Updated: Jul 1, 2020
The Methodist Conference is meeting this week – in its strangely virtual way this time. Each year there is a report presented by the Safeguarding Committee, and in 2015 this was the means of sharing the outcome of the Past Cases Review. This was the three year project to review all that the Church knew about safeguarding concerns since 1950 and identify the actions that needed to be taken along the journey. You can access this year’s report here:
The Church has made significant strides over the last few years with real progress achieved in respect of trying to embed a fresh culture of safeguarding that permeates all that we do. This has included launching ministerial supervision, refreshing all our training programmes, a targeted focus on survivor concerns and enhancing our professional safeguarding practice. There are many other examples.
But of course it is what happens locally that really matters; that all should feel safe entering our buildings or taking part in church-organised activities and that anyone who has a concern should be listened to with care, promptly and effectively. This means paying attention to organising training for those who require it and ensuring the safe recruitment of new church officers, leaders and volunteers. It also involves reviewing local church policies to check if they remain fit for purpose and as our church environments change and adapt to our Covid-19 world, this will assume a higher profile than usual. Through the posting of publicity material that has been prepared for each local church to display we can also signal to all those who attend our churches that we take safeguarding seriously.
This probably reads like a back to basics reminder, and in one sense it is. Our Church policies require us to do all these things and as Conference signals the approaching end of our church year and the imminent start of the next it’s a good time to plan how churches will deliver this agenda locally in 2020/21. The key thing is that this is not just a tick box exercise. Doing safeguarding well is testimony to our faith and commitment. It’s a key part of ‘doing church’. It’s about caring for and protecting all God’s children, everywhere and all the time.