A Churchwarden in the Diocese of York reflects on Safeguarding training

Two weeks ago I was aware of Safeguarding, understood the importance of training and knew that it needed to be implemented in our parish. So, what has changed? I was the small voice on the PCC, The Warden, the person who will tackle any job with guidance but felt that it was not my place to insist on any matter. In other words, the follower, the small voice.

Oh! how things have changed! I now realise that I have THE VOICE! I am aware, I am diligent, I am enquiring, I am observant and I am the VOICE. I am the listener who can identify a need, a problem, a nightmare… and know where to go and who to see.

Strange though, for the past six years I have brought up the subject of safeguarding, listened to the excuses and watched the subject on the agenda – nothing happening here, no safeguarding officer and empty promises to look into asking someone or other. Now I have made it my business to get things done and even with no Safeguarding Officer in post, we are on the move with help from another parish within our benefice.

I’ve read the House of Bishops’ report - I found it lengthy and difficult to remember the content but am now aware of it and can refer to it. I wish I had bought the book rather than reading it online. Watching the 3-hour film was possibly one of the most difficult viewing experiences with so many heart wrenching, tear jerking moments. Being able to listen to the stories of real survivors was very helpful. It is always difficult to “get into the moment of another person’s journey”. I travelled along with those abusers and realised why we were advised not to watch before bed time.

I was glad that we discussed the case study in depth and felt happier knowing that I had reached the same conclusions of others on the training.

I was struck by the way those in power believed the person who was wearing a collar or badge. To protect one’s establishment over a person’s life seems to me difficult to accept. Since the Garden of Eden, humanity has been capable of lies, deceit and sexual misconduct – surely the Bishops should have realised that! However, not to focus on that alone (knowing that abuse comes in many forms and is often hidden), even the nicest person is capable of inflicting misery and hurt and the victim needs to be taken seriously and listened to.

As a Christian with strong belief and faith, I know that I can call upon God for guidance but I am still the VOICE and it is my duty to protect from harm and seek help and guidance from those who are qualified to act - the DSA, the Police and Social Services, to ensure Safeguarding.

I realise that Safeguarding is an everyday process, not just a training session and a tick box. I realise that it is important to get everyone on board with it and ensure that our church is a safe church. This can only happen with good relationships. We are creating a safe environment for everyone!

I have now:

And last but not least… considered my own safety and wellbeing in a community where I am the safeguarding ‘go to person’.

May 2022

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