Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 26 February 2022

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love The Ghana “Anti-Gay” Bill hearings continue with a presentation from IDNOWA

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“Hugh Williamson meets ministers whose places of secular work are their mission fields”

Josephine Stein Surviving Church Safeguarding: Value for Money?

Valerie Plumb ViaMedia.News Profile: Burn Out, Exclusion and the Church of England

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Susannah Clark
3 months ago

I’d like to thank Val for a deeply moving and instructive article. Val, I hope you stay safe, and I hope we can learn from what you’ve shared with us. There are all kinds of ways in which different groups of people can be ‘left behind’. People with immunity problems certainly suffer greater vulnerability and limitations, with their new dependency on other people’s “personal responsibility”. That makes them about as safe as the first person on a train who chooses not to wear their mask or take the vaccine… which is to say, not safe at all. While the majority… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
2 months ago

Josephine Stein writes: ‘based on my experience as research director for an evaluation of a 25-country European programme with structural similarities to the CofE, I would expect that savings of at least half of current expenditure could be achieved if the Church’s safeguarding structures and activities were to be rationalized. Some of the money saved could be redirected towards achieving the verified objectives identified by the evaluators as insufficiently resourced.’

This needs to be raised at General Synod and Archbishops’ Council.

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Janet Fife
2 months ago

Does anyone really understand what Stein is saying behind all that corporatist mumbo-jumbo?

Simon Sarmiento
Reply to  Pat ONeill
2 months ago

It all sounded perfectly clear and straightforward to me 🙂

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Simon Sarmiento
2 months ago

Then what is meant by “rationalizing” safeguarding structures and activities? Are the current ones not “rational”?

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Pat ONeill
2 months ago

No, they aren’t. My ‘Safeguarding Glossary’ shows that there are duplications and that there is no clear explanation for what some bodies do. This was written two years ago and some things have changed, but as far as I can see they’ve got worse rather than better. http://survivingchurch.org/2020/12/15/alphabet-soup-a-glossary-of-safeguarding/

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Simon Sarmiento
2 months ago

It sounded very straightforward to me too.

rhedeg
rhedeg
Reply to  Janet Fife
2 months ago

As far as I can see Josephine Stein is not a safeguarding specialist. Safeguarding is not perfect. It is very time consuming and labour intensive to ‘react’ to concerns. Perhaps the key issue is future prevention and the key areas are selection and training of clergy with a strong emphasis on the dynamics of power. Good quality assessments of students in placement, and strong supervision post qualification would also be key components of ensuring a Safer Church.

Harry
Harry
Reply to  rhedeg
2 months ago

Well, yes. I’m afraid my jaw dropped when I read her equating safeguarding in a church setting to aviation safety. While the main thing that helped with the latter was ensuring that anyone could blow the whistle and be listened to, mechanical safety or even human adherence to checklists is easy to see, obvious when it goes wrong, and can quickly be corrected. Safeguarding in the church is about people and relationships. They’re not so easily fixed. Some cases are very clear cut, but most aren’t and involve huge amounts of safeguarding officer and/or senior clergy time to sort out,… Read more »

Francis James
Francis James
Reply to  Harry
2 months ago

If you had spent any time on a carrier during night time launch and recovery cycle you would know that flight safety is all about people. Transparency and admitting failure saves lives .

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  rhedeg
2 months ago

Are you suggesting that we shouldn’t investigate allegations or concerns about our safeguarding systems? Or that we shouldn’t attempt to help those who have been abused within and by the Church, and for whom we are responsible?

rhedeg
rhedeg
Reply to  Janet Fife
2 months ago

Not at all Janet I was just suggesting that it is more complicated and time consuming than it appears I think Harry puts it better than me. Having survived 44 years in safeguarding practice and management, everybody outside a safeguarding system thinks they can do it better and few are satisfied with the outcome. Sadly reaction rather than prevention rules the agenda but I was trying to suggest that a few preventative steps would prevent a great deal of pain.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  rhedeg
2 months ago

Prevention in part involves identifying past and present offenders, as you know. But the NST admits its job is not to investigate and ascertain the facts. If that is not done when an allegation or complaint is made, how do they know whether the respondent is a safeguarding risk? And if they don’t know, how do they prevent further offences? In addition, they will only take action against clergy who have a licence or PTO. So they may know a priest is an offender, but keep that information quiet. This happened in my own case, and it’s happened to other… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  rhedeg
2 months ago

A primary reason for the elevated expenditure is the duplication and lack of economies of scale. There is the NST, and then there are all the diocesan safeguarding teams. The NST and the diocesan safeguarding teams strike me as being cogs which spin independently, inefficiently and ineffectually of each other. The diocesan safeguarding teams exist to support the doctrine (a doctrine supported by everything but common sense) that the bishops maintain their autonomy, discretion and – above all – power over all aspects of discipline. This is despite their repeated and egregious failures. I am sure that diocesan safeguarding officers… Read more »

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
Reply to  Froghole
2 months ago

Indeed. My own diocesan safeguarding team has prepared a report to diocesan synod absolutely full of incomprehensible jargon, and a whole list of bureaucratic processes to be completed. It mentions the fear that they may lack the capacity to fulfill all these tasks, which I presume is a veiled plea for more money and more staff. But as more staff keep churning out more paper and the diminishing number of clergy spend more time attending yet more safeguarding training, who exactly is being protected from what?

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Fr Dexter Bracey
2 months ago

Many thanks, as ever. ‘…who exactly is being protected from what?’ The officials are being protected from unemployment. The first obligation of any official is to multiply subordinates, who then make work for each other, and thus need additional support and higher budgets. The welfare of victims and of the wider Church is a secondary consideration to the pay and rations of officials. Same with any government department and the farmers, doctors or teachers it supposedly administers. I was reminded of this principle very forcibly many years ago when working on the insolvency of a company. The insolvency practitioner (liquidator),… Read more »

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Fr Dexter Bracey
2 months ago

As I have said before, I wonder how many retired clergy have decided not to renew their PTO’s after considering the amount of time needed to fulfil the safeguarding requirements?

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Perry Butler
2 months ago

I suppose the crunch will come in the next couple of years when those of us who were granted PTO just before the safeguarding requirements “blossomed” (or exploded) need to renew. I shall not. It is something that might interest the retired clergy association, but I have yet to discover what that organisation is for.

Ian Hobbs
Ian Hobbs
Reply to  Perry Butler
2 months ago

It really doesn’t take very long…. If a tad frustratingly simple at times….

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
Reply to  Ian Hobbs
2 months ago

The new regime is going to be more complex for everybody. Lots of new acronyms to learn. Lots of new forms to complete.

John Barton
John Barton
Reply to  Ian Hobbs
2 months ago

Really? It took me 12 hours, mainly online. Some of it was futile.

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  John Barton
2 months ago

Anecdotal evidence suggests the Safeguarding requirements for those applying for a PTO differ between different dioceses.

Harry
Harry
Reply to  Ian Hobbs
2 months ago

Quite. As far as I’m aware the safeguarding requirements for holding PTO haven’t changed for at least the last 5 years and involve doing a DBS check and one set of safeguarding training every three years. That doesn’t seem too onerous to me. Or perhaps we should go back to the old days when bishops just gave PTOs to those they reckoned looked ok?

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
Reply to  Harry
2 months ago

It’s all changing from this year. There are new “learning pathways” intended to bring about a “paradigm shift”. There’s going to be a lot more stuff for everyone to wade through. The safeguarding team in this diocese acknowledge that they have “received feedback raising concern that the work required for the Leadership pathway is disproportionate to the level of responsibilities PTOs can have.” They nonetheless conclude that PTOs still have to do it.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Perry Butler
2 months ago

I didn’t renew my PTO several years ago when doing so would have required not only 2 units of online training (I’d have done that willingly), but also a morning’s course in Middlesbrough. I couldn’t travel from Whitby to MIddlesbrough so that was that.

Nicholas Elder
Nicholas Elder
2 months ago

Church of England exceptionalism has meant that it has refused to submit to an outside organisation i.e. the NSPCC taking on an independent role in dealing with safeguarding matters nationally. Hence the muddled and overlapping responsibilities.
The ‘new’ national Safeguarding module is so focussed on Incumbents that it makes it a Procrustean exercise for assistant clergy, those with PTO, and Churchwardens. (And possible others)

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