Promoting a Safer Church

Safeguarding at St. Mary’s, West Chiltington

Protecting the vulnerable is at the very heart of the Christian faith.

Our safeguarding work in church is an expression of God’s kindness and compassion

and of our commitment to the gospel. 

The Church of England, its archbishops, bishops, clergy and leaders are committed to safeguarding as an integral part of the life and ministry of the Church. Safeguarding means the action the Church takes to promote a safer culture. This means we will promote the welfare of children, young people and adults, work to prevent abuse from occurring, seek to protect those that are at risk of being abused and respond well to those that have been abused. We will take care to identify where a person may present a risk to others, and offer support to them whilst taking steps to mitigate such risks. The Church of England affirms the ‘Whole Church’ approach to safeguarding. This approach encompasses a commitment to consistent policy and practice across all Church bodies, Church Officers and that everyone associated with the Church, who comes into contact with children, young people and adults, has a role to play. The Church will take appropriate steps to maintain a safer environment for all and to practice fully and positively Christ's Ministry towards children, young people and adults; to respond sensitively and compassionately to their needs in order to help keep them safe from harm.

  1. The Gospel

The Church is called to share the good news of God’s salvation through Jesus Christ. The life of our communities and institutions is integral to how we address this task. The good news speaks of welcome for all, with a particular regard for those who are most vulnerable, into a community where the value and dignity of every human being is affirmed and those in positions of responsibility and authority are truly trustworthy. Being faithful to our call to share the gospel therefore compels us to take with the utmost seriousness the challenge of preventing abuse from happening and responding well where it has.

 

  1. Human rights and the law

The Church recognises the personal dignity and rights of all children, young people and adults, as enshrined in the Human Rights Act 1998 and the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Safeguarding work is undertaken within a legislative framework supported by government guidance which sets out a range of safeguarding duties, responsibilities and best practice.

 

  1. Core principles

The following core principles underpin the Church’s approach to safeguarding practice: • The welfare of the child, young person and vulnerable adult is paramount* • Integrity, respect and listening to all • Transparency and openness • Accountability • Collaboration with key statutory authorities and other partners • Use of professional safeguarding advice and support both inside and outside the Church • A commitment to the prevention of abuse • The active management of risk • Promoting a culture of informed vigilance • Regular evaluation to ensure best practice.

 

  1. Good safeguarding practice

The following key features will help Church bodies promote and maintain a safer culture that protects and promotes the welfare of children, young people and vulnerable adults.* These features are:

• A leadership commitment, at all levels, to the importance of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, young people and vulnerable adults

• A safeguarding policy available to Church Officers

• A clear line of accountability within the Church for work on safeguarding

• Clear reporting procedures to deal with safeguarding concerns and allegations

• Clear roles for Church Officers

• Practice and services informed by on-going learning, review and by the views of children, young people, families and vulnerable adults

* These are based on Safe from Harm, Home Office, 1993, and the statutory guidance on making arrangements to safeguard and promote the welfare of children under section 11 of the Children Act 2004. It is acknowledged that the level and depth of arrangements that meet these key features will be dependent on the size and resources available to an individual church body.

• Safer recruitment procedures in place

• Clear arrangements for support and/or supervision

• Safeguarding training for all Church Officers working with or in contact with children, young people and/or vulnerable adults

• Effective working with statutory and voluntary sector partners

• Publicly advertised arrangements for children, young people and vulnerable adults to be able to speak to an independent person, as required

• Complaints and whistleblowing procedures that are well publicised

• Effective information sharing

• Good record keeping.

 

  1. Learning from the Past

In the July Synod 2013 Archbishop Justin Welby stated: ‘The reality is that there will always be people who are dangerous and are part of the life of the Church. They may be members of the congregation; we hope and pray that they will not be in positions of responsibility, but the odds are from time to time people will somehow conceal sufficiently well. And many here, have been deeply affected, as well as the survivors who have so rightly brought us to this place. Many other people here have been deeply affected and badly treated. So we face a continual challenge and reality … There has to be a complete change of culture and behaviour. And in addition, there is a profound theological point. We are not doing all this, we are not seeking to say how devastatingly, appallingly, atrociously sorry we are for the great failures there have been, for our own sakes, for our own flourishing, for the protection of the Church. But we are doing it because we are called to live in the justice of God, and that we will each answer to Him for our failures in this area. And that accountability is one that we must take with the utmost seriousness.’ The Archbishops of Canterbury and York wrote in their joint forward to 'Safeguarding: Follow-up to the Chichester Commissaries' Reports', June 2013: ‘We cannot overestimate the importance of responding appropriately today. Sadly for many this comes far too late. History cannot be rewritten, but those who still suffer now as a result of abuse in the past deserve this at least, that we hear their voices and take action to ensure that today’s safeguarding Promoting a Safer Church 16 policies and systems are as robust as they can be. This work is an essential and prior Gospel imperative, for any attempts we make to grow the Church, to seek the common good, and to reimagine the Church’s ministry.’ The statutory reports and independent reviews into abuse that have involved the Church of England and other faith organisations highlight past errors and significant lessons to be learnt to improve safeguarding. As a Church we continue to commit to a journey of truth, healing, learning and abuse prevention. So we face a continual challenge and reality . . . There has to be a complete change of culture and behaviour.

 

For more details on this and other safeguarding documents, please see the folder on 'Safeguarding' which can be found in St Mary's church.

To read the Parish Safeguarding Handbook, published by the Church of England, please click here