This is open up again week, but with a dollop of caution, it now seems. Depending on when you read this I will be preparing to go to or have just returned from watching Crystal Palace play Arsenal on Wednesday. 6,500 spectators are allowed and so I thought I would aim to go. I filled in my medical questionnaire a the weekend and so I hope to receive the print at home tickets shortly.
We have got used to booking all sorts of things we would have taken for granted 15 months ago. Booking a space at the council’s recycling centre was the one that surprised me the most, especially as whenever I have been there, the staff did not appear generally to be wearing masks and people depositing their garden waste and landfill did not seem to be doing much social distancing. When you are carrying a heavy and precarious load of rubbish, I think you tend to go in a straight line and not circumnavigate your fellow dumper.
Some churches also require you to book in, and if you have people come to do some repairs and maintenance at home, there are strict rules about masking, ventilation and staying in separate rooms. Cue a damp and cold May morning last week when we had a TV engineer call. With open windows, we sat with scarves and thick jumpers on.
The thing that we probably all miss just now is spontaneity – although more things can now happen, we still need to make arrangements in advance and check the rules. The Government also expects us to take responsibility for looking after ourselves and others and no doubt we will all have our own take on what that looks and feels like.
For those involved with promoting safeguarding in local churches, especially if operating a contract that enables an offender to worship safely, the idea of booking in to attend church under a set of laid down conditions will be familiar. Equally, these arrangement also rely on the subject of the contract taking personal responsibility for their own actions. In some cases, that can be challenging as boundaries can be pushed and what might seem like a reasonable request to adjust a feature of a contract, may herald the start of a process that waters down an agreement so that it no longer remains fit for purpose.
The learning for safeguarding in general is to appreciate that the rules and guidance in our policies are there for a purpose, and so to seek to change or set aside particular requirements cannot be a spontaneous option however innocuous it may seem. Careful thought and a proper assessment of risk will always be required. Football, the Church or the council tip – its all about everyone staying safe.