23rd November 2022
I have just been told by the Diocesan Office in London that I am due to renew my Safeguarding Training to work with vulnerable adults and children. It’s easy to be sniffy about being required to do regular training. As I will be 75 next year I’m probably categorised as a vulnerable adult myself! So now I have booked myself on to a two day Zoom course in January.
The recently released figures of child abuse perpetrated in our churches and by clergy of all denominations are horrendous……we’re talking in thousands not hundreds….and something has to be done and fast. For too long the powers that be have been more concerned with maintaining the reputation of the church than caring for the victims themselves. To coin a phrase “dead cats have been thrown over walls” and the word “coverup” has been the currency of those who should know better.
Last Sunday, 20th November, was Safeguarding Sunday, and churches all around the world were encouraged to acknowledge it in some form or other. But why should we care, after all we are a happy bunch of people, nothing bad could happen here! Think back to the “Good Old Days” everyone harks on about, they weren’t so good for all were they? We now know awful things happened to vulnerable children and adults in many places and were hidden and covered up. The institution was more important than the individuals harmed, sometimes for ever.
Safeguarding in relation to the church is all about making our churches safe places for all to attend. As a church we care for one another and the wider community and it is up to all of us to play our part in ensuring that all are safe.
We all understand the need for children to be protected from all types of harm, predators, groomers, cruelty or misinformation, the list is endless. But who is a vulnerable adult? There are times in our lives when we are all vulnerable to being taken advantage of: financially, physically, mentally or through on-line scammers. Just think about it.
So what are we doing centrally in the Church of England, the Diocese in Europe and in this chaplaincy on Tenerife? We are promoting a safer church, the “Church of England’s Safeguarding Policy”. Practically that means all church leaders and people engaged in various roles within the church have to undergo safeguarding training. This ensures that we are aware of safeguarding issues and how to deal with them. Some of those in main leadership roles also have to obtain Police clearance. However safeguarding is everyone´s responsibility. We have policies and training but the key thing is to put those into action. The noticeboard at the back of church displays the parish safeguarding agreement and we ensure safeguarding is on every council agenda.
If you have any concerns or worries relating to safeguarding, speak to Judith or any council member. Never let it be said, we didn’t care or couldn’t be bothered to help those in need.
Fr Robert Ellis