Last week’s post about homelessness and safeguarding seems to have chimed with a number of media reports about the same issue. In fact the day after the blog was posted new figures for homeless people dying were published indicating at least a 100 or more deaths in 2018 as compared with the 2017 figure of 597. A report in the Guardian newspaper yesterday told the story of a woman who died in a shop doorway. A colleague also told me yesterday that the night shelter opened only this week by the local Churches Together in our part of south west London, has been full each night so far. This is truly an issue of huge shame and significance that sadly, I fear, will not easily be solved in the immediate short term.
I wrote last time about the drive to encourage local authorities and their partners to develop more holistic services for people with complex needs, and I was pleased to learn from the same colleague that this is now on the planning agenda in my own local authority. So perhaps collecting the stories, sharing intelligence and the persistence of campaigners is beginning to bear fruit.
There’s a message here to safeguarding champions in our churches. If there is a local reluctance to engage with our policies, for whatever reason, It’s about calmly going about our business, observing what’s happening, building up a picture of what needs to be done and then making a compelling case to church council so that there is a record of solid effort to make improvements. Also, it’s not just about getting the DBS checks done, or making sure everyone is trained. These are critically important, but in addition it’s about taking a good look around our communities and seeing what we can do to safeguard our most vulnerable citizens. This column recently posted a statistic published by a local Safeguarding Adults Board about the profile of the lost likely victim of a safeguarding concern in its area, and I repeat it again – female, over 65, living in their own home and subject to physical abuse or neglect. Arguably, our church demographic is well represented in this group. Let’s make sure that we are alert to their stories and situations, and take account of these in our local safeguarding activities.