You are here to defend the defenceless, to make sure that the underdog gets a fair break; Your job is to stand up for the powerless, and prosecute all those who exploit them Psalm 82 v 3 – 4 (The Message)
We believe that safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility and that it is underpinned by scripture as a command to “love one another as I have loved you”.
We consider this commandment places a responsibility on church communities to act positively to safeguard the welfare of all those who may be vulnerable within the church community, by providing a welcoming environment, safe and free from harm. God calls the church in particular to safeguard those who have little power and who cannot easily protect themselves. We highlight that a loving environment is not one where there is no conflict, and where nothing is challenged. Jesus was himself challenging of injustice
Safeguarding means having a culture of vigilance where everyone knows their responsibilities, and acts accordingly, and everyone is aware of what they can expect and what to do if they have concerns. It is preventative rather than reactive. Part of prevention is showing your commitment to safeguarding. It is therefore useful to have a poster setting out your safeguarding principles Statement of safeguarding principles
Please see the safeguarding amendment to the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). More information will be posted as soon as the guidance is issued Safeguarding Amendment GDPR
The Charity Commission issued an alert reminding everyone of their duties as Trustees. This is a summary of the alert regulatory alert
For an overall guide to Elders responsibilities, legislation and synod policy please download Safeguarding-A-Guide-to-Elders-responsibilities-legislation-and-Synod-Policy
It is the policy of the United Reformed Church, and a requirement of the Charity Commission, that all churches should have in place a safeguarding children and vulnerable adult’s policy. A model policy can be found on the Creating a Safeguarding Policy page.
All churches should have a safeguarding co-ordinator for children and vulnerable adults. These can be the same person, if they have the necessary skills, or different people. It is also advisable to have a deputy. If there is no one suitable in any given church it is possible for churches to share a co-ordinator, with agreement of the person and the churches of course. This is a useful role description The Role of a church safeguarding Co-ordinator for a safeguarding co-ordinator. This is the Person-Spec-Church-Safeguarding-Co-ordinator
It is good practice to have a poster to advertise the details of who should be contacted to discuss safeguarding issues so that children and vulnerable adults can contact that person without necessarily having to ask anyone else. Poster-re-who-to-contact
What to do if a child discloses abuse is a helpful guide in the event that a child wishes to speak to the Church safeguarding co-ordinator, or indeed anyone in the Church.
It is our policy, and a requirement of the charity commission, that volunteers and paid staff should be selected/recruited by undertaking a thorough process, which includes criminal records checks from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) but does not depend solely on such checks. Details of this process, and useful forms, can be found on the Safer Recruitment and Selection page.
DBS checks are now only sent to the individual, not to any organisation. It is essential that any church appointing a paid member of staff, or volunteer, sees the original copy of the DBS check. If there is any record of criminal activity the Synod Safeguarding Officer should be contacted, who can assist with any risk assessment.
Should you have concerns about a volunteer, or paid member of staff, it may be necessary to refer these concerns to the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) and possibly to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). It may also require notification to the Charity Commission. There is a criteria that needs to be met so please contact the Synod Safeguarding Officer if any situation arises. This applies to lay and ordained ministry and will potentially apply even if the person about whom you are concerned resigns.
In order to act in a preventative way it is important to have standards of good practice. Information about these, and some useful forms, can be found on the Standards of Good Practice page.
If someone comes to your church and informs you that they have been convicted of violent or sexual offences against children or adults you should contact the Synod Safeguarding Officer who will support you in implementing a contract with the offender and risk assess whether yours is the right church for them to attend. This will often be done in co-operation with statutory agencies such as Police and Probation who will be able to inform us of any special licence conditions.
Please see links below for further information
- Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA)
- Adults at Risk
- Safeguarding Training
- Safer Recruitment and Selection
- Creating a Safeguarding Policy
- Standards of Good Practice
If you have any concerns about issues of safeguarding either children or vulnerable adults do not hesitate to contact the Synod Safeguarding Officer, Jan Murphy (07875454064) who will be able to support and advise you. or by E Mail SafeguardingOfficer@urcsouthwest.org.uk
Jan is also the Chair of the South West Ecumenical Safeguarding Forum (SWESF). The Vice Chair is Annette Moody-Burkinshaw, Catholic Safeguarding Officer. SWESF is an ecumenical group of Safeguarding Officers across the South West region who meet 4 times a year. Members currently consist of URC, Methodist, Anglican, Catholic, Salvation Army and Baptist safeguarding Officers/Advisors