Booking for this major training event and networking opportunity for all our PCC members closes on Monday 22nd February. Don't miss out!
This week we spoke to Su Foster and Ruth Reed in our Safeguarding Team about how they can help you to safeguard children, young people, adults and workers in your parish.
Q: What’s your workshop theme, and why did you choose it?
Su: We’re focussing on safe recruitment, because if we get the right people in the right posts, we reduce the risk. It’s about being proactive, not reactive – preventing or reducing the risk of harm, not just reacting to issues when they arise.
Q: What can PCC members expect from your workshop?
Ruth: They’ll know the right way to go about making appointments at all levels - safe recruitment practise.
Su: We’re not focussing on DBS applications, though we can answer questions if people ask.
Q: What can our PCCs do to create safer communities?
Su: Think about safeguarding at every step of the process – if you’ve got that mindset from the beginning, then you’re more likely to ask the right questions.
Ruth: It’s also about reacting appropriately and taking seriously what you’re told when you hear about a safeguarding issue.
Q: What are simplest, and most radical steps a PCC can take?
Ruth: Recognising where safeguarding touches ministry, especially in the adult world. There’s a greater understanding of the legal parameters of safeguarding children, whereas that isn’t so clear with vulnerable adults, or adults at risk, as they’re now known. There’s a need to have clear boundaries that everyone can understand in pastoral situations.
The most radical step is to have the courage to ask questions and establish relationships with us – every case is unique, there’s no stock answer for everything.
Su: The Archdeacons’ Articles of Inquiry will have a comprehensive safeguarding audit and a brief action plan for parishes to undertake. The national church is auditing the dioceses this year and next, then they’re looking at auditing parishes individually after that. It’s about thinking more broadly about keeping children, adults at risk and ourselves as workers safe.
Q: Why is it important that churches take safeguarding seriously?
Ruth: Our communities should be a model of Christ and have the highest standards. In the past, our standards have been too low.
Su: We’re working towards excellence. If a child’s harmed in church through people’s actions (or inaction), they may never trust God.
Q: What would you say to someone who 'we are doing God’s work, we don’t need safeguarding boundaries?'
Su: We point out when we’re delivering our training that the PCC is the accountable body, and if you’re not following good practice guidelines as stated in the House of Bishops and the Diocesan policy, then you’re not insured, and the financial liability, should you be sued, rests with you. It’s a hard message, and we do temper it a little, but our PCC members need to be aware of that.
Ruth: And the spiritual aspect is that every person injured by another person, injures God.
Q: What are the greatest challenges our churches are facing in terms of safeguarding?
Su: Recognising that children and adults at risk can be harmed in a church setting.
Ruth: We have to recognise that to do that efficiently, you need a lot of skilled people. That’s where safe recruitment comes in.
Q: What’s your background
Su: I'm the Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser for Children. I was a nurse and health visitor, so I can deliver a baby if required! I gained an MA in Child Protection, and became a specialist designated nurse in that area. I've been with the Diocese fir 11 years.
Ruth: I'm the Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser for Vulnerable Adults & Disability. I was a Church Army officer and residential social worker. I became involved in supporting vulnerable adults through my interest in disability issues. I've worked with the Diocese since 1988.
Q: How can the Safeguarding Team help?
We can work with PCCs if you want it, deliver training, respond to issues, and be accessible (within reason – it’s not an emergency on call service).
We can respond to email enquires more quickly if you leave a phone number when you make contact.
Click here for more details of the Making It Easier Day on 27th February.
For further information from the Safeguarding Team, click here.
To contact our Safeguarding Team at St James' House,
email Su Foster email@example.com or Ruth Reed Ruth.Reed@liverpool.anglican.org