Your privacy is important to us. Here’s how we protect and respect your details
At Action for Children, we're honest, we're analytical, we're straightforward – it's part of our values.
We apply these values to everything we do– including how we treat your personal information.
Your ongoing support is invaluable to us. Without it, we cannot continue to help the hundreds of thousands of children, young people, and families we reach every year, across the UK.
To keep your support, we know we need to earn your trust, so we treat your personal information as you'd expect – with respect.
Below is our promise to you – whether you're a supporter, donor, fundraiser, campaigner, volunteer, foster carer, adoptive parent, or someone who uses our services: we've included an outline of how, why, and when we obtain and use your personal information, and how we keep it safe and secure.
Our promise to you
We are responsible for protecting your personal information, and we take this responsibility very seriously.
If you have any queries or concerns about how we use your personal information, please contact the Data Protection Officer:
By email: [email protected]
By post: Data Protection Officer, Action for Children, 3 The Boulevard, Ascot Road, Watford, WD18 8AG.
You have the right to withdraw your consent at any time.
So, we promise…
1. To only collect personal information (or 'data') from those who directly interact with us: supporters, donors, fundraisers, event attendees, volunteers, campaigners, foster carers (and/or those who make enquiries), adoptive parents (and/or those who make enquiries), those who use our services, those who use our website and those who request access to our records e.g. a genealogy request.
2. We – Action for Children – may be the 'data controller' or ‘data processor’ in respect of your personal information depending on the service provided, and are responsible for what happens to it, where it goes, and who sees it … and you can hold us to account for this.
3. That we will never ever sell your data to third parties for their own marketing needs.
4. To collect the minimum personal information we need, limited, where relevant, to your:
- Age/date of birth
- Contact number(s)
- Email address(es)
- Postal address
- Contact preferences (do you prefer emails or SMS messages?)
- Information for 'market analysis'
- Records of fundraising events you've attended
- Campaigns you've supported
- Lobbying events you’ve attended
- Historical details relating to your foster or adoptive family (if relevant to you as an individual)
- Record of your contact with us – whether a query, compliment, or complaint.
5. To only obtain and use this information, where relevant, to:
- Raise further awareness of Action for Children and the work we do
- Help raise further funds to support children and families across the UK
- Learn how best to contact you (and what about)
- Keep a record of your support
- Some information may be used to help us profile donors to support with our approach to communications
- Progress applications (employment, volunteering, fostering, adoption) or any other enquiries
- Learn how to improve our products and services
- Learn about other audiences who may be interested in supporting the work of Action for Children (and the new products, services, and information they may be interested in).
6. To keep your data for personal information for:
- As long as you are an active campaigner, donor, or fundraiser – and only for as long as necessary after your last interaction with us.
- Up to five years if you make a genealogy request.
- Up to six years in relation to Gift Aid (in compliance with HMRC regulations)
- Up to seven years if you volunteer with us
- As long as is necessary in relation to fostering and adoption and any other enquiries
- As long as necessary if you have pledged a Legacy to us.
7. That you can opt out of receiving communications from us at any time.
We will only be able to send communications, updates, or information to those who have stated they are happy for us to do so.
8. That you can request to access, change, or delete your information at any time.
9. To only share your personal information with carefully selected third party partners, where relevant – and never for third party sale purposes – for:
- Secure storage
- Market analysis (looking at the types of people who engage with us, and why)
- Screening data, so that we don’t send information to an old address, or call an old phone number
- Emailing via our email partners
- Calling you, via Ethicall
- Sending printed material (newsletters, updates, magazines, appeals)
- Securely processing Direct Debits
- Looking for prospective supporters, of a similar background, via Facebook
- Securely processing donations from text giving platforms, using selected partners.
But… please be mindful that our website may contain links to and from other websites – partners and affiliates – and they will have their own privacy policies, which we do not accept any responsibility or liability for.
10. That the previously mentioned third parties can only act on our strict instructions, in line with our contracts with them, and cannot use your personal information for any reason outside of those instructions, or sell those details to any other organisations.
11. To protect your personal information by:
- Only keeping it for as long as is strictly necessary
- Only passing it to carefully selected third parties
- Anonymising your personal details when using data for market analysis
- Encrypting your personal information when using it to develop new services or products, or looking for supporters of a similar background or age
- Ensuring all online forms are encrypted and that our network is protected
- Securely destroying your identity documents once we've acted on an Access to Records or Genealogy request
- Acting upon any requests to view, change, or delete your information, within one calendar month unless the request is complex and more time is required.
12. If you are unhappy with how we've handled your personal information, or a complaint you've made in respect of this, you have the right to contact the Information Commissioner's Office.
Who we are
1. In the legal sense
Action for Children is a leading UK children's charity, registered in England and Wales (Charity Number: 1097940), and in Scotland (SC038092). We are also a company limited by guaranteed registered in England and Wales (company number: 04764232). Our registered office is at 3 The Boulevard, Ascot Road, Watford, Hertfordshire, WD18 8AG
Action for Children and other Action for Children Group Companies are the data controller for the information you give us. We use your consent, or legitimate interest, as the lawful basis for processing personal information.
2. In plain English
Action for Children is a charity supporting 370,000 children, young people, and families across the UK, every year.
We support them through practical, evidence-based programmes and services, proven to work:
- Helping families stay together
- Supporting children in their early years
- Stepping in early to stop abuse and neglect
- Finding loving foster and adoptive parents
- Supporting young carers
- Supporting children with disabilities
- Steering young people away from trouble – into training and employment.
And we continue to campaign to change flawed policies – to make life better for children, from the moment they’re born.
We've been supporting children for almost 150 years – from our humble beginnings as the National Children’s Home to our role as Action for Children; protecting hundreds of thousands of vulnerable children and young people, right across the country.
In that time, we’ve worked with thousands of supporters, donors, campaigners, volunteers, foster and adoptive parents, and we continue to do so – as Action for Children.
We couldn’t do what we do without you. Thank you for helping so many children.
Adoption and fostering
We will only ever use the information you provide, in our online form, for:
- Sending you information about adoption and fostering
- Contacting you follow-up calls
- Market analysis
When we say 'market analysis’, we're simply looking to learn more about the types of people who might be interested in fostering and adoption, and we’ll always use minimal personal details when doing this.
However, you can contact us, at any time, to object to the use of your information for market analysis.
You can also withdraw your initial application, if you do not wish to go ahead and foster or adopt.
In terms of securely storing your information, this is done through our partners, SCN (Social Care Network), who manage a system called Charms on our behalf.
We only keep your information for as long as we need. If you decide to progress your enquiry to become a foster carer, or adopt, then the length of time your information is held changes, and is determined by law.
What information we collect about you
When you apply to be a foster carer or adoptive parent, Action for Children may collect the following information about you to create your record, containing:
- personal details such as your name, date of birth, gender, nationality, address and contact details; including email address and telephone number;
- sensitive personal details such as your ethnicity, sexuality, health, disability and religion or beliefs;
- your childhood, family and other relationships including current and past marital status, education experience, employment history and finances;
- references from previous and current employers and other relevant references.
If approved as a foster carer, we will need to collect additional details about you these will be added to your foster carer record:
- bank account information;
- records of the children placed with you and how you care for them;
- any training or courses you complete;
- updates and changes to your health or circumstances;
- records of your supervisions, meetings and annual reviews;
- any complaints or allegations about you;
- information from the children you look after;
- information from parents of the looked after children;
- checks obtained in respect of other people within your household.
We will ask you to give us most of this information. We will obtain information from others: the organisation managing criminal records checks, personal referees and employers, your doctors. We will only approach these parties where you have provided consent.
We may also obtain information from children you are looking after, their parents or family, and from professionals working with the children and any other relevant sources who might bring information to our attention.
Personal information about others in your family and/or living in your household is collected as part of your foster carer record. Most of this information is provided by you, by them directly, or occasionally by others. Please inform your family and household members about this, according to their age and understanding, and tell them that they can read this privacy notice if they wish.
Using your personal information
Action for Children will only use your information to fulfil legal obligations as a fostering or adoptive service, for the following reasons:
- assessing your suitability to be a foster carer/adoptive parent;
- matching you with children who need to be fostered/adopted;
- supporting and supervising your activity as a foster carer;
- reviewing at least annually your continued suitability to foster;
- maintaining your application if approved as a foster carer;
- meeting legal obligations and fostering and adoption regulations.
Who we might share your information with
We may share some of the above information about you where we have a legal obligation, this includes the following:
- To undertake checks and references as part of the fostering assessment, and only where you have explicitly consented;
- Panel members who approve foster carers and at subsequent reviews;
- Local authority commissioning services who are considering whether you might be suitable to foster a specific child they are seeking to place;
- Regulatory bodies when they are inspecting the fostering service as required by law;
- To allow your information to be held securely on our database that is commissioned from the Social Care Network;
- With the Independent Review Mechanism if you ask for a review of any decision by the fostering service about your suitability or continued suitability to foster.
How long we keep your information safe and secure
We have a system to ensure that your information is only accessed by individuals authorised by us in the performance of their duties.
Your personal data that is held electronically on a system called Charms is only accessible to legitimate persons.
All of our staff are trained in data protection duties, and are required to comply with our data protection policies.
How long we keep your information
We only keep your information as long as we need to; the law expects us to keep your information for: 6 years if you withdraw your application or your application is unsuccessful.
If your application is approved your details are kept for 10 years from the date on which approval is terminated.
Access to records and genealogy requests
If you make a genealogy request, to trace a member of your family, or request access to our historical records, we’ll collect information to:
- Check your identity
- Keep a record of all enquiries received
- Help locate the information you’ve requested
- Monitor our service
We’ll never share your data with any other organisation, unless required by law, and once we’ve acted upon your request, your identity documents will be securely destroyed.
Any other information in relation to your request, such as notes from meetings, is added to your file and stored according to the data protection legal requirements – for example:
- For residential care files – 75 years from date of birth
- For adoption files – 100 years
- For Genealogy enquiries – 5 years
- For all other files – 6 years (unless the law requires otherwise).
When you support us by campaigning – for example, lobbying government to change a policy affecting children – we collect the information you provide, but only with your consent, to:
- Keep a record of your support
- Send you relevant information about campaigns
- Request further support
- Keep records of our contact with you – updates or information we send, and any enquiries or complaints you make.
We may sometimes use your data for our legitimate interest, helping us to become more effective as a children's charity – for example:
- Understanding the types of people who support Action for Children
- Finding new supporters of a similar background or age group,
- Developing new products and services.
The data we use would be completely anonymised and we’d only use the minimum amount required.
We may share limited information about you with our third party partners, but this will only be so that we can contact you in relation to Action for Children campaigns, appeals, or updates on events or services.
As mentioned, these partner organisations can only act on our instructions.
And, if you'd rather this information wasn't shared, you can ask to have it changed, withdraw your consent, or object to it being used (in our legitimate interests), at any time. See Your rights, below, for more details.
Fundraising, donations and legacies
When you support our work by fundraising; taking part in an Action for Children event (such as Spring Ladies Lunch or the Giant Wiggle); raising funds for us via a third party event (like the London Marathon); donating your own money or money raised by a group; or choosing to leave a gift in your will, we’ll collect the information you provide and only use it to:
- Keep a record of your support
- Keep a record of your preferred method of contact (phone, email, post, SMS)
- Send you relevant information about our work, including campaigns or fundraising events
- Ask for further support
- Note fundraising events you’ve taken part in
- Keep records of our contact with you – updates or information we send, and any enquiries or complaints you make
- Keep information about donations and Gift Aid, to comply with HMRC requirements.
We may carefully use some of your personal information for our legitimate interests – fully encrypted – to help us in:
- Understanding the types of people who support Action for Children
- Finding new supporters of a similar background or age group
- Developing new products and services
- Understanding how we can improve existing products and services
- Advertising those products and services to people with similar interests to you.
We may share limited information about you with our third party partners, but this will only be so that we can contact you in relation to Action for Children campaigns, appeals, or upcoming events.
As mentioned, these partner organisations can only act on our instructions.
We keep information about donations and Gift Aid for 6 years, to comply with HMRC requirements.
And, if you’d rather this information wasn't shared, you can ask to have it changed, withdraw your consent, or object to it being used to help us (in our legitimate interests), at any time. See Your rights for more details.
Action for Children is the data controller for the information you provide during the process unless otherwise stated. If you have any queries about the process or how we handle your information please contact us at [email protected].
What will we do with the information you provide to us?
All of the information you provide during the process will only be used for the purpose of progressing your application, or to fulfil legal or regulatory requirements if necessary.
We will not share any of the information you provide during the recruitment process with any third parties for marketing purposes or store any of your information outside of the European Economic Area. The information you provide will be held securely by us and/or our data processors whether the information is in electronic or physical format.
We will use the contact details you provide to us to contact you to progress your application. We will use the other information you provide to assess your suitability for the role you have applied for.
What information do we ask for, and why?
We do not collect more information than we need to fulfil our stated purposes and will not retain it for longer than is necessary.
The information we ask for is used to assess your suitability for employment. You don’t have to provide what we ask for but it might affect your application if you don’t.
If you use our online application system, this will be collected by a data processor on our behalf (please see below).
We ask you for your personal details including name, contact details and an updated curriculum vitae. We will also ask you about your previous experience, education, referees (to be provided if you are successful in securing the role) and for answers to questions relevant to the role you have applied for. Our recruitment team will have access to all of this information.
You will also be asked to provide equal opportunities information. This information will not be made available to any staff outside of our recruitment team, including hiring managers, in a way which can identify you. Any information you do provide, will be used only to produce and monitor equal opportunities statistics.
Our hiring managers and recruitment consultants will shortlist applications for interview. They will not be provided with your equal opportunities information if you have provided it.
We might ask you to participate in assessment days; complete tests or occupational personality profile questionnaires; and/or to attend an interview – or a combination of these. Information will be generated by you and by us. For example, you might complete a written test or we might take interview notes. This information is held by Action for Children.
If you are unsuccessful following assessment for the position you have applied for, we may ask if you would like your details to be retained in our talent pool for a period of nine months. If you say yes, we would proactively contact you should any further suitable vacancies arise.
If we make a conditional offer of employment we will ask you for information so that we can carry out pre-employment checks. You must successfully complete pre-employment checks to progress to a final offer. We are required to confirm the identity of our staff, their right to work in the United Kingdom and seek assurance as to their trustworthiness, integrity and reliability.
You will therefore be required to provide:
- Proof of your identity – you will be asked to attend our office with original documents, we will take copies.
- Proof of your qualifications – you will be asked to attend our office with original documents, we will take copies.
- You will be asked to complete a criminal records declaration to declare any unspent convictions.
- We will provide your email address to the relevant Disclosure Body to enable an application for a Criminal Record check via the DBS, Disclosure Scotland, or Access NI, which will verify your declaration of unspent convictions.
- We will contact your referees, using the details you provide as part of the onboarding checks, directly to obtain references
- We will also ask you to complete a questionnaire about your health. This is to establish your fitness to work. This is done through a data processor (please see below).
If we make a final offer, we will also ask you for the following:
- Bank details – to process salary payments
- Emergency contact details – so we know who to contact in case you have an emergency at work
Transfer of Undertakings and Protection of Employment (TUPE)
Where your employment transfers to Action for Children and other Action for Children Group Companies under TUPE regulations, the transferring employer remains the data controller until the transfer takes place.
TUPE requires that information (known as ‘employer liability information’) must be given to the new employer before the transfer takes place. This includes some personal data. This information will only be used in connection with the proposed transfer. GDPR allows this disclosure because it is required by law and consent is not required.
Action for Children and Action for Children group companies will not request more information than is required under the TUPE regulations and will comply with GDPR principles when handing this personal information. In the event that additional information is required, the data controller will request consent from the affected employees.
Once the transfer has taken place Action for Children and Action for Children group companies will receive further information from each transferring employee’s employment record (e.g. Personal File). The former employer does not need the employees’ consent to the transfer of their personal information if it is necessary for the purpose of the transfer and business needs of both parties.
Use of data processors
Data processors are third parties who provide elements of our recruitment service for us. We have contracts in place with our data processors. This means that they cannot do anything with your personal information unless we have instructed them to do it. They will not share your personal information with any organisation apart from us. They will hold it securely and retain it for the period we instruct.
- Guidant Group
Our permanent recruitment and disclosure services are outsourced to the Guidant Group (who is a subsidiary of Impellam Group Limited), they will have access to the information on eacru for the purposes of your application for employment with Action for Children/Spring Nurseries.
Here is a link to their Privacy Notice – https://www.guidantgroup.com/privacy
If you use our online application system, you will provide the requested information to eacru who provide this online service for us. Once you click ‘apply now’ you will be taken to eacru website and they will hold the information you submit but Action for Children will have access to it.
Here is a link to their Privacy Notice – http://www.earcu.com/privacy
- Midland itrent
If you accept a final offer from us, some of your personnel records will be held on Midland itrent, which is an internally used HR information system.
Here is a link to their Privacy Notice – https://www.mhr.co.uk/privacy-policy/
- Collingwood Health
Collingwood Health provide our Occupational Health service. If we make you a conditional offer, we will ask that you complete a questionnaire which will help to determine if you are fit to undertake the work that you have been offered, or advise us if any adjustments are needed to the work environment or systems so that you may work effectively.
We will send you a link to the questionnaire which will take you to Collingwood Health website. The information you provide will be held by Collingwood Health who will provide us with a fit to work certificate or a report with recommendations. You are able to request to see the report before it is sent to us. If you decline for us to see it, then this could affect your job offer. If an occupational health assessment is required, this is likely to be carried out by Collingwood Health.
Here is a link to their Privacy Notice – https://collingwoodhealth.com/privacy-policy/
- GBG Online Disclosure, Access NI, Disclosure Scotland & Security Watchdog
The above parties complete criminal record check on behalf of Action for Children. If you are successfully selected for a role then we will provide you with instructions on how to complete these either online or via post.
Here is a link to their Privacy Notice
GBG Online – https://www.gbgplc.com/uk/privacy-policy
Access NI – http://www.accessnichecks.co.uk/privacy
Disclosure Scotland – https://www.mygov.scot/privacy
Security Watchdog – https://www.securitywatchdog.org.uk/candidate-zone
How long is the information retained for?
If you are successful, the information you provide during the application process will be retained by us as part of your employee file for the duration of your employment plus 6 years following the end of your employment. This includes your criminal records declaration, fitness to work, records of any security checks and references.
If you are unsuccessful at any stage of the process, the information you have provided until that point will be retained for 2 years from the closure of the campaign unless you make a request to the Recruitment Service to remove this.
Information generated throughout the assessment process, for example interview notes, is retained by us for 2 years following the closure of the campaign.
Equal opportunities information is retained for 2 years following the closure of the campaign whether you are successful or not.
eArcu and Guidant Group will provide us with management information about our recruitment campaigns. This is anonymised information which tells us about the effectiveness of campaigns, for example, from which source did we get the most candidates, equal opportunities information for monitoring purposes. This anonymised information will be retained 2 years from the end of the campaign.
How we make decisions about recruitment?
Final recruitment decisions are made by hiring managers and members of our recruitment team. All of the information gathered during the application process is taken into account.
You are able to ask about decisions made about your application by speaking to your contact within our recruitment team or by emailing [email protected]
Under the Data Protection legislation and GDPR, you have rights as an individual which you can exercise in relation to the information we hold about you.
You can request to see any information we hold about you and ask to have any inaccuracies corrected. You can read more about these rights here – https://ico.org.uk/for-the-public/is-my-information-being-handled-correctly
We'll only ever use the information you provide, and references from your chosen referees, to:
- Assess and progress your application
- Contact you regarding volunteer opportunities
Your information is securely stored with Better Impact, a data storage company in Canada – a country recognised as providing robust protection by the European Commission.
How we use profiling
We are grateful for every single penny we receive from our supporters – every penny that goes towards changing children’s lives for the better.
But we want to ensure that what we ask of our supporters is fair, reasonable, and relevant, to them.
For this reason, we do something called 'profiling'.
It's standard practice across the charity sector, and simply means we look at your personal information – your background – and consider what’s appropriate to ask of you, or send to you.
We do this manually, by looking at information that you’ve given us, or information that’s publicly available – for example, on social media and other public sources.
It means we can tailor communications so that they are relevant (perhaps in relation to one of our services in your area), timely, and respectful – only asking for donations that are within a supporter’s means, or appropriate for those who may be able/willing to give more than they already do.
It also enables us to identify those who are in the fortunate position of being able to help us fund entire projects or services, and whether they would like to meet us to develop a more personal relationship and/or discuss future opportunities to support our work in helping children.
In turn, this approach means we can raise funds sooner, and more cost-effectively – something we know to be of great importance to our supporters.
If you would rather your personal information is not used for the purposes of profiling, please contact us using the details in the Your rights section of this policy.
You have the right to:
- Ask what information we hold about you – and be given that information
- Ask us to correct, change, or update any information we hold about you
- Withdraw your consent for us to use your information
- Ask us to delete your information entirely
- Make a complaint or ask any other question in relation to your information
In relation to fundraising, legacies, donations or campaigns, you have the right to:
- Opt out of communications
- Object to your data being processed by us (for legitimate interests) – for market research/analysis purposes
The above rights do not apply in all circumstances and this will be explained when you make the request.
You can also write to us at:
Action for Children,
3 The Boulevard,
If – having contacted us about the use of your personal information – you are unhappy with our response, you can register a complaint with the Information Commissioner’s Office. If you are based in Guernsey you should contact the Office of the Data Protection Authority.
With that in mind, you are advised to revisit the policy for the most up-to-date information.