Thinking Anglicans

The Wilkinson Files

Sarah Wilkinson’s report into the Church of England’s Independent Safeguarding Board (ISB) was published in December. A debate on Safeguarding Independence (GS 2336) is scheduled to take place on Saturday 24 February at General Synod.

In advance of this debate six short documentary-style films (“The Wilkinson Files”) which highlight the key findings of Dr Wilkinson’s Report are being released by two Synod members. They explain these findings while displaying their precise location within the report. Each film is between 8 and about 15 minutes in duration.

The films are being released daily. So far two are available, but links are available for all six.

The films are presented by Martin Sewell and Clive Billenness, both Members of the House of Laity of the General Synod and both very active in matters relating to Safeguarding. Martin is a retired solicitor specialising in Child Protection. Clive is a Certified Auditor who is still in pracce and is also an elected member of the Audit Commiee of the Archbishops’ Council.

Clive said “When the Wilkinson Report is considered at the forthcoming meeting of the General Synod, speakers will probably only have 2 or 3 minutes each to speak about it. The Report itself reflects the legal background of its author and is packed with painstaking detail. We wanted to help Synod members to be as fully-informed as possible before Synod considers this. We have approached this like a forensic examinaon and have only included in the films any information contained in Dr Wilkinson’s Report, information of which she was aware or information in the Public Domain at the time she wrote her report.

“We have not invited anyone else to comment in our films or to appear on them in the interests of strict imparality. We leave it instead to our viewers to draw their own conclusions about how these sad events came to pass and how we can avoid a repetition. Dr Wilkinson’s report makes it clear that some fundamental changes are needed to the way the Church of England and the Archbishops’ Council conducts itself when dealing with Safeguarding.”

The films detail how the ISB was created, how it struggled to achieve the proper independence which abuse survivors and others expected, how it was closed down, followed by an detailed examinaon of the failures in governance which Dr Wilkinson highlights, a summary of the voices of the survivors who spoke to her and, finally, a short analysis of the “Magic Moments” where serious mistakes occurred which led to the failure and closure of the ISB.

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Kate Keates
Kate Keates
1 month ago

The first 2 minutes of each episode is poor but thereafter the episodes are very, very good. Thoroughly recommended.

David Lamming
David Lamming
Reply to  Kate Keates
1 month ago

Agreed, Kate: the Opening Credits are too long – and unnecessarily so – and the moving background is irritating, but you can skip the credits and go straight to the Introduction. I understand that members of the Houses of Clergy and Laity are to be e-mailed, providing them with links to the videos. Let’s hope that they will all watch them before the debate next Saturday on the Wilkinson Report (Jay is still not yet published). At least the motion (to be proposed by the Bishop of Stepney – the lead safeguarding bishop) is a substantive motion (i.e. not just… Read more »

Susan Hunt
Susan Hunt
1 month ago

An imaginative and exciting way to present information and save you further laborious reading. The excellence in the production of the video adds to its accessibility.

In the time it takes to have a break and a cup of coffee, in six, daily ten minute episodes you will understand the Wilkinson Files.

Susanna (no ‘h’)
Susanna (no ‘h’)
1 month ago

Looking forward to episode 3…. It’s an amazing achievement so far ( I ploughed through the report before Christmas and it is not light reading)
As a retired safeguarding professional, my only question would be is there too big an assumption that all synod members will be up to speed on the need for ‘proper independence’ as mentioned in the paragraph above, and how unusual the current C of E model of ‘marking own homework’ is?

Graham Holmes
Graham Holmes
1 month ago

I have thought for some time that General Synod was badly served by the Hierarchy stealing time from their deliberations by streams of presentations, panels and the like. Such sharing of information could and should be achieved far more effectively and professionally by u tube videos distributed far in advance of the Synod sessions. The only rational I can come up with is that it is one of the great armoury of processes and procedures that are used to make GS impotent in carrying out its functions of Oversight, etc, about which Mr Sewell knows far more than me. So… Read more »

Martin Sewell
Martin Sewell
Reply to  Graham Holmes
1 month ago

I am not in the least offended- you are absolutely right that poor governance, incompetence and misplaced self confidence is at the heart of the CofE failures. This is why I have called a meeting of the House of Laity to begin this parallel but complementary discussion. A Synod colleague has borrowed a phrase from the Post Office drama to characterise our response on so many issues. It is time for the “ skint little people” to speak up. More elegantly we need to build “ the Humble Church” in place of the privileged arrogant institution we see failing on… Read more »

David G
David G
1 month ago

The videos are excellent, and highlight the failure, coverups, incompetence and corruption in safeguarding. In fact, as these comments highlight already, this is also about how GS is run by the senior executive on the GS podium, and replicated across diocesan synods. It’s a barrage of presentations – which are little more than glossy useless pap – in order to stop debate, dissent and democratic discussion ever get off the ground. Yes, we badly need ‘The Humble Church’ to be reborn. No chance of this with present cadre of leaders and their senior execs.

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
1 month ago

Could I please ask for a bit of feedback from the Thinking Anglican collective wisdom about the design of these YouTube videos. I am working on some teaching material myself using YouTube and I am faced with a question. If you have a complex issue to explore, is it best to break up the issue into a series of short videos, as here, on the principle that people’s attention spans are short or that they are time constrained? Or is it better to create a longer, more structured, video and trust people to work through it? (One can always signpost… Read more »

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Simon Dawson
1 month ago

I can only speak for myself but I consume YouTube differently than other content. Anything upto ten minutes I tend to watch and listen too. Anything longer than that I either leave it on as background while I do other things or fast forward / skip to edit it down to ten minutes myself.

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  Simon Dawson
1 month ago

Hullo Simon. I watch a variety of material on youtube and, like Kate am very choosy about their material. Of the sensible stuff (railways, exploration and some historical material) ten to fifteen minutes is about average – occasionally twenty five minutes if it’s a really good, professional film that interests me. Certain posters I’ve learned not to bother with – usually because their presentation is poorly done in some way (or I’ve realised they have ulterior agendas, overheated imaginations or are just plain liars). When I trained as a teacher I was told that people only retain a very small… Read more »

Susan Hunt
Susan Hunt
Reply to  John Davies
1 month ago

Simon, I agree with the sentiments of Kate and John. The Wilkinson Review has many facts and detail so six short episodes is an ideal way to convey this information.

The strength is in each episode being uploaded each day. Each part can be understood before moving on to the next one the following day. If you are in danger of ‘ losing the thread of the overall argument’, you can always watch them consecutively at the end of the six days.

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Susan Hunt
1 month ago

Thank you Kate, John and Susan.

Your comments were helpful.

David Hawkins
David Hawkins
1 month ago

I have had to complain about two serious incidents of emotional abuse by Church of England clerics and the response from two different dioceses follow a pattern. First I am offered “deepest sympathy” and assigned an “expert” to provide counseling. But despite assurances that my complaints are being “seriously” addressed subsequently nothing happens. I can’t imagine how terrible it would feel if you were sexually abused and my abuse is minor in comparison but never the less both incidents of abuse drove me into clinical depression for a prolonged period. In both cases the formulaic response of the Diocese seemed… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by David Hawkins
Susanna ( no ‘h’)
Susanna ( no ‘h’)
Reply to  David Hawkins
1 month ago

David, The current situation must be bringing it all back yet again .
I can only hope you have people around you supporting you

David Hawkins
David Hawkins
Reply to  Susanna ( no ‘h’)
1 month ago

Friends support me but I really need the support of a priest. But in effect I have been excommunicated and the one priest I do trust has been forbidden to talk to me. Since I live in Berlin I have no other options. The Bishop in Europe seems unwilling to intervene. A friend wrote “The Church of England is not slouching towards Bethlehem but slouching towards the same fate as too many a Protestant church before it which failed to keep a solid grip on doctrine.” I would add that England’s National Church has failed to keep a solid grip… Read more »

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  David Hawkins
1 month ago

I don’t know your circumstances but have you thought about trying a local Catholic church? Like the Church of England they vary from being very accepting to dogmatic but it might be worth trying a few. Personally I would start with one which caters to a lot of students.

Last edited 1 month ago by Kate Keates
Trish
Trish
1 month ago

For anyone who has not received the update the Jay report is being published tomorrow and will be available to view on the Future of Church Safeguarding website.

David Lamming
David Lamming
Reply to  Trish
1 month ago

I understand that the Jay report will be published on the futureofchurchsafeguarding website just after midnight tonight, Tuesday 20 February, and that there is likely to be extensive coverage in the morning’s daily newspapers. A reminder, too, that the Questions Notice Paper, with the written answers to the questions submitted by Synod members, ahead of the first ‘Questions’ session at General Synod on Friday evening, should be published on the C of E website at some time tomorrow, Wednesday. I understand that a total of 233 questions were submitted, so not all of them may be reached for supplementaries in… Read more »

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