Our Chaplaincy Safeguarding Officer, Carolyn Guler, gave a talk at our 10.30 service yesterday and we are reproducing it here, along with the links to the on-line training that Carolyn spoke about.
Whoever dreamed up the term “safeguarding” has a lot to answer for, as unfortunately it’s often regarded as something negative. In fact, although much maligned, the term “safeguarding” denotes measures put in place to protect the health, well-being and human rights of individuals, with the objective of allowing everyone, but especially children, young people and vulnerable adults to live free from abuse, harm and neglect.
At St. Andrew’s we follow a strict safeguarding policy which is laid down by the Diocese in Europe, and as Chaplaincy Safeguarding Officer it’s my responsibility to ensure that we adhere to this policy. The Diocese has strict rules on training, so a large part of my job is making sure that all our volunteers complete the obligatory safeguarding training and that this training is regularly refreshed.
At present there are approx. 50 volunteers (ca. one third of our church members) some of whom are only required to complete one or more online safeguarding awareness courses while others eg. Churchwardens, Clergy, Music Director, Junior Church and Youth Group leaders and Chaplaincy Safeguarding Officers are required to undergo a complete safeguarding vetting check.
But the Archbishop of Canterbury recently said:
“Safeguarding is actually a culture of awareness which should involve the whole Church community, not just those individuals who volunteer.”The Most Reverend Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury
And it’s that awareness which is one of the key aspects of safeguarding. The awareness of the many different types of abuse, the awareness of the dangers from potential abusers, the awareness that someone might need need help and the awareness of how to react correctly if you are asked for help.
In our congregation at St. Andrew’s, we have people who have, at some time, experienced abusive or coercive relationships, financial intimidation, teenage grooming, bullying and many other forms of abuse. As I wrote in my recent article in Search, these people don’t have flashing neon lights over their heads to identify them. Nor is it something they are likely to mention at coffeetime. To admit to someone that you are being abused takes an enormous amount of courage. We need to be open and receptive to those both within our community or visiting our church who might need our help.
But being a welcoming and open church means we are not immune from potential abusers hoping to ingratiate themselves to the more vulnerable members of our community. We have had incidents at St. Andrew’s, most of which have been brought to my notice by members of the congregation who have completed the safeguarding awareness courses and were therefore aware of the potential dangers and knew how to react correctly.
That is why, on this Safeguarding Sunday, I am hoping to encourage as many of you as possible to complete one or more of the safeguarding courses issued by the Diocese (see link below). These courses are at present only available on-line but from 2023 I am hoping to be able to offer them as group courses in the community centre, so watch out for an invitation!
Next Saturday is our annual church bazaar when we all work together with a wonderful sense of unity to raise money for the church. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could call on that same enthusiasm and feeling of unity towards the awareness of safeguarding?
And just to finish – I took part in the Diocesan Safeguarding Officers’ Conference yesterday where one of the speakers said,
“Live for one another,Revd Canon Dr Leslie Nathaniel, Archdeacon of Germany, Northern and Eastern Europe
Support one another,
Love one another,
Then there is no place for abuse”
Let us all as one united community make the effort to ensure that St. Andrew’s is the safe and welcoming place we all want it to be. The responsibility of safeguarding in our Church is not just the responsibility of a few but a responsibility shared by us all.
Chaplaincy Safeguarding Officer
Link to the on-line Safeguarding courses: https://safeguardingtraining.cofeportal.org/
1. “Basic Safeguarding Awareness”
2. “Safeguarding Foundations”
3. “Raising Awareness of Domestic Abuse”
When you register you will need to open a new account. Please choose “Not part of a Training Institution” and “Europe” as the Diocese. If you would like to be registered as having completed the courses, please send a copy of your certificates to: firstname.lastname@example.org