This contribution was written by dr. Ineke Cornet, safeguarding officer
As a chaplaincy of the Church of England in Europe, we are committed to the Church’s official policies concerning safeguarding. In response to the growing awareness of abuse, many Churches have designed policies to protect children, the young, and the vulnerable.The Church of England has been considering, reviewing and improving its existing practice so our churches and activities can be safe thriving places, and has updated its protocol in 2015. Bishop Robert introduces the need for safeguarding as follows in the safeguarding protocol:
“In recent times the issue of ‘Safeguarding’ children, young persons and adults who may be vulnerable has sadly become a matter of great concern. There are numerous recorded instances of failure by both individuals and institutions to provide a safe and secure environment for these groups. In particular there is abundant evidence that claims of abuse have been ignored (in some cases quite deliberately) by some institutions.”1 As a Church, we believe that every human being is created in the image of God and deserves protection. Bishop Robert explains that the Church therefore needs to make sure everything is put in place to prevent abuse taking place:
“Sadly it is a fact that a tiny majority of people will attempt to infiltrate any organisation to abuse members of vulnerable groups. The Church is by no means immune from this risk, as has been amply evidenced in recent years. Our aim in this protocol is to ensure that we do all that is within our power to prevent abuse within our diocese.”2 To this end, the Diocese promotes “safe churches.” The protocol summarises succinctly what we mean by ‘safeguarding:’
“In simple terms the concept of ‘safeguarding’ is about seeking to prevent abuse to vulnerable groups with whom we work and minister. The groups of concern include children, young persons (for example teenagers up to the age of 18), and adults (those over 18) experiencing, or at risk of, abuse or neglect.”
The abuse to which these groups may be subject covers a broad spectrum. The protocol names the most widespread forms of abuse that include: Emotional abuse, Neglect & Self-Neglect, Physical abuse, Sexual abuse, Financial abuse, Discriminatory abuse, Organisational abuse, Modern Slavery, Domestic Violence and abuse, and Spiritual abuse.
There are two key strands to the approach of the Church of England. First, the Diocese has adopted a practice of careful identification of those involved with children, young persons or adults who may be vulnerable we aim, as far as we are able, to eliminate abuse happening. This process includes a full safeguarding check of all individuals involved in these areas of ministry ensuring that no one with a criminal record will be able to work in the Church. Second, every member of a chaplaincy congregation shares a moral duty to provide a safe and secure environment. This includes complying with the safeguarding protocol and reporting signals of abuse. If you suspect or become aware of abuse in any form please contact the safeguarding co-ordinator as soon as you can. If you would prefer, you can call the diocesan confidential telephone line +44 (0)207 898 1163 and leave a message as to your concerns. In addition to this, it is of course your right and duty as a citizen to inform the local law enforcement agencies if you believe a criminal offense has been committed.
All matters reported are kept strictly confidential. The Diocesan Safeguarding Team also provides support to assist local churches in the process of reports of abuse and to deal with both victims and abusers who acknowledge their offending. With special regard to accessing professional help for those who have been abused, the Diocese has established a network of ‘Authorised Listeners’ who can help those who have been abused.
These are people who are fully trained and experienced counsellors who may be contacted by telephone in complete confidence. The contact names and numbers are available through the Diocesan Safeguarding Team. Their contact details can be found at http://europe.anglican.org/safeguarding/safeguarding
For more information, please see the full safeguarding protocol which can be found on the Church of England’s website: http://europe.anglican.org/safeguarding/policy-and-guidance. Other useful documents relating to working with adults in their own homes, and the adult to child ratios when supervising children can be found here as well. Please note that any activity with minors, such as Sunday school, requires the presence of two adults.
Dr. Ineke Cornet has been appointed as this Chaplaincy’s safeguarding officer in May. She did her degrees in theology and has been involved in children’s ministries in different parishes. As a teacher and lecturer, she has experience in dealing with issues regarding promoting a safe environment for minors and vulnerable students. She is married and mother of two daughters and has lived in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Australia. She is a regular member of Holy Trinity Utrecht. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on her phone number which is listed on the Utrecht, Amersfoort and Zwolle safeguarding protocol that is displayed on the notice board and in the newsletter. Stefan van der Knaap is currently responsible for the administrative aspects of safeguarding in All Saints Amersfoort on behalf of the council. Eva Slot is the safeguarding officer for Grace Church Groningen. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to speak to your safeguarding officer, chaplain or wardens. We intend to keep you informed about safeguarding in future newsletters.
1 Safeguarding Protocol, http://europe.anglican.org/safeguarding/policy-and-guidance. 2 Ibid