Thinking Anglicans

Update on Safe Spaces following media report

The Church of England issued the press release below today. It appears to be in response to an article in Private Eye which was tweeted here yesterday.

Update on Safe Spaces following media report
21/12/2019

A spokesperson for the National Safeguarding Team said: “Safe Spaces is planned as a vital support service for survivors of church-related abuse across the Church of England and the Catholic Church in England and Wales.

“The delay in progressing the support service, first officially discussed in 2014, is a matter of regret which the Church of England acknowledges and apologises for. But since the appointment of a project manager and the creation of the Safe Spaces Management Board last year eight survivor representatives from across both Churches are involved in ensuring we find the right organisation to deliver the project.

“Their knowledge, skill and personal experience in shaping the model for Safe Spaces alongside their commitment and support for the procurement process is integral to finding the right organisation to deliver the project.

“All grant money from both churches and ATL has been ring fenced for the project and no money from the £592,000 grant has been spent to date, and no new company has been set up. Pre set-up costs, procurement, project management and development are separate to this and the cost is being shared across both Churches.

“Following an initial procurement process, the Board has agreed that it would not be recommending the appointment of a preferred supplier to deliver the project; this decision was taken in partnership with the survivor representatives.

“Over the coming weeks the Board in partnership with survivors will agree the next steps and the best way forward. Survivor voices remain central to any future success of this new service and their welfare and support is an absolute priority for the Church in its continuing safeguarding work.

“Both churches are committed to supporting survivors of church-related abuse and providing an independent national service for survivors of any form of church-related abuse.”

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Janet Fife
Janet Fife
5 months ago

‘since the appointment of a project manager and the creation of the Safe Spaces Management Board last year eight survivor representatives from across both Churches are involved in ensuring we find the right organisation to deliver the project.’ I’m glad they are involving survivors in this, although I suspect they aren’t asking some who have been most vocal. I’m sure Matt Ineson would have something to say – and until the Church is ready to hear him, and Gilo, and “Graham’, and others, it won’t get very far. But as the project manager and board were appointed ‘last year’ –… Read more »

Martin Sewell
Martin Sewell
5 months ago

The Church seems to have lost the plot on this. One cannot hear of the delay and the associated costs without a rising sense of anger. Questions must be asked and more importantly – answered. This is not said in a vindictive sense but simply to seek an answer to the plainest of questions. “ How did the main thing cease to be the main thing?” The need was there, the victims known, the resource was available. It ought to have been possible to scope and deliver something for survivors within a year, by any team of competent managers. If… Read more »

Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
5 months ago
Reply to  Martin Sewell

Presumably when she was the Chief Nurse the Bishop of London must have overseen projects far bigger than this one. Why has everyone involved been so inept, had no sense of urgency given their rhetoric on safeguarding. Old school politicians such as Lord Carrington resigned when there were serious failings such as this; why haven’t senior bishops resigned over this pitiful episode? Thank God for Private Eye and a free press!

Stanley Monkhouse
5 months ago

This doesn’t look good. Depressing really. Am I a fool to be surprised at the prevarication, the EIG involvement and the procurement story, especially 2buy2. “They talk of vanity every one with his neighbour: they do but flatter with their lips, and dissemble in their double heart.” Why not let the survivors run the project completely? OK, I know why not.

Kate
Kate
5 months ago

Nowhere in that press release is an acknowledgement that survivors’ urgent needs have not, and in the near future, will not be met. Nowhere in that press release is an indication of emergency action. No, the same group will plod on with no new target date. The disgrace isn’t just the disaster described but the press release itself. And how come the internal/external procurement experts didn’t predict that there would be no acceptable tender? Professionally I have run millions of pounds of procurement. Always, always research the market and determine that there will be at least one suitable tender before… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
5 months ago
Reply to  Kate

Maybe they were all at Pizza Express Woking?

Richard W. Symonds
5 months ago

“A fish stinks from the head down”

Richard W. Symonds
5 months ago

There is a culture of impunity at Church House Westminster – coming from the top down – which is deeply disturbing

Simon Sarmiento
Admin
5 months ago

Here is what was asked, and the answer given only a few weeks ago, to a Question about Safe Spaces https://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/general-synod-questions-3/ Mrs Kat Alldread (Derby) to ask the Chair of the House of Bishops: Q27 At the 2019 York Synod Sir Roger Singleton indicated that tenders for the Safe Spaces Project were being sought with plans for pilot projects being in place “by the end of this year”. Can we please have a brief update as to progress on this long- awaited initiative? The Bishop of London to reply on behalf of the Chair of the House of Bishops: A… Read more »

Richard Scorer
Richard Scorer
5 months ago

Whilst endorsing all the above comments I would add the point which I made on behalf of one of my survivor clients at IICSA in July this year- my client A90 who has had senior roles in business said that the Church of England has a complete lack of project management skills, and in attempting to respond to the abuse crisis they have completely failed to identify any measures of success and then assess success against these yardsticks in the way that successful organisations do. These points are of course borne out by this fiasco . As I said at… Read more »

Andrew Graystone
Andrew Graystone
5 months ago

It is interesting to note that when she answered this question, Bishop Mullally already knew that the procurement process had failed, but chose not to tell synod.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
5 months ago

She ought to be held accountable for that by Synod – but I suspect the ‘system’ will shield her.

Kate
Kate
5 months ago
Reply to  Janet Fife

“Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” Proverbs 28:13

Is it any wonder that the Church of England is declining when bishops ignore the Bible when it is personally convenient to do so? But it is more than just Proverbs. I am reminded of the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1-11 because they tried to deceive the apostles by omission. I think it is clear that the Bishop should resign.

Stanley Monkhouse
5 months ago
Reply to  Kate

BishopS please. Is any diocesan not complicit?

Charles Clapham
Charles Clapham
5 months ago

Job for Safe Spaces Implementation and Contract Manager advertised a month ago at £45-49,000 (pro rata), as detailed at https://pathways.churchofengland.org/job/pathways/1487/safe-spaces-implementation-and-contract-manager.

Not sure if an appointment to this position was made, or whether this is additional to the Project Manager mentioned in the press release as being appointed last year? It would be interesting to know how much has been spent so far, given that nothing seems to have been delivered yet.

Charles Clapham
Charles Clapham
5 months ago

Last year’s “project manager” (which I take it refers to an appointment made at some point in 2018?) is described in both CofE and Catholic sources as being a “dedicated” position. Which suggests full-time (?). Can’t see details of the post on the national CofE safeguarding website, but if it were full time that would presumably suggest at least £50,000 in staff costs over the last 12 months? Anybody able to say more?

Gilo
Gilo
5 months ago

“There is a culture of impunity at Church House Westminster – coming from the top down – which is deeply disturbing” Far more than you might realise. This sense of impunity has shaped the workings of the senior NST management. And led to serial reabuse and malpractice. I think their new Director of Safeguarding, Melissa Caslake, who has been meeting survivors across the past month is just beginning to grasp how bad things have been inside Church House. The complicity of William Nye and the now ex-National Advisor Graham Tilby with the dissembling by Ecclesiastical Insurance around the Elliott Review… Read more »

Kate
Kate
5 months ago
Reply to  Gilo

Organisations can reach the point at which “I will say nothing about your little problem if you say nothing about mine” becomes embedded culture.

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
5 months ago

Many years ago I was given a piece of advice, apropos a dispute a relative was having with the NHS, by a friend who at the time was a senior doctor. Never, I was told, waste time with complaints procedures, patient liaison bodies, counselling, ombudsmen or any other “regulator capture” patsies for the NHS itself, but always proceed immediately and without hesitation to court. Once there, don’t waste time with mediation, but get it to trial. The rest is just window dressing: the NHS couldn’t care less what PALS say, won’t negotiate in good faith, and will lie to pretty… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
5 months ago

My guess is that, just as there is an established system of ‘diplomatic immunity’ which can cover-up all manner of criminal and near-criminal malpractice, there is a system of ‘ecclesiastical immunity’. If that is a reasonably accurate picture of the realpolitik, that would explain the culture of impunity and immunity which has spread like a cancer within Church House and beyond.

Marise Hargreaves
Marise Hargreaves
5 months ago

Once again nothings has been done for survivors, synod has been misled, shady possible deals have been done/not done and everyone plays pass the parcel. What can we actually do to make this happen and force those who have no real desire to do anything to a. deal with those who have covered this up and not actually done what they are supposed to do, and b. what can we do to force this to be done? It’s all very well hand wringing but what can we actually do? It’s no good keep saying these people are immune – they… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
5 months ago

“It’s all very well hand-wringing but what can we actually do?” ~ Marise Hargreaves

That is a very good question.

We can certainly do more than “hand-wringing”, but I’m not sure what effective action can be taken to affect real change and/or to make those responsible accountable.

A first step might be to identify the ‘power systems’ controlling/manipulating the State Church – but even that is fraught with difficulty.

“Who is William Nye’s boss?” is a perfectly simple, legitimate question – but I don’t think the answer to that question is available – or pretty.

Stanley Monkhouse
5 months ago

Asking MP to ask questions? I’ll do this when I’m home. Asking questions of Charity Commissioners? Are they relevant to a misuse of ?public funds? Asking Private Eye to turn up the heat?

Marise Hargreaves
Marise Hargreaves
5 months ago

May be getting as organised as the powers that be is a start and keep on keeping on with the challenges, getting the information out on what is actually happening and the implications for everyone. The powers that be are very tight and organised. They use their unity to crush opposition or silence people who are often not organised. They are not afraid to hide and get others to act out their plans. It only succeeds because there is no real organised opposition to challenge them. Most people have no idea what is happening which, in an age of multi… Read more »

Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
5 months ago

They seem to be obsessed with their media coverage so you can ensure that these scandals find their way into social media and the press. I’m not familiar with social media but isn’t it possible to retweet things and to share things on Facebook? It’s an admittedly small protest but I’ve cancelled my standing order and I give directly to particular Christian projects or causes. As others have commented in this thread; those responsible seem to have little or no shame and a very high threshold for other people’s pain.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
5 months ago

We can find out who our General Synod reps are and suggest they ask questions at the next meeting of General Synod. Then we can use social media to publicise the answer/s. Although usually the answers are evasive and anodyne. General Synod needs to do a better job of holding our leaders and the Church’s senior civil servants to account – as Martin Sewell said in his excellent chapter in Letters to a Broken Church.

David Lamming
David Lamming
5 months ago
Reply to  Janet Fife

Janet – questions will undoubtedly be asked at General Synod in February, especially in the light of and as a follow-up to Kat Alldread’s question in November (see Simon Sarmiento’s post, above) – the first time since 2008 that synod members were given the opportunity (pursuant to SO 117) to ask questions between groups of sessions – something I suggested in my speech on the Business Committee report in February 2019. We also need to press for a debate that will enable Synod members to comment on the matter. At present, the safeguarding item is billed in the timetable for… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
5 months ago
Reply to  David Lamming

“In addition to Safe Spaces, Synod has yet to be given the opportunity to debate the content and outcome of the Elliott, Carlile, Gibb and Singleton reports” ~ David Lamming

“has yet to be given the opportunity”.

As an outsider looking in, that’s the real problem with General Synod – it lacks any real ‘teeth’. It has to wait “to be given the opportunity”.

“Waiting for Godot”, to my mind – unless it gets a new set of teeth.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
5 months ago

Yes, the problem is that Synod is managed so that ‘awkward’ topics can’t be discussed, or discussed in detail – like the archbishops’ refusal to allow discussion of the Blackburn Letter last July. Synod members can ask questions – and David Lamming and others do that – but the answers may be given in writing, again so as to prevent too much airing of the issues.

I hope that Archbishop-elect Cottrell will be able to do something to enable Synod to be more effective, but even if the will is there the forces of inertia and omertà are powerful.

Gilo
Gilo
5 months ago
Reply to  David Lamming

David, thankyou for your tenacity – and to  other Synod members who try to get serious debate on these important things. I have seen the powerful structural resistance you are all up against. Seen questions routinely culled, or reduced as far as possible to have less impact upon the hierarchy. Watched as good initiatives (Blackburn Letter) are shelved and ignored, despite the desire of Synod members that they be opened out. Serious questions should be answered by senior figures… if the structure will allow you anywhere near the questions. Good luck. To my mind, if the next Lead Bishop can… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
5 months ago
Reply to  Gilo

Reading Greenwood’s book is like being punched repeatedly on a bruise that never gets chance to heal. I get a feeling for what Ball’s victims continue to experience, day in, day out. Now, there are new revelations in the Fletcher story. In both cases it’s easy to concentrate, as the media do, on the sex: smacking and talk of masturbation as means of “discipling” and “spiritual” growth. Of course, this is reprehensible. But let’s not forget the cover-up, the mafia-like abuse of power that that allegedly sees Fletcher’s friends threatening victims if they speak out. Where does the money come… Read more »

Kate
Kate
5 months ago
Reply to  Janet Fife

Even expertly crafted questions are not enough because the response will be “I shall reply to questions 56 and 57 together”. That way an easier question can be answered while evading – at least in part – the difficult one. Others have commented on Synod lacking powers but even the power to ask questions is easily ducked.

Stanley Monkhouse
5 months ago
Reply to  Kate

I don’t know why people expect better of GS. It’s an instrument of oppression. Always has been. The fact that its members have to be able to miss work to attend, to plough through a whole Amazonian rain forest, to bear the tedium of faux politeness and fake camaraderie without slitting their or someone else’s throats, means that representative of most church people it most certainly aint. Neither was its predecessor, apparently. When the Church Assembly was set up in 1919, taking away some of the power from Parliament, one MP said ‘The fact that the organisation proposed by the… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
5 months ago

I don’t think we need to look outside our own borders (eg Soviet Russia) to understand and explain the deficiencies of the State Church and its General Synod. Our own culture and history of empire and colonial power is sufficient.

Richard W. Symonds
5 months ago

The way in which ‘awkward’ General Synod questions are filtered out of effective debate reminds me of something the political philosopher Noam Chomsky said:

“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum – even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate”

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