It’s early July and I guess we should be thinking about joining Cliff Richard as we all go on our summer holiday. But having now heard from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) about the advance information they require of the Church, by the end of August, the prospect for the Connexional Safeguarding Team of a quiet summer with a chance to catch up or take some down time, is receding fast! Our hearing date will be in March 2020 but before that, the inquiry wants to know how we, along with other faith groups, have dealt with all cases of child sexual abuse coming to our attention over the last ten years.
The data and case records collected through our Past Cases Review should help here, but it will still be a lengthy process to provide the comprehensive summary describing our responses as expected by the IICSA.
In addition we shall have to provide evidence about our safe recruitment processes and how effective they are, as well the take up and impact of our training programmes. We have also been asked to provide a description of our organisational culture relative to safeguarding children. An analysis of our organisational culture will provide a real barometer of how seriously we as a Church take our safeguarding responsibilities. We already know that some people see safeguarding as a chore and so our sustained approach must be to strive to assert the joy, privilege and opportunity to demonstrate our mission that safeguarding can provide.
The message to our Church is that IICSA are serious about understanding how well we have dealt with past concerns and going forward, how we are aiming to ensure the future safety of all children who are linked with us. Their public statements about us in due course will impact on our reputation and how people in our communities see us. It is vital we show the inquiry something of the journey we have travelled over the last decade, but they will want to know that as a church we are all heading in the same direction.
But the summer is still a great time to take time out whenever we can, ‘going where the sun shines brightly’. Despite our initial collective groan when we saw the task ahead, this does in fact give us the opportunity to show our Church in the best possible light.