SAFEGUARDING PODCAST At the recent Church Council meeting, it was reported on how the Methodist Church is exploring the theology of safeguarding. There’s a full Conference report but a simple starting point is this 15 minute podcast. Well worth listening to.
A working policy for the safety and welfare of all children and adults who may be vulnerable and all those who work alongside them.
‘Every human being has a value and dignity which comes directly from God’s creation.’
Approved by Church Council on 15th February 2022
A Role for the Church
- As Christians we are charged to love and care for each other. This is particularly true where the most vulnerable members of our community are concerned. Children (up to the age of 18) and adults who may be vulnerable, have particular needs which can be met in some ways by the Church if its leaders and members respond to the call to be Christ’s people living in His way. This means living into today’s world amongst its problems and challenges, recognising that some of these will be challenges for the Church itself.
- The safety and welfare of children and adults who may be vulnerable are the responsibility of the whole Church. They need to feel cared for, valued and respected by the whole Church community. The Church has significant contact with people of all ages through Sunday and weekday activities. The duty of the Church is to provide a safe environment for these activities, whether on Church premises or elsewhere. The Church Council will be responsible for assessing the safety and suitability of the premises and equipment for all activities, including fire safety procedures.
- The Minister in pastoral charge, along with the stewards and Church Council, is responsible for the implementation of the Church, Circuit, District and Connexional Policies in line with Government legislation and guidance. The Church will respond without delay to any allegation or cause for concern that a child or vulnerable adult may have been harmed or at risk, (whether on Church premises or in any another context) and, when appropriate, will co-operate with the police and/or Statutory Authorities.
- Abuse of authority or power by anyone in a position of trust will be robustly challenged, as will any inappropriate behaviour displayed by any person on the premises.
- Any incidents that occur where abuse is suspected should initially be reported by individuals to the leader of their own group, where applicable, who should then seek advice as to the most appropriate course of action. An individual has the right to refer a situation directly to Statutory Authorities, especially in an emergency situation. However, consultation with relevant people is always advisable. The Safeguarding Co-ordinator, Circuit or District Safeguarding Officers can be contacted for support and advice. The Minister should be kept informed of any developments.
- All children and adults who may be vulnerable should be allowed and encouraged to share any concerns they have with parents, carers or Church staff/volunteers. The Methodist Church aims to create a culture of transparency and accountability where secrecy will not be tolerated (Methodist Church Policy Section 6.15 (April 2019)).
- The Minister and the Church Council have a responsibility to ensure that Creating Safer Space training is attended by those with roles identified by Connexion and approved by Methodist Conference. The Safeguarding Co-ordinator will make it clear to new workers at the registration stage that they will be required to attend the training.
- The Church is committed to the provision of support, advice and training for those who are ordained, those who are lay employees and those who are volunteers, to ensure people are clear and confident about their roles and responsibilities in safeguarding and in promoting the well-being of children and adults who may be vulnerable.
- We will seek to journey alongside those known to us who have suffered from abuse through an appropriate ministry of informed pastoral care.
- A Safeguarding Co-ordinator is appointed to administer safeguarding procedures on behalf of the church. (S)he will be a member of the Church Council.
- The policy should be reviewed and updated regularly. Safeguarding should be included on the Church Council agenda.
Registration of workers
- The Methodist Church directs, in accordance with current legislation, that everyone over the age of 16 who works with children or vulnerable adults must comply with procedures as set out in the Connexional Safer Recruitment Policy. This confidential information will be made available only to the Minister and the Safeguarding Co-ordinator, unless information is requested by statutory agencies. Two references must be obtained from people who are able to comment on the suitability of the applicant to work with children or vulnerable adults.
- Each worker is required to obtain an Enhanced Disclosure from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) through Due Diligence Checking appointed by the Methodist Church to process DBS applications.
- Helpers working under supervision at Church events where children are attending need not comply with full registration procedures, but should complete a form for Occasional Volunteers in advance of the event; the form will be retained by the Safeguarding Co-ordinator. It is the responsibility of the organisers of these events to give the Safeguarding Co-ordinator the names of any helpers in good time. There should always be at least one leader of the events who has a DBS Disclosure.
- It is the responsibility of the leaders to inform the Safeguarding Co-ordinator of any prospective new workers to ensure that they comply with all procedures. Young people under the age of 16 must not work unsupervised with children or vulnerable adults at any time. It is the responsibility of the leaders to inform the Safeguarding Co-ordinator when any young person is helping regularly in a group, and to give a reassurance that they will be properly supervised and supported.
- If a potential volunteer expresses the wish to visit a group (on no more than 2 occasions) before deciding to proceed with registering, the leader of that group must contact the Safeguarding Co-ordinator who will arrange for the potential volunteer to complete an Occasional Volunteer form; this must be lodged with the Safeguarding Co-ordinator beforeany such visits take place.
- Relating to the retention of personal data, the Church will comply with Methodist Church guidance on legislation concerning General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (May 2018). Full details available on the Methodist Church website. (9 steps for Methodist Managing Trustees to take to comply with GDPR).
- Records of any safeguarding incidents should be securely retained by the Minister and passed on to his/her successor.
- The Church accepts that the Uniformed Organisations have their own system of registration. However, in order that the Church Council is fully informed about all adults working with children on church premises, the Leaders must confirm their registration by completing the appropriate form and must provide a regularly updated list of names and addresses of adults working within their particular Section. Leaders of these groups will be warmly invited to attend Creating Safer Space training.
- Whilst having regard to the Church Safeguarding Policy, it is accepted that leaders will also comply with their own organisations’ policies. The person responsible for Church lettings will also be responsible for taking bookings for hire of the Scout hut. It is agreed that the same procedures will take place and that the Scout hut must only be hired out for young children’s parties and not for use by teenagers or adults. A copy of the Church Safeguarding policy will be on display in the Scout hut.
- The Safeguarding Co-ordinator will ensure that records are kept up to date by completing an annual audit of workers.
The Church and sex offenders
The Church must be aware of the Methodist Conference resolutions and the implications:
- no one who has been convicted of or has received a formal police caution concerning an offence against children and vulnerable adults shall be permitted to work with children and vulnerable adults in the life of the Church
- no one who has been convicted of, or has received a formal police caution concerning, sexual offences against children and vulnerable adults shall be appointed to certain offices within the life of the Church
Should any known sex offender wish to be a part of the Church community, the District Safeguarding Officer must be informed, and a Safeguarding Contract must be initiated to monitor and support the offender, as required by the Connexional Safeguarding policy and requirements. The District Safeguarding Officer must be involved in setting up a Safeguarding Contract.
Only a minority of those people committing offences are known to the relevant authorities. The Church has a responsibility to be vigilant in its recruitment of workers, and accepts the premise that Safeguarding is everyone’s business.