It is easy to assume that children and adults can take care of themselves – but if we are honest, we know that there are times when they can’t. Sadly, there are those who will try to take advantage of our vulnerability (our humanity) for their own gratification. The church recognises the need to safeguard children and vulnerable adults and to provide pastoral care to those who have been abused, whenever and wherever that abuse has taken place. We need to be honest enough to understand the need for informed vigilance in this area and brave enough to do something about it when we see it. Bridport Team Ministry will safeguard and promote good practice when working with children, young people and vulnerable adults based on the important document entitled ‘Safeguarding and Good Practice Guidelines’ produced by the Diocese of Salisbury in 2011.
Bridport Team Ministry:
- believes that everyone shares responsibility for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, young people and vulnerable adults, irrespective of individual roles.
- will provide procedures for staff and others to report concerns that they may have about the children they meet that are in line with What to do if you’re worried a child is being abused and LSCB procedures; provide appropriate codes of practice for staff, particularly those working directly with children; provide recruitment procedures in accordance with safer recruitment guidance and LSCB procedures, alongside training and supervision of staff (paid or voluntary).
- is committed to: the care, nurture and respectful pastoral ministry of all children and all adults; the safeguarding and protection of all children, young people and adults when they are vulnerable; the establishing of safe, caring communities which provide a loving environment where there is a culture of ‘informed vigilance’ as to the dangers of abuse.
To this end:
- We will carefully select, support and train all those with any responsibility within the church, in line with Safer Recruitment principles, including the use of criminal records disclosures and registration/membership of the relevant vetting and barring schemes.
- We will respond without delay to every complaint made, that any adult, child or young person may have been harmed, cooperating with the police and local authority in any investigation.
- We will seek to offer informed pastoral care and support to anyone who has suffered abuse, developing with them an appropriate ministry that recognises the importance of understanding the needs of those who have been abused, including their feelings of alienation and/or isolation.
- We will seek to protect survivors of sexual abuse from the possibility of further harm and abuse.
- We will seek to challenge any abuse of power, especially by anyone in a position of trust.
Working within a Spiritual Context, BTM is committed to:
Encouraging an environment where all people and especially those who may be vulnerable for any reason are able to worship and pursue their faith journey with encouragement and in safety. There is no single “spirituality” in any group – we are all who and where we are, formed by our experiences of life, love and loss – but the following thoughts on the spirituality of various groups may help to place safeguarding within the church context.
BTM agrees with Healthcare professionals who recognise that:
A person’s spirituality is an important aspect of care and recovery: sometimes this is known as ‘total care.’ As Jean Vanier wrote: we cannot grow spiritually if we ignore our humanness, just as we cannot become fully human if we ignore our spirituality. Churches, committed to compassionate care for the outcast, the marginalized and the stranger have a responsibility to walk alongside vulnerable people on their faith journey. This is not always easy and we may need to seek the additional support of specialist organisations such as those dealing with mental or physical disabilities.
As children & vulnerable adults will be influenced by the church context, the church should work in a variety of ways to foster their relationship with God and help children & vulnerable adults to understand and grow in that relationship with God through Jesus Christ. To do this the church needs to create a space where children & vulnerable adults can flourish and express their deep spirituality. Given the opportunity children & vulnerable adults will ask the most searching questions about faith, God and the church. The church has a vital role in children’s & vulnerable adults’ spiritual formation through encouraging genuine worship, teaching about faith, and being part of a practicing community. This means that as a church we should be committed to promoting and supporting environments which are child-friendly & vulnerable adult-friendly and nurture their positive development, and enable them to be active contributors to the church community whilst avoiding practices that discourage healthy spiritual development. It needs to protect children & vulnerable adults from actual or potential harm, enable and encourage concerns to be raised and responded to openly and consistently value, listen to and respect children & vulnerable adults.
Code of Practice
Touching/hugging: with adults, young people or children you should always ask whether they wish to be touched or hugged. Some may, but many do not (at least not on first acquaintance). Shaking hands is courteous and often appreciated by older people. If you do touch or hug, hands should always be outside the person’s clothing and never on any part of the body which might be considered inappropriate (knees, bottom, breasts). It is important that people with learning disabilities learn what form of body contact is appropriate in different social situations; this helps to keep them safe and helps them to become aware when people are behaving inappropriately and possibly exploiting them.
One-to-one situations: ideally, one-to-one situations should be avoided. If someone is distressed and it is desirable to take them to one side to give them privacy, tell one of the other leaders what you are doing and why. When making home visits, we recommend this is done in pairs – it makes the occasion more social for the person concerned. If you have concerns, you have someone to share them with or in the event of any subsequent complaint about the visit (and these things do happen), you have the support of your colleague.
Bullying: adults can be bullied as well as children. Never ignore or trivialise bullying.
Communicating with young people via Facebook, emailing & texting
Many young people regularly communicate using the internet and mobile phones. Using these methods can really help the church/group to stay connected with their group members and keep them up to date with what is going on. However it is important to use these methods in a safe way to protect yourself and the young people with who you work.
Positions of Trust
Exercising any kind of ministry, paid or voluntary, involves workers developing an understanding of themselves and how they relate to others, how they increase the well-being of others and how they ensure their own well-being and safety. People in positions of trust necessarily have power, although this may not be apparent to them, therefore respecting professional boundaries is particularly important.
Workers, both paid and volunteer, will be seen as role models by those with whom they are in contact at all times, including when they are off duty, therefore all church workers should conduct themselves in accordance with reasonable expectations of someone who represents the church. They should: take care to observe appropriate boundaries between their work and their personal life; seek advice immediately if they come across a child, young people or adult who may have been harmed (including self-harm) or a colleague whose conduct appears inappropriate; not expose themselves or others to material which is sexually explicit, profane, obscene, harassing, fraudulent, racially offensive, politically inflammatory, defamatory or in violation of any British, European or international law.
It is contrary to the policy of the Church of England for those in a position of trust, including priests and young people workers among others, to have sexual or inappropriate personal relationships with those for whom they are responsible. A breach of this is likely to be considered as a disciplinary offence. It will be referred to the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) and in some cases it may also constitute a criminal offence. Anyone found guilty of a criminal or disciplinary offence of this kind is likely to be dismissed and referred to the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) for possible barring.
It is important to recognise that behaviour outside the church environment can have an impact, not just on personal ministry but on the way the church as a whole is perceived by the community.
What to do if I suspect abuse?
If you see or hear something which makes you think that a child, young person or adult may be being neglected or abused in any way, you should not hesitate to report your concerns. Do not attempt to investigate or resolve the situation locally.
All the documents from the House of Bishops’ make it clear how we are to respond, as does Working Together to Safeguard Children (WTSC). The following is a précis of these documents and is what is required within this diocese:
- Contact Revd Pete Stone on 01308 426459 or the Parish Safeguarding Representative (PSR) Coral Hatton on 07900984031 unless they are the alleged abuser. In this case contact the Diocesan Safeguarding Advisor, Mrs Heather Bland, HCPC Registered Social Worker, Tel: 01722 411922 Mobile : 07500 664800
- Either Revd Pete Stone or Coral Hatton will contact the local social care to discuss their concerns. They will also contact the appropriate Diocesan Safeguarding Advisor (Heather Bland) either before or after their contact with social care.
- All referrals to social care need to be followed up in writing within 48 hours; if it was seeking advice good practice indicates that it is worthwhile confirming the discussion in writing.
- Whether it is a referral or seeking advice any directions and advice given by social care should be recorded and followed.
- There is no confidentiality in safeguarding with regard to any discussion with the statutory agencies, but there is within the diocese and parish and therefore there must be clear guidelines as to who will give support within the parish. The appropriate Diocesan Advisor will give support as well as advice and can be contacted at any point in the process.