What else? Football’s coming home

Football’s coming home, it’s coming home to South London’s Number One in SE25. The third match after restart will be the home match against Burnley, by which time we will have played Liverpool away. That’s another story and as a football correspondent has just written ’a bit of a challenge’.

Regular readers will know that I will have been concerned about the safeguarding steward and how he (it’s always been a he to date) has been experiencing the lockdown, and now how he is preparing for future home games. For him, the lack of a home crowd to look out for will be his frustration. And then what will be his role in the brave new world of socially distanced spectating?

I see him as the custodian of the sacred 2 metre ruler, preferably one of those old fashioned wooden ones with metal joints so that the key measurement can be adjusted as government policy dictates. He would be able to undertake checks on fans sitting too close by placing the ruler between their shoulders. This too will be a challenge as the seats are no more than two feet wide, if that.

So as we work out what’s now OK and still not OK, what’s the role of the local church safeguarding officer? Their core business is still about organising and recording training, making sure that safe recruitment policies are maintained and giving basic advice if something comes up. But what about advising on social distancing and safe practice in the Sunday school or how pastoral visits are arranged? Safe Zoom practice and hand sanitisers? Shall we sing? What about distribution of the elements? PPE for cleaners?

It’s clear that no one person has the monopoly of wisdom here, and so the emphasis should be on church teamwork so that the safeguarding officer can make their contribution and neither feel side-lined nor overwhelmed. Various parts of the Connexion have produced guidance relating to their areas of expertise and these are readily available on the Methodist Church website. Safeguarders do have an important role to play and it may evolve as our church life experience adapts to future challenges. But for the moment having a seat at the table where the decisions are made is the best place to be, offering insight and maybe raising one or two of those tricky ‘yes, but…’ questions

I’d suggest that the ruler stays folded in your pocket, but keep it handy.

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