Mrs Linda Smith
Notts & Derby District Safeguarding
Rev Susan Mc Ivor
Connexional (National) Safeguarding Adviser
Mr Tim Carter
020 7467 5110
‘Safeguarding has emerged as a growing and integral part of our church life. Five years ago the Methodist Church committed itself to introducing ‘Creating Safer Space' foundation and leadership (training) modules for all members, church workers and ministers undertaking work with children and vulnerable adults in a safe , clear way consistent with the church's mission and purposes.'
(Tim Carter (Connexional Safeguarding Adviser), Creating Safer Space Foundation Module and Foundation Refresher Handbook, Foreword 2016.)
‘Creating Safer Space' for all is about creating an environment within our church communities where those who are vulnerable- children and adults -are respected, valued protected and listened to. This is at the core of our faith.'
(Slide 27, Creating Safer Space Foundation Training presentation. 2016)
Making and keeping our churches safe remains a challenge.
We welcome all people, as Jesus did..... Children, young people, adults (some of whom may be vulnerable) and also children and adults who may be survivors of abuse. However, wherever people gather there are always some people who may pose a risk to others. They are a risk because they have previously perpetrated abuse or because they have the potential to abuse. Those who may be a risk to others do not have a rightful place in our church if they still aim to abuse. (But they may still be in our churches unknown to us). The welcome is for those who want to repent and move on and are prepared to be managed safely in our church communities.
‘The Methodist Church's own ‘Past Cases Review' (where the Methodist Church community nationally was asked to share its experience of how the Methodist Church has dealt with abuse cases since 1950s) has taken us along a painful path of learning, apology and subsequent commitment to improve practices and procedures'
(Tim Carter 2016.)
We can learn from the past, from our mistakes, but our roots are in the future! We do not concern ourselves with safeguarding just because the government tells us to! The Past Cases Review told us that our church family expected more care....We are ‘Called to Care'. We are called to be in relationship with God and with each other....we are One Body. Every local church now has a safeguarding officer, every circuit and district has a safeguarding team. The law states how we must keep our children and young people, under 18 years safe. Safeguarding adults is a continuation of the good pastoral care which is carried out in our local churches. Safeguarding is about the concept of dignity...empowering, enabling, equipping, supporting individuals to be less vulnerable and able to defend and protect themselves from harm.
We all have a part to play in keeping our church communities safe. We all see, hear, and have some awareness of what is happening in our church buildings and in our church communities. It is the responsibility of each person to share any safeguarding concerns or worries (however small) with the minister, superintendent minister or safeguarding officer who should make sure that the appropriate action is taken to address those concerns. Your concern may be about the more well- known signs of abuse (physical, emotional, sexual or neglect) or about other forms of abuse (domestic, financial, discriminatory, institutional, spiritual) or you may become aware of one of the newer emerging types of abuse ( abuse using social media, child sexual exploitation, trafficking, modern slavery, self- neglect or radicalisation). For your minister, it may be just a case of recording the details of the concerns raised at that stage or discussing the matter with District Safeguarding or taking immediate action to prevent further harm......Many of the initial prompts, initial investigations come from the body of the church for this is where we are in relationship with each other, this is also where people may choose to share their wounds, their hurting from past or present abuse and search for healing and the path to wholeness.
So please expect to be asked to do safeguarding training (to establish what your role is in safeguarding and what to do if somebody shares some information about abuse with you) and expect to be asked to give some personal background details if you apply for a job or volunteer role in one of our churches. We are just trying to keep our churches as safe as we can and with God's help we will.