Way Forward - introducing the Guardians programme


The Old Vic has created a new Guardians programme to offer ways for colleagues to share concerns about behaviour or the culture at work.

A Guardian is a trained member of staff who acts as a sounding board for colleagues who have something they want to share, but are unsure that the traditional routes of line management or HR are the best next step for them. As outlined in the Way Forward, our commitment to creating a safe and secure working environment for all, the role of a Guardian is to listen and give neutral support and advice on issues and, where relevant, to advise upon which processes and staff may assist. This could relate to something serious, or a more everyday matter. Guardians respect and maintain absolute confidentiality over issues raised with them except in cases in which the issues might amount to a criminal offence. Guardians are not in post to call out inappropriate practice; nor intervene and try to fix problems. They will only advise colleagues as to actions they can take themselves, if they wish to; and model, promote and uphold our culture.

Four to six Old Vic Guardians will shortly be appointed following a workshop and interview process. They will receive specialist training on facilitation and mediation, safeguarding and listening, the culture and values of The Old Vic, and its structure and processes before the programme formally begins in March 2018. They will then receive ongoing training and support throughout the year. Guardians are being selected from our current staff based on their open minded, friendly, approachable manner. They will be available to both our permanent and freelance workers and will support an open, considerate culture where anyone feels they can raise something in good faith.

‘The idea for The Old Vic’s Guardian programme grew out of our desire to help reassure people they have a voice. We want everyone to have a way to share their concerns with someone outside of the ‘regular’ reporting line. Our Guardians will actively listen and support, offering confidential advice on options, with discretion and empathy. A heartening outcome for us would be other theatres, and sectors, taking the concept of Guardians within their business, and making it their own.’

Kate Varah, Executive Director

If you want to find out more about the Guardians programme, and how you could implement one within your own organisation, click here.