The safety and wellbeing of everyone who is part of a church is of the utmost importance. Our safeguarding policy has been in place for many years now. It is a substantial document based on the policies of both our parent denominations and requires anyone in our church working with children to be CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) checked. Everyone involved with children at the moment has CRB clearance and this is regularly updated. Anyone volunteering to help with any new provision (such as messy church) will also need to be cleared by the CRB.
However changes in the law and in the policies of our parent denominations have meant that we have had to update our church safeguarding policy this summer. One change is that the law now requires us to have policies relating to vulnerable adults and another is that our parent denominations have decided that we cannot combine bits from both churches but must choose one or the other. After taking advice from the Safeguarding Officers of both denominations, we have decided to adopt the Methodist policies. The paperwork for this has been done and the policy is backed up with a substantial amount of guidance on a range of issues and situations which might face a church. The URC Safeguarding Officer has assured us that there is likely to be very little difference between the two policies in any substantive way but the URC paperwork is not due to be available until 2014.
The main policy document and the file of supportive material are in the vestry and a copy of the policy will be placed on the website in the next few weeks. In essence the only difference is the inclusion of the sections on vulnerable adults. Some of the sections on best practice which we included in our previous policy are not now in the main document but are in the supportive material in the red file.
As followers of Jesus Christ, it is the responsibility of all of us to care for each other and especially to be alert to the needs of the young and the vulnerable. Every year our Junior Church and Youth Leaders have attended a training update and there has been a training day for Safeguarding Officers and secretaries every year for many years now. People holding particular posts (such as stewards) in the church are currently being asked to attend an awareness- raising session in the next twelve months. If possible we will run this in our own church and make it available to anyone else who wishes to attend.