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Team work

Happily the return to London SE25 went well on Saturday with an astonishing 3-0 win over the then Premier League leaders. It was also a dream start for a new striker who scored two goals in eight minutes on his debut.

But most of the press coverage was about how woeful the opposition were. They were castigated for being insipid, displaying little enthusiasm. In fairness however, it was noted that one or two of their best players were absent through injury or quarantine after world cup qualifying fixtures in the previous week.

When faced with a safeguarding challenge in our churches it’s really important that we are always fully on our game, and that the right people are in place to make robust and proportionate responses. It can’t be the day that we don’t quite turn up or blame a bad day at the office for not getting things done correctly. One football commentator described how one of the home team’s players ‘bullied’ the defender allocated to mark him and got by far the better of him to move quickly on goal. Although in a different context, we need to ensure we are not bullied (or groomed) by someone about whom we may have concern, and in so doing frustrate any unsafe, abusive or risky ambition they may have.

This means church leaders working together as an effective team to support each other, not leaving any one person exposed to challenging behaviour. It’s also about spotting any dangers early on and not letting things drift.

For many readers, this may sound like a re-statement of a theme that I often return to, but it probably warrants a reminder every now and again. As the season for autumn church councils and circuit meetings draws upon us, maybe it’s the occasion for a more thorough conversation than usual to supply assurance that all is in place, and that we are not just going through the motions when we come to safeguarding as an agenda item.

Next Saturday away to Liverpool may be a different proposition. Stay tuned.

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