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Strange and startling times with eyes wide open

Well…. We are well and truly in a place even a week or so ago we probably never expected to be. Personally as I edge towards the total self-isolation threshold it’s a strange and worrying time, as it will be for many readers of this column. However I do not intend to add more column inches about the virus.

Safeguarding activity must continue. It’s at times of distraction when standards can fall, and calculating abusers may hope to benefit from attention being focused elsewhere or they pick up any whiff of looser supervision. But to carry on as normal is no longer possible so what’s to be done?

Many of our processes can be carried out remotely via email and other communications systems, but it’s the face to face contact of doing risk assessments, agreeing and monitoring contracts and asking people to share blemished DBS certificates that are going to cause us some challenges. Sadly this may mean that if we cannot meet to assess or supervise then some temporary prohibitions may have to be placed on the actions or presence of some individuals. Cases will be no doubt be different and so seek advice from your DSO in the first instance.

As we start this period of national uncertainty, it’s probably worth taking time to think about how best we protect vulnerable adults in our churches and the wider community. Not just from the virus but from the wiles of individuals who could use the opportunity to inveigle their way into the lives of others for their own advantage. The schemes that aim to look out for the elderly that are proliferating around the country have great intentions, and churches will no doubt be at the forefront. But it will pay to ensure that the safeguarding aspects of safe recruitment and supervision are consistently applied. However you are able and whatever your role – be alert!

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