It was good to see reports this week that Rotherham Children’s Services have been ‘transformed’ according to Ofsted and are now judged as being good. This is a big turnaround from 2014 when the local authority and South Yorkshire Police were roundly condemned for failing to tackle the child sexual exploitation (CSE) problems that the community had experienced over a period of time. Alexis Jay, the chair of the IICSA, investigated what had happened and a team of government officials was sent in to turn Children’s Services around.
The churches in the town, as well as the local mosque, were very keen to offer what they could to promote both healing and social cohesion. They were also anxious to make sure that they could recognise fresh emerging signs of the problem bubbling up again, and the local authority expressed enthusiasm about the faith communities’ offer to be eyes and ears, offering training to support this. In some very small way, it’s possible that faith communities made a contribution to that transformation as part of the wider prevention partnership.
Sadly however Rotherham is not the only place where CSE has occurred, but that also means that we in London can play our part in achieving transformation for our communities if we are alert to what is going on in, recognise what we see and respond well. This is why our conference on March 10th is so important as we will be focussing on those new areas of abuse, such as CSE, that feature in our new national policy and training materials.
Our faith is about transforming our own and hopefully other peoples’ lives as well. So if we can play our part, however small, by using our safeguarding knowledge and experience, we can help transform the communities we serve.