Mining my knowledge of 1960s beat music, I recalled this song by Hedgehoppers Anonymous released in 1966 and thought it would be a good title for this week’s piece. But then I hit a snag as I ‘googled’ it to check I had the details right. To my disappointment I discovered that it had been written and produced by Jonathan King who was convicted of child sexual abuse in September 2001. He was sentenced to 7 years in jail. In 2018 he was again in court charged with 22 similar offences but the trial collapsed as a result of evidence disclosure mistakes. The Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner acknowledged that police failures had badly let down numerous victims.
So why good news week? The irony of this title, and now knowing its provenance, is that last week the C of E announced that they had awarded Victim Support the ‘Safe Spaces’ contract which has been in various stages of development for over five years. Safe Spaces was first planned in 2014/15 and consists of a series of care and support options to better meet the needs of survivors of church context abuse. These options include the development of local support groups and a national telephone helpline. Quick off the mark the jobs were advertised almost the next day after the announcement. This is the first time that a national church has invested a considerable sum of money to develop a dedicated service of this kind. The C of E have been working closely with the Catholic Church who had similar ideas and hopefully survivors whose experience was in the Methodist Church can benefit from it as well in due course.
It’s difficult to spot genuinely good news stories just now although the incremental loosening of the lockdown is also welcome. But this is a good one for survivors, even if it was released shortly after the less good news about the former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, and the Bishop of Lincoln who are both now facing disciplinary measures as a result of reported concerns about their handling of safeguarding cases.
The good news also extends to the Methodist Church as it is working hard to produce a suite of new resources that will aim to deliver an improved response to survivors of abuse who look to our churches, too, as safe spaces. More on this a little later in the year, but a good news story now.
So on balance a good news week. Oh and did I mention the BBC1 live football on Saturday night and the two nil win for the Palace? Yes a good week.
Stay well and socially distanced.