Safeguarding Children, Young People and Vulnerable Adults Policy
for Westerhope Methodist Church
This policy was agreed by Church Council – 21st February 2023
The Methodist Church, along with the whole Christian community, believes each person has a value and dignity which comes directly from God’s creation in God’s own image and likeness. Christians see this as fulfilled by God’s re-creation of us in Christ. Among other things, this implies a duty to value all people as bearing the image of God and therefore to protect them from harm.
Westerhope Methodist Church is committed to the safeguarding and protection of all children, young people and adults and affirms that the needs of children or of people when they are vulnerable and at risk are paramount.
Westerhope Methodist Church recognises that it has a particular care for all who are vulnerable whether as a result of disabilities or by reduction in capacities or by their situation. It is recognised that this increased vulnerability may be temporary or permanent and may be visible or invisible, but that it does not diminish our humanity and seeks to affirm the gifts and graces of all God’s people.
This policy addresses the safeguarding of children, young people and vulnerable adults. It is intended to be a dynamic policy. It is intended to support the Church in being a safe supportive and caring community for children, young people, vulnerable adults, for survivors of abuse, for communities and for those affected by abuse.
Westerhope Methodist Church recognises the serious issue of the abuse of children and vulnerable adults and recognises that this may take the form of physical, emotional, sexual, financial, spiritual, discriminatory, domestic or institutional abuse or neglect, abuse using social media, child sexual exploitation or human trafficking (slavery). It acknowledges the effects these may have on people and their development including spiritual and religious development. It accepts its responsibility for ensuring that all people are safe in its care and that their dignity and right to be heard is maintained. It accepts its responsibility to support, listen to and work for healing with survivors, offenders, communities and those who care about them. It takes seriously the issues of promotion of welfare so that each of us can reach our full potential in God’s grace.
Westerhope Methodist Church commits itself to
RESPOND without delay to any allegation or cause for concern that a child or vulnerable adult may have been harmed or may suffer harm, whether in the church or in another context. It commits itself to challenge the abuse of power of anyone in a position of trust.
IMPLEMENT the Methodist Church Safeguarding Policy, Procedures and Guidance; government legislation and guidance and safe practice in the circuit and in the churches.
PROVIDE support, advice and training for lay and ordained people that will to ensure that people are clear and confident about their roles and responsibilities in safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and adults who may be vulnerable.
AFFIRM and gives thanks for the work of those who are workers with children and vulnerable adults and acknowledges the shared responsibility of all of us for safeguarding children and vulnerable adults who are on our premises.
Legal responsibility for safeguarding rests with the members of the Church Council. The Safeguarding Officer should be a member of the Church Council or have the right to attend at least annually to report on the implementation of the Safeguarding Policy. It is not appropriate for the Minister to fill any gap, because of the potential conflict with their own responsibilities.
Westerhope Methodist Church appoints Vivien Edington as Church Safeguarding Officer (Adults) and as Church Safeguarding Officer (Children) and supports her in her role which is to:
• provide support and advice to the minister and the stewards in fulfilling their roles with regard to safeguarding.
• ensure that a suitable, signed church safeguarding policy is displayed at all times in the church on a safeguarding noticeboard, along with names of current safeguarding officers, national helplines and other suitable information. This must be renewed annually.
• record all safeguarding issues that are reported to the church safeguarding officer, according to Methodist safeguarding policy.
• promote appropriate routes for reporting of concerns.
• identify and inform those who are required to attend safeguarding training and maintain records of attendance. Work with the Circuit Safeguarding Officer and District Safeguarding Officer to arrange training.
• attend training and meetings relating to the role.
• work in partnership with the Minister, Property Team (Administration, Lettings & Operation), Stewards and those appointed to Church Council to represent areas of church life that involve children and vulnerable adults and user groups to promote good safeguarding practice on church premises.
• check that safeguarding is included as an agenda item at all Church Council meetings and report to the Church Council annually.
• in conjunction with the minister ensure that the church recruits safely for posts involving working with children or vulnerable adults and inform those with responsibility for recruitment, whether paid or voluntary, of their obligation to follow safer recruitment procedures.
• advise the Circuit Safeguarding Officer and/or District Safeguarding Officer of issues with compliance with safeguarding training, policy or safer recruitment requirements and respond promptly to any request from them about audit of safeguarding activities.
The purpose of the church safeguarding policy is to check that procedures are in place and provide clarity about the roles and responsibilities of those trusted with promoting the church as a safe space for all its users.
b) Good Practice
We believe good practice means that:
i) All people are treated with respect and dignity.
ii) Those who act on behalf of the Church should not meet or work alone with a child or vulnerable adult where the activity cannot be seen unless this is necessary for pastoral reasons, in which case a written record of this will be made and kept noting date, time and place of visit.
iii) The church premises will be assessed by representatives of the Finance and Property Committee at least annually for safety for children and vulnerable adults and the risk assessment report will be given annually to the Church Council in written form. This will include fire safety procedures. The Church Council will consider the extent to which the premises and equipment are suitable or should be made more suitable.
iv) Any church-organised transport of children or vulnerable adults will be checked to ensure that the vehicle is suitable and insured and that the driver and escort (where required) are appropriate. An agreed record kept in the church file for each driver/car.
v) Activity risk assessments should be undertaken before any activity takes place to minimise the risk of harm to those involved. Approval should be obtained from the event leader/minister. A written record of the assessment will be retained securely.
vi) Promotion of safeguarding is recognised to include undertaking those tasks which enable all God’s people to reach their full potential. The Church Council will actively consider the extent to which it is succeeding in this area.
These things are to safeguard those working with children, young people and those adults who may be vulnerable.
c) Appointment and Training of Employed Workers
Workers will be appointed after a satisfactory DBS disclosure and following thr safer recruitment procedures of the Methodist Church. Each worker will have an identified supervisor who will meet at regular intervals with the worker. A record of these meetings will be agreed and signed and the record kept. Each worker will be expected to undergo safeguarding training, within the first 6 months of appointment. The other training needs of each worker will be considered (e.g., food hygiene, first aid, lifting and handling, etc.)
d) Pastoral Visitors
Pastoral Visitors will be supported in their role with the provision of Foundation Module (2020 edition) safeguarding training upon appointment. If they are undertaking tasks for which a criminal records check would be required, this will be undertaken prior to appointment.
e) Guidelines for Working with Children and Vulnerable Adults
A leaflet outlining good practice and systems should be given to everyone who works with children, young people and vulnerable adults outlining good practice and systems. The leaflet will be reviewed annually with this policy.
f) Ecumenical events
Where ecumenical events happen on church premises, safeguarding is the responsibility of this Church Council.
g) Events with church groups off the premises
Adequate staffing, a risk assessment and notification of the event to be given to the Church Council Secretary, Vivien Edington to be discussed at a Church Council meeting prior to the agreement for any event or offsite activity. When agreed, details to be forwarded to the Church Safeguarding Coordinator, Vivien Edington. If the activity is unusual or considered to be high risk the church safeguarding officer will contact the circuit safeguarding officer in order that it can be ratified or any queries raised.
h) Other groups on church premises
Where the building is hired for outside use, the hirer signing the letting agreement will be given a copy of this policy and complete the hiring agreement. The Lettings Secretary will consider the various users of the building in making lettings. Completed hiring agreements will be forwarded to the Church Safeguarding Coordinator, Vivien Edington annually for secure storage.
i) Complaints procedure
There is a formal complaints procedure within the Methodist Church, which allows issues to be raised about actions or behaviour by a member or officer of the Church. In addition, employed staff will be subject to relevant contractual procedures. All complaints will be responded to with care, diligence and impartiality.
A complaint should be addressed to the superintendent minister, the Revd. Jona Sewell. If a complaint is made to another person it should be referred to them. Meetings will be arranged with the person making the complaint and, usually, the person against whom the complaint has been made, in an attempt to resolve it. If the complaint is against the superintendent, it should be sent to the District Chair, the Revd. Stephen Lindridge at 246 Wingrove Road North, Fenham, NE4 9EJ.
Safeguarding officers must be informed of any complaint or issue relating to the potential abuse of children or adults who may be vulnerable. They will support prompt action to respond to the circumstances of any safeguarding concern, whether or not any party involved wishes to make a formal complaint through the Methodist Church.
This policy will be reviewed annually by the Church Council. The date of the next review is February 2023
k) Key Concepts and Definitions
i) A child is anyone who has not reached their eighteenth birthday.
ii) Vulnerable Adults: Any adult aged 18 or over who, owing to disability, mental function, age or illness or traumatic circumstances, may not be able to take care or protect themselves.
iii) Safeguarding and protecting children or vulnerable adults from maltreatment; preventing impairment of their health and ensuring safe and effective care.
iv) Adult/child protection is a part of safeguarding and promoting welfare. This refers to the activity which is undertaken to protect children/specific adults who are suffering or are at risk of suffering significant harm, including neglect.
v) Abuse and neglect may occur in a family, in a community and in an institution. It may be perpetrated by a person or persons known to the child or vulnerable adult or by strangers; by an adult or by a child. It may be an infliction of harm or a failure to prevent harm.
Signed ________________________ Chair of Church Council