Ó Bhéal is strongly committed to safeguarding the well-being of all the children and young people with whom it works. Ó Bhéal works to ensure an encouraging, engaging environment, even inspiring, obliquely educational, if not one of continual discovery for each of the workshop participants, while at all times ensuring their safety and welfare. All workshop facilitators are poets who act as assisting writers (as opposed to teachers) and carry into the creative space an abundance of writing experience, accolades and strong publication and workshop backgrounds.

Ó Bhéal’s Child Protection Policy is based upon and follows the principles of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs Child Protection Policy, as outlined in Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children (2017), Our Duty to Care – The Principles of Good Practice for the Protection of Children and Young People and Poetry Ireland’s Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children and Young People in the Arts Sector. In accordance with these principles, it is good practice (at the very least) for all organisations that have contact with children and young people to introduce a child protection policy/protocol. This helps to provide safeguards and support for the participant children or teenage writers, as well as for the assisting writers, school teachers and library staff when they are working together.

Ó Bhéal actively ensures that garda vetting procedures are adhered to for each and every project and poet chosen to provide workshops for writers under the age of 18. Garda Vetting for the Unfinished Book of Poetry project is facilitated by Cork City Libraries, Ó Bhéal, the Cork City Council Arts Office, Create Ireland and An Garda Siochána.

The co-ordinator of the Unfinished Book project, Ó Bhéal director Paul Casey teaches at all age levels and also via Poetry Ireland’s Writers in Schools scheme. He has attended and completed the most recent child protection best practice and policy guidelines courses, provided by the Arts Council and the Health Services Executive.

For more information, see the below links:

Department of Children and Youth Affairs Child Protection Policy Jan 2011

Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children

Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools

Child Protection and Welfare Practice Handbook

Poetry Ireland’s Child Protection Policy