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Red Alert

It’s hard to ignore the main news story this week, so I trust, if the forecast is to be believed, that by the time this is published cooler weather is well on its way. Advice and guidance seems plentiful and with an emphasis on hydration, keeping the curtains closed and staying out of the sun, hopefully all will be as well as can be expected.

Red is not my favourite colour. There are a number of reasons for this that I won’t share here for fear of causing offence in some footballing circles! But a red light or flag is the obvious way of attracting attention and telling us to stop right where we are or whatever we are doing. We ignore it at our, or someone else’s, peril.

But the red flag is also a message that tells us that we might need to do something straightaway. This week it’s checking on the vulnerable, whether young or old, and paying attention to pets and other wildlife.

So when we receive a receive a report about an individual’s concerning behaviour that warns of danger, or sadly tells us about something that may have already happened, there is no time to waste. Something has to happen as soon as possible to prevent potential or further abuse. As this column often reminds church communities, recognition that something is amiss should be the red flag which makes us respond. Our Foundation level training promotes the ‘4 Rs’ mantra that goes on to include refer and record. It also stresses that the first person who learns about a concern is not solely responsible for what happens next. A team approach is vital, but seeing that first red flag and acting upon it is the key to a successful safeguarding plan.

The red alert published by the Met Office this week is unprecedented and commentators seem to suggest that more such episodes are likely in the coming years. It has made us all sit up and take notice. In our safeguarding world though, taking notice is not a once in a lifetime event. Keeping an eye open for red flags, that might start out as amber, is what we are about.

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