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Safeguarding: Everybody's Business

11 December 2020

Safeguarding: Everybody’s Business

A recent survey by Ipsos MORI suggests that public trust in the clergy has decreased significantly in recent decades, with little more than half the respondents – fifty-four per cent – trusting clergy to tell the truth, down nine per cent in the last year alone. This is only one survey, but it is a worrying one not only for the clergy themselves but for the whole church. I have no doubt that a contributory factor in the results of the survey is the (deservedly) negative publicity the church has received as a result of multiple failures in its safeguarding of children, young people and vulnerable adults. These failings have been exposed in the two major reports of the Independent Investigation into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) which were published in October and November this year.

Early in 2020 Wakefield Cathedral’s own safeguarding arrangements were audited by the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE). The audit was conducted in a highly professional and constructive way by two experienced members of the SCIE team and the report can be found here . As well as highlighting areas of good practice at the cathedral, the report offered the cathedral a number of ‘considerations’ and at its December meeting the Cathedral Chapter approved a Safeguarding Plan in response to the audit which can be found here. This Plan will be sent to SCIE, as well as to the National Safeguarding Team and the Diocesan Safeguarding Advisory Panel. I pay tribute to our Acting Chapter Safeguarding lead, Canon Leah Vasey-Saunders, for the immense amount of work she has put in to developing the cathedral’s response.

The IICSA reports demonstrate just how vital it is that the every cathedral and parish church should have good safeguarding practice at the heart of its ministry, and we are determined that this will be the case at Wakefield Cathedral. Our own audit report showed that we take safeguarding seriously at the cathedral, and I am very grateful to, and proud of, my colleagues – clergy, lay staff and volunteers – for all they do to ensure that we are a place where everyone feels safe. But there is never room for complacency, and our Safeguarding Plan makes it clear that we are determined to continue developing our processes and procedures in line with good practice. Safeguarding is everybody’s business, and together we will ensure that Wakefield will remain a place where everybody feels safe.

Dean Simon

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