This week Methodist DSOs are gathered near Stratford upon Avon for their annual conference. This year we are looking at the idea of ‘Partnership, Breadth and Opportunity’ in our work recognising that we can work with other denominations or organisations to advance the safeguarding agenda in the places we serve. It’s a time to catch up with colleagues, share our news and hopefully learn about things we can apply when we get back to our Districts. It’s also a time to reflect in a safe space about what we do and perhaps how it makes us feel.
The need for structured space to talk about safeguarding is imperative. People from a social work background will be familiar with the idea of supervision and this is something that the Connexion is planning to formalise for all DSOs from September this year. In so doing this will enable the Church to be confident that a good quality safeguarding service is consistently on offer across the country.
But of course it’s at a local church and circuit level where much of the hard work of ensuring good safeguarding practice is taking place. Some safeguarding officers have good links with ministers or other experienced people in their local areas, but we know that for a good number of others it’s a bit of a lonely existence especially when there is not a lot of obvious local support and guidance. It can become dispiriting but also may mean that we fail to act on something that we, collectively, see or hear about.
Finding a safe time and place for those charged with discharging safeguarding responsibilities to talk about their work should be built into the life of each church and circuit. But it also needs people who get the agenda to act as that sounding board, so as I journey around the District this year I’ll be asking questions about support for safeguarders, and offering ideas about how that can be achieved. The District conference is an obvious first place to get support, but that’s only once a year. At the same time we don’t need to create new cumbersome structures, so let’s think together when and wherever we meet about what might work out best for all.