance consumer protection and safety of care in complex clinical situations”.

Clinical supervision: • supports staff in discussing and reflecting on their interventions in order to develop their practice • focuses on the interaction between the staff member and the service users rather than the interaction between the staff member and the agency • should be offered by someone who is not involved in the management of the service.

Clinical supervision is particularly important when children and young people are at risk, as is the case in many cases of alcohol hidden harm. Lord Laming in the Climbie Inquiry recommended that practitioners should receive clinical supervision specific to child protection , while the National Service Framework for Children, Young People and Maternity Services, 2004, states that ‘Consistent, high quality supervision is the cornerstone of effective safeguarding of children and young people and should be seen to operate effectively at all levels within the organisation’.

All agencies working with children and young people affected by alcohol hidden harm need to ensure that staff in direct contact with children and young people take up regular, high quality clinical supervision with an appropriately qualified and supported practitioner.

Case study: Support through supervision

Three of the agencies running alcohol hidden harm services funded by Comic Relief offered clinical supervision to their practitioners which was independent but contributed to reflective practice. These agencies all developed strong and effective services. Where this form of clinical supervision was lacking, practitioners reported feeling unsupported and sometimes overwhelmed by clients’ needs.

Managing volunteers

Case study: Members of the team

Volunteers can be crucial to the successful delivery of services for families. One of the alcohol hidden harm services funded by Comic Relief based their interventions on models they had previously used which relied on volunteers, some of whom had been service users themselves. Other volunteers were students in related professions and those considering careers related to social and youth work also volunteered. The vast majority of volunteers at the agency move on to paid employment (81%) whilst others use the experience to go on to study for professional qualifications (13%).

In one project, volunteers were very clear about their role and received extensive training prior to starting volunteering and then on an on-going basis. All volunteers had supervision to help them to reflect on their practice and develop their skills.

In interviews with the evaluators, volunteers working in the alcohol hidden harm project described how they feel like full members of the team as they have access to the same training as paid staff and they are invited to staff social functions. In group work with the children and young people, volunteers take on key worker functions in the same way as paid staff. The agency prides itself on offering an excellent service to those who volunteer there and in return volunteers add value to every area of the project’s work.

It is critical that volunteers receive appropriate management and support. NCVO has produced checklist for those managing volunteers

Managing Volunteers: A checklist

  • Write a volunteering strategy
  • Write volunteering policies
  • Write a role description and role specification for each volunteer vacancy
  • Ensure you have relevant references and Criminal Records Bureau checks for each volunteer
  • Induct all new volunteers and those taking on a new role or increased role
  • Provide training relevant to the volunteer's work and role
  • Provide highly supportive supervision and management
  • Ensure volunteer documents do not set out 'rights' or 'obligations

NCVO also summarise the key issues to consider in order to develop good practice in the management of volunteers. This includes signposting you to other relevant information.

Adfam have produced a toolkit Real Voices in Volunteering specifically covering the information, policy, law and resources on volunteering, families and substance use.


Many organisations have several forms of accountability and governance and it is important to make sure that reporting of outputs and outcomes do not become excessively bureaucratic, to the detriment of the work itself. The best systems can achieve a good balance of internal reporting to managers, senior leaders and trustees, while also providing a good opportunity for staff and volunteers to reflect on what is going well and not so well for their work with service users. In medium to large organisations these internal accountability structures provide a good mechanism for learning and stimulating change in other services you provide. Routine reporting to the funders and to the external evaluators is also often more manageable when there is a culture and clear internal systems of accountability. N.B. Where possible, funders and evaluators should make use of routine reports rather than duplicate internal systems.


Effective management is essential for the initiation and sustainability of alcohol hidden harm services. This might sound like a statement of the obvious. The evaluation of the Comic Relief funded projects revealed that some elements of management are especially important when establishing a new service.