Links between the Church and police, voluntary sector and children and adult social care agencies were explored and strengthened at Bishopthorpe Palace at a Diocese of York Safeguarding Partnership Day on the 5th September, at the invitation of Archbishop Sentamu.

Representatives from parishes across the Diocese (and York Minster) met with our partners to explore how we can work together more effectively to make the church a safer place for all.

Keynote speaker Sarah Henry, an independent Safeguarding and Wellbeing Trainer and herself an adult survivor of child sexual abuse in a faith setting, reminded delegates why it is so important that we respond well to disclosure and work together to keep our children and vulnerable adults safe.

“The world stopped turning that day... I wondered if I'd imagined it all.”

Her story was a timely reminder that the assault itself was only the beginning of a very long ordeal: “The trial [of the abuser] was just as traumatic for me as the abuse.”

York Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser Julie O’Hara outlined the recent submissions made the by the Diocese to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), having been selected as one of four dioceses in which selected cases would come under in-depth scrutiny.

IICSA’s assessor had reported that the Diocese of York had been consistently high-performing in its responses to recent safeguarding incidents and concerns, she said.

Feedback from the day confirmed its success, with calls from parishes and partners to provide more opportunities for shared learning:

“This has been an excellent day. A number of ‘myths’ have evaporated simply through mutual listening.”

“An excellent vehicle for building trust, knowledge and understanding between church and other agencies.”

“Invaluable to meet and speak with others from other areas and sharing and learning of good practice. Thank you. A great day. Where did the time go?”

Following intensive multi-agency round-the-table discussion of a number of fictitious but realistic case studies, participants were asked to take back learning to their parishes and organisations to build on shared understanding of safeguarding in the Church.

Several partners renewed a commitment to working together on a number of safeguarding themes in the year ahead.