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Taking it to the streets again and again…

This week’s offering started off as a foray into the world of the DBS Update service. A rare journey I know, but one I was reminded of at our Circuit Leadership Team meeting on Monday. A colleague asked about Methodist policy concerning the use of the update service, and I commented that for various reasons I had made two parallel applications for myself in recent days, through different providers. So I felt that perhaps I now needed to take my own advice, given the service’s simplicity, to avoid this duplication of effort.

But DBS musings have been overtaken by the tragic news of several more stabbings of young people in London over the last week, and I echo the Monday Evening Standard’s front page question, ’When will it end?’ Some of our London circuits are in the heart of communities deeply traumatised about the alarming frequency of what’s been going on throughout the year, and I’ve written earlier about the need to apply our safeguarding knowledge and experience where we can to support our local churches.

This is a big topic, and recent calls have been to adopt a public health approach to prevention. This means an all systems focus with dovetailing contributions from a wide range of statutory and voluntary sector partners, and the Methodist Church in London, individually or collectively with other faith organisations, should play its part. It was therefore heartening to hear from the Church’s Equality and Diversity Officer speaking at the DSO day yesterday, as he called upon us to use our expertise and get involved in local schemes that can address this serious issue.

Serious youth violence is one aspect of a new phenomenon called ‘contextual safeguarding’ which aims to describe the significant harm that young people can both cause and experience through interactions rooted in gang culture, on line peer to peer abuse, county lines drug distribution and sexual exploitation. The government’s most recent child safeguarding guidance, ‘Working Together’, and published in September 2018 identifies contextual safeguarding for the first time amongst the more familiar lists of abuse types.

The practical challenge for the Connexional Safeguarding Team, DSO’s and their District Safeguarding Groups will be how to find the time, energy and resources to commit to this important work. So the need for a Connexional and key Districts task group to scope out a meaningful strategic response, what it might look like and what it will need to be effective is well signalled. As Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, suggested, we are in this for the long haul.

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