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The rule of 6 and safeguarding

A glorious day to start the rule of six. What will be the impact? Places of worship will continue to be allowed to open, and it’s clear that our upcoming circuit meetings can be classed as work, worship and prayer meetings. Although it’s always good to meet up with people I must admit that I’ve never quite seen circuit meetings as social entertainment!

In the midst of the positivity of a return to ‘live’ worship and other activities, the column this week takes just a moment to remind churches that have to operate safeguarding contracts, that it’s important not to be swayed by the fact that the Covid-19 arrangements involve a high degree of scrutiny and the exercise of personal responsibility on and around church premises to keep safe. It may be required to adjust contracts if necessary, but not of course, to set them aside because of a view that Covid-19 arrangements somehow ‘trump’ their terms. The clauses in any contract were put there for a reason, and even though opportunities not to comply with detailed provisions may be severely limited, it’s often more about their intention to give a clear message of understanding of what is required behaviour under any set of circumstances. Let’s not be influenced by the present situation or the emotion of the moment to let our standards drop.

Those of you reading this, for whom this does not have any obvious relevance, you are happily in the majority. This is about when a person with a caution or conviction for a particular type of offence wishes to attend worship and a contract is drawn up that enables them to do so in safe way. So what can the majority of readers take from this?

Covid-19 is instilling in us a set of behaviours that six months ago we would never have thought imaginable. However, when it comes to safeguarding it’s best not simply to rely on the measures that stem from our virus risk assessments. As we generally do already, it’s going to be essential to keep up our ‘watching over one another in love’ to make sure that a series of new, and old, more familiar, boundaries are not crossed unexpectedly.

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