This blog was not going to be about safeguarding at all, as I wanted to write about celebrating a certain South London football club scoring 5 goals yesterday. And still I was anxious as the opposition scored 3. But just when I could breathe a sigh of relief at the end of the match, I then observed our friend the Safeguarding Steward herding the wives, girlfriends and children of the players towards the players themselves and the manager as they all formed up for the lap of appreciation which is now the traditional last game of the season ritual. I still wonder what the Safeguarding Steward’s actual role is but it’s clear that his presence is required whenever children or vulnerable adults are on or near the pitch.
When we are out and about or perhaps at home watching TV, my grown up children often alert me to something they have seen or heard that they term a ‘safeguarding issue’. They say it out loud like a warning. Generally it’s a serious observation, but sometimes they are being a bit ironic or intimating, slightly humorously, that something that’s a bit odd could have the potential to become an ‘issue’ if misconstrued or perhaps not acknowledged. I guess this demonstrates that people see the world through different lenses perhaps based on their own work background or life experience, or even through knowing what their parents did or do for a living.
Given that my father worked for British Rail (pre the privatisation and franchise era) I’m always alert to train operations whenever I travel. Also, because he was a timetable planner, when a member of the family is travelling and we are keeping in contact by text, I try to predict whereabouts they are on the journey based on the departure time. I know, such a sad life I lead. Travelling back – by train of course - from a meeting with my job share partner just before Easter, I even saw a steam engine at the old Nine Elms coal depot near Vauxhall – so great to be able to see an historic locomotive getting ready for a special trip.
This week, this column seems to be a bit about combining business with pleasure, with a dose of family anecdote. These influences are also what make and shape us as we go about our safeguarding work. We bring together our knowledge, life experience and perception, hopefully supported by the training that the Church offers. The Advanced Level course in particular aims to equip leaders and ministers to ask their own questions and make their own observations, and then know what to do next. Inevitably the District Safeguarding Officer will still always be a first port of call, but the course is about inspiring confidence and helping local leaders to make sense of what they see going on around them.
But beyond the training, we can always broaden our horizons. Many of you will already do this, but next time look around in the settings that you visit, or what you watch on TV. Is there something that grabs your attention that links to your safeguarding role? Then think about why you noticed it and what you could learn from it. What does it have to say to you?
I will have to wait three months before I return to Selhurst Park – thank goodness for a break from the stress – but it’s going to be my new season resolution to find out exactly what the Safeguarding Steward does! I want to learn something new.