We had an outbreak of what’s been described as ‘vaccine nationalism’ last weekend. Although the immediate matter between the UK and the EU was resolved fairly quickly, the issues at stake here will no doubt rumble on as the vaccination programmes of nations across the world roll out.
Accessing a precious and scarce commodity, where there is competition between countries or individuals, has always been a concern, especially where that commodity is vital to life. At times we have heard about the possibility of ‘water wars’ when one country diverts or stems the flow of an essential river system. The bible supplies examples of how people sought out emergency supplies of food from a neighbouring country in a time of famine. More prosaically, our first lockdown saw competition for toilet paper.
Safeguarding, as a process, is not necessarily in short supply in the Methodist Church, and I’m not sure that I’ve heard of competition between circuits and districts to secure more resources in response to a specific set of circumstances. We have sound policies, well developed training programmes, and a growing professional network of District Safeguarding Officers. But the need for the process of safeguarding to keep healthy, through having enough local and engaged volunteers, is critically important. The pandemic has not reduced the incidence of safeguarding concerns, just changed their immediate appearance, and we will need to be ready for new challenges ahead.
One new years’ resolution that many will have made is to undertake some voluntary work. Could this be the year when you look around your church and see that the safeguarding officer could do with some support? Or maybe with your knowledge of the digital world you could be the church online safety champion? Whatever you think you could offer, don’t be shy in coming forward.
Your time is a precious and valuable commodity. Safeguarding, in all its forms, would welcome a little bit of it!