Our commitment to keeping adults and children safe

Everyone has the right to live without the fear of abuse. At Versus Arthritis (formally Arthritis Research UK and Arthritis Care) we want to make sure that everyone who uses our services, as well as our staff and volunteers, feel safe from harm.

There are many types of abuse, including physical, emotional, sexual and neglect. Anyone can be abused, and abuse can come from people they know, work with or even strangers.

Abuse can happen anywhere, including at home or in a place where you would expect to feel safe, such as in hospital or at school. Abuse is also happening more and more online. Whatever the situation, abuse is not acceptable.

How can you tell someone is being abused?

It isn’t always easy to know if someone is being abused. Some people may not realise they are being abused or they may not want to admit what is happening to them. If the abuse isn’t physical, it is even harder to identify when someone is being harmed. Some signs that you can look out for include:

  • bruises, falls and injuries
  • signs of neglect, such as clothes being dirty or a person being hungry
  • poor care either at home or in care (including a residential or nursing home or hospital)
  • changes in someone’s financial situation
  • changes in behaviour, such as loss of confidence or nervousness, isolation, being withdrawn.

These signs don’t necessarily mean that someone is being abused. But if you're worried about someone, it's better to be report it than not.

What should you do if you suspect someone is being abused?

If you think the person is in immediate danger, always call the police on 999.

If there's no immediate danger but you're still concerned, you can:

  • contact your local authority's adult safeguarding team or co-ordinator
  • speak to a social worker, community nurse, GP, or district nurse
  • contact the Care Quality Commission on 03000 616161 or report your experiences by completing their online form if the adult at risk is living in a registered care home or receiving domiciliary (home) care services
  • contact the police on the non-emergency number, 101.

What should you do if you need help?

If you're being abused or neglected, you should tell somebody that can help you. This could be a family member, a friend, a professional such as a GP or health worker, or perhaps an advocate (someone who can speak on your behalf). They can contact your local authority's adult safeguarding team or support you, if you wish, to do this yourself.

What should you do if you're thinking of harming yourself?

If you've had thoughts about harming yourself or ending your life, it's important you ask someone for help. Remember you're not alone. Even if you feel like you can’t talk to your family at this point, there are other people you can talk to.

  • You can speak to a friend, family member or someone you trust.
  • The Samaritans have a 24-hour support service on 116 123.
  • You can visit your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) department and tell the staff how you're feeling.
  • Contact NHS 111.
  • Make an urgent appointment to see your GP.

For more support and advice about getting support, you can visit Mind – call 0300 123 3393 or text 86463. Or you might want to read more more about getting help if you're feeling suicidal.

What should you do if you’re worried about a child?

If you're in a situation where you know or suspect a child is being abused or neglected, there are several steps you can take:

  • Call 999 if the child is in immediate danger.
  • You can get some advice or report your worries to the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000 or email help@nspcc.org.uk – you don't have to give your name if you'd prefer to remain anonymous.
  • Contact your local authority’s children’s services team and report your concerns. Again, you don’t have to give your name if you’d prefer to remain anonymous.

What should you do if you're a child and you're worried about abuse?

All children have the right to be protected from all forms of abuse. If you are being abused or bullied, or if you know someone who is, there are people you can ask for help.

What should you do if you think you are being abused

If you think that you, or someone you care about, is being abused you should always tell a trusted adult. This could be somebody in your family or a teacher, health worker or social worker.

Childline has great information and advice if you're worried about abuse. You can contact them on on 0800 1111, or sign up to email their counsellors directly.

Will I be believed if I tell someone?

People who abuse children tell them that no one will believe them. This is not true. The police and social workers understand how important it is that they listen very carefully when children are telling them about what has happened.

Sometimes children feel guilty and think they're to blame or should have done something to make it stop. Remember it is not your fault.