Since last week’s blog with its theme of femicide was published, we have very sadly learnt about the death of Sarah Everard. At the same time the national focus around how to combat male violence towards women and girls has got much sharper. Legislation currently making its way through Parliament will be scrutinised more than ever before to make sure it is fit for purpose and meets the challenges that we hear and read about far too often.
If you are part of the safeguarding network of the Methodist Church in particular, you will have an opportunity to respond to this growing concern through delivering and receiving training that draws attention to gender-based violence, and making sure that information about keeping safe and sources of support are readily available to all those who worship or attend events on our premises. Our services and study groups also provide space to explore mutual respect within God’s creation. Midway through Lent, the London District ’Woven’ course focuses on our experience of darkness, and whether it actually helps us truly see. The image used in the study guide to illustrate the session is particularly poignant this week – a young woman walking alone through a dark subway but also bathed in light. A really relevant image for us to focus on this time.
I know this blog is read by many people who are not directly connected to safeguarding work, so for me to wax lyrical about how good the London District conference was on Saturday will not have any immediate relevance. But it really was a great example of how, by using technology, our network can stay and learn together. The keynote speaker was Marcus Erooga, an academic and child sexual abuse consultant who focusses on promoting better organisational safety. His presentation was very stimulating and although majoring on child sexual abuse, there were messages in there about how to respond to ‘low level’ concerns about any behaviour that may raise questions in an observer’s mind. In the current context of addressing violence against women, it’s helpful, as ever, to remain vigilant and share any concerns, seen and heard, that suggest the possibility of inappropriate or risky behaviour. Your church safeguarding officer may well be the person who can help you make sense of what you’ve spotted.