Responding to Safeguarding Allegations

Parish of Buxted and Hadlow Down

ST Margaret the Queen • ST Mary the Virgin • St Mark the Evangelist

Responding to Safeguarding Allegations
in the Parish: Parish Policy and Guidance

Buxted and Hadlow Down Parish church, benefice recognise that in all matters that involve allegations that someone has, or may have, caused harm to another person, whether child or adult, the welfare of the alleged victim is paramount and is our primary concern. No other consideration, however legitimate or important, can outweigh this primary responsibility.
Buxted and Hadlow Down Parish church, benefice recognise that all allegations that someone may have harmed a child or adult must be taken seriously. In all but the most exceptional circumstances, this will mean letting a safeguarding specialist know about the allegation.
Buxted and Hadlow Down Parish church, benefice recognise that it is not our responsibility to investigate allegations, nor would it be appropriate for us to do so. Our responsibility is to pass allegations on to the person/people who can respond appropriately.
• In the first instance, this will normally involve informing the incumbent and the parish safeguarding officer (unless the allegation is about them).
Buxted and Hadlow Down Parish church, benefice will inform the Diocesan Safeguarding Team upon becoming aware of any allegation that someone in our church community has harmed, or may have harmed, a child or adult (this will normally be done by the incumbent and/or the parish safeguarding officer)
Buxted and Hadlow Down Parish church, benefice recognise that any allegation that a person in a position of responsibility for children (paid or voluntary) has behaved in such a way that indicates they may present a risk to children, will be referred by the Diocesan Safeguarding Team to the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO). If the alleged behaviour is of a criminal nature, the police will always be involved.
Buxted and Hadlow Down Parish church, benefice recognise that any allegation that a person in a position of responsibility for adults (paid or voluntary) has behaved in such a way that indicates they may present a risk to adults, will be referred by the Diocesan Safeguarding Team with the local Adults Services team manager. If the alleged behaviour is of a criminal nature, the police will always be involved. (The issue of consent are more complex with harm to adults: this will be discussed with the Diocesan Safeguarding Team in individual cases).
Buxted and Hadlow Down Parish church, benefice recognise that human behaviour is complex and many-layered, and that any individual may have motives or intentions that are not apparent, even to those who believe they know them well. Practically speaking, this means that we will commit to ensuring that any allegation that a person has harmed, or may have harmed, a child or adult will be taken seriously as per the above points, even when that person is a highly respected individual whose integrity appears to be without question.
Buxted and Hadlow Down Parish church, benefice recognises that the best way to identify any false or malicious allegation is to treat all allegations the same. A transparent, fair and accountable process that is consistently applied is best for all involved, including those against whom allegations are made.
Buxted and Hadlow Down Parish church, benefice recognise that all involved in situations where allegations are made require pastoral support. In particular, the person making the allegation and their family, and the person against whom the allegation is made and their family, will require skilled and careful pastoral support. Providing that support may be complex, and we recognise and commit to working with the wider Diocese should this situation arise.
Buxted and Hadlow Down Parish church, benefice recognise commit to implementing the advice received or any outcome arising from the above process.

The Rectory • Church Road • Buxted • Uckfield • East Sussex • TN22 4LP

Telephone: 01825 733103 • Email: rector@bhdchurches.org.uk  • Website: www.bhdchurches.org.uk

Charity registration no: 1130925

Good practice guide for church work with vulnerable adults

Parish of Buxted and Hadlow Down

ST Margaret the Queen • ST Mary the Virgin • St Mark the Evangelist

Parish of Buxted & Hadlow Down

Good practice guide for church work with vulnerable adults

Active membership and inclusion

These recommendations apply to all churches’ activities with adults who may be vulnerable – for instance, during worship on Sunday mornings, on outings, in groups and when visiting at home

They apply as much to church ‘in house’ activities for regular attendees as to activities run in and for the local community

They are designed to protect the adults who may be vulnerable in your care, as well as your leaders

They aim to create an environment where all people, including those who are vulnerable, are encouraged to participate in and contribute to all aspects of church life.

Who do we mean by a vulnerable adult?

A vulnerable adult is a person aged 18 or over whose ability to protect himself or herself from violence, abuse, neglect or exploitation is significantly impaired through physical or mental disability or illness, old age, emotional fragility or distress or otherwise; and for that purpose, the reference to being impaired is to being temporarily or indefinitely impaired.

Although everyone is vulnerable in some ways and at certain times, some people by reason of their physical or social circumstances have higher levels of vulnerability than others. Some of the factors which increase vulnerability are:

A sensory or physical disability or impairment

A learning disability

A physical illness

Mental ill health (including dementia), chronic or acute

An addiction to alcohol or drugs

The failing faculties in old age

A permanent or temporary reduction in physical, mental or emotional capacity brought about by life events, for example bereavement or previous abuse or trauma.

Remember:

Vulnerability is often not a permanent state

Vulnerability is not always visible

A person with apparently visible vulnerabilities may not perceive themselves as such

We are all vulnerable at different stages of life

Vulnerable people may also pose risk and cause harm

Recruitment

All leaders and helpers should follow Diocesan-approved recruitment procedures, which include:

Submitting an application form with references

Completing a Confidential Declaration Form

Where relevant, having a valid Enhanced Disclosure from the Disclosure and Barring Service, with barring information if eligible

Accepting that the role is a position of trust

One of the aims of the policy is for church groups to provide a warm, nurturing environment for vulnerable adults whilst avoiding any inappropriate behaviour.

Positions of Trust

The Parish makes the following expectations for those in a position of trust

all church workers must conduct themselves at all times in accordance with the reasonable expectations of someone who represents the Church; this includes both while on duty and also when off duty;

they must possess a personal copy of this Good Practice Guide for their work and comply with it;

they must take care to observe appropriate boundaries between their work and their personal life. For example, they must ensure that all communications they may have with or about vulnerable adults are appropriate in their tone;

they must seek advice immediately if they come across a vulnerable adult who may have been harmed (including self-harm) or a colleague whose conduct appears inappropriate;

they must inform the relevant church authorities promptly should any convictions, court orders or allegations of misconduct arise.

Activities with adults who may be vulnerable

Risk assess continuing and new activities, including worship, exploring what inclusion, choice and independence mean for communities and individuals.

Activities set up specifically for adults known to be vulnerable will need planning and preparation of a kind not needed for activities open to all.

Ensure there are supervision arrangements and a reporting line back to the PCC.

Respect

Always respect the vulnerable adult and all his or her abilities.

Ask about personal preferences, forms of address, how much help might be needed.

Ensure his or her individuality – e.g. always use their name.

Give the same respect as to others.

Respect differences – e.g. in appearance, ideas, personalities, ability.

Don’t assume or withhold physical contact – ask first.

Have a proper conversation using appropriate language – e.g. ask about interests.

Sometimes it may be necessary to set boundaries for some to ensure the safety of others.

Obtain specialist advice when necessary, e.g. on harassment, disability, mental illness, domestic abuse.

Choices

Respect the choices vulnerable adults make, even if they may appear risky.

Consider whether the vulnerable adult has the capacity to make choices and whether safety might require intervention.

Give vulnerable adults the highest level of privacy and confidentiality possible in their circumstances.

Consult with the vulnerable adult about who he or she wishes to be included in affecting his or her life – in a way that does not further highlight to others their vulnerabilities.

Offer assistance in such a way as to maximise a person’s independence.

Give vulnerable adults a choice about where they sit, and what activities they participate in, recognizing that some people find making choices stressful.

Ensure that there is clear access to all areas that are available to members of the congregation, e.g. where coffee is served, the bookstall, where meetings are held.

Do not assume that someone’s level of comprehension matches their verbal communication.

Language and visual resources

            Always use positive language when referring to disability, age and mental health

Consult with individual vulnerable adults to identify their special needs

Use proper sign language for deaf people and those with learning disabilities, as appropriate

Install a loop system

Have available service books and sheets in large print

Use suitable font size and colours on all printed material

Ensure that everyone has access to presentations etc., by offering a clear ‘sight line’

Make information on notice boards accessible – take into account height, words and images and size

Premises, and administration of activities specially targeted for vulnerable adults

Check buildings regularly for accessibility – doors, steps, toilets, sight lines, lighting, acoustics, colours of walls, doors, paintwork

The Safeguarding Officer should make and update annually a list of all paid staff and voluntary workers in the church who have regular, direct contact with vulnerable adults, and ensure that full recruitment procedures have been followed for each of them

Always have a phone throughout each activity for emergencies; this may be a mobile phone

All confidential records about leaders, and confidential records relating to allegations of abuse against members of the congregation, and special concerns about adults who may be vulnerable, should be stored in a locked filing cabinet, with access limited to the Safeguarding Officer and the Incumbent

Record all accidents in the Accident Book, which should always be accessible on the premises.

Transport

Lifts arranged by adults among themselves are a private matter and not the concern of the church unless there appears to be abuse or exploitation.

Lifts arranged by the church, whether using existing pastoral care workers or a special team of drivers, are a church Lifts responsibility. Drivers need to be safely recruited. Carers should be consulted as appropriate.

All those who drive vulnerable adults on church-organised activities should normally be over 25 and should have held a full driving licence for over two years.

All cars that carry vulnerable adults must be comprehensively insured. The insured person must make sure that their insurance covers the giving of lifts during church activities. They must inform their insurance company that lifts may be given.  There are separate requirements governing minibuses.

All cars that carry vulnerable adults should be clean and in a roadworthy condition.

All passengers as well as the driver must wear seat belts. If there are no seat belts vulnerable adults should not be carried.

Take care in assisting vulnerable adults to board or leave vehicles, taking account of the guidance on touch.

At no time should the number of passengers in a car exceed the usual passenger number. There must be a seat belt for every passenger.

Recognize that people are vulnerable when receiving a lift as they cannot leave a moving car or effectively resist inappropriate approaches.

If lifts are also provided to GP or hospital appointments or adult social care facilities this is regulated activity and attracts a DBS check with barring information.

Any driver who has an endorsement of 6 points or more on their licence should inform the Parish Safeguarding Officer.

Any driver who has an “unspent” conviction for a drink driving offence or for Dangerous Driving or Racing on the Highway should not transport vulnerable adults.

Visiting adults who may be vulnerable in their homes (including residential and nursing homes)

Always do an assessment of risk to both the vulnerable adult and other interested parties, including yourself, before visiting someone in their own home.

If there are concerns or risks known before the visit is undertaken, give careful consideration to whether the visit is absolutely necessary, or whether you should be accompanied by another adult.  Don’t take unnecessary risks.

Always carry a mobile phone on a home visit, and ensure that someone knows where you are and when you are expected to return.

Don’t call unannounced: call by arrangement, if appropriate telephoning the person just before you go.

Always carry identification with you or a note of introduction from your church.

Always knock on the door before entering a room or home; respect the person’s home and possessions.

Don’t take or offer sweets, drink or other food items to people you are visiting.

Never offer ‘over the counter’ medicines to the people you visit or administer prescribed medicines even if asked to do so.

As a general principle, do not give those you visit your home phone number or address. Instead, where possible leave information about a central contact point.

If you don’t know the answer to a question or feel out of your depth, seek advice and if appropriate refer the person to another agency. Know where you can access information about other relevant services.

When referring someone on to another person or agency, talk this through with the vulnerable adult. Ask his or her permission before passing on personal information. Make the link with the new person or by yourself: if it is more appropriate for the vulnerable adult to do so themselves make sure they have all the information they need and that their contact will be expected.

Be clear about your boundaries: keep to agreed limits on how much time you will spend with someone and how often you come. Don’t take on extra responsibilities on a bit by bit basis. Be realistic about the amount of time you have; don’t say yes to every request for help.

Set a pattern and expectations about communications between visits. Beware of over-frequent texting or emailing and exchanges late at night.

Avoid handling money for vulnerable adults; if it is unavoidable provide receipts and discuss with group leader or PCC treasurer

Be clear about what behaviour is acceptable – and what is not – from the vulnerable adult.

A record of pastoral visits and home communions must be kept by the church.

What to do if a vulnerable adult appears to be at risk

The church does not itself investigate situations of possible risk to vulnerable adults from others but church members are entitled to clarify whether they consider there may be such a risk.

If you have reasonable grounds for suspecting that a vulnerable adult is being abused or neglected it may be appropriate to refer them to the local authority adult protection service.

The consent of the person concerned is normally needed. However, if they are not able to give informed consent or are being intimidated, they can be referred without consent.

If in doubt whether a referral is appropriate, consult the Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser or the local authority adult protection service.

Make a record of the concerns and the action taken as soon as possible after the event and make sure a copy is on file. See guidance on Recording safeguarding issues.

An abuse of power is a safeguarding issue.

If there is a suspected criminal offence the victim should be encouraged to report the matter to the police and assisted in doing so if necessary.

Refer on and work with existing statutory and voluntary services.

Conflicts and disagreements

Recognize that the churches have duties of care to both perpetrators and victims or survivors if they are both parishioners.

Bullying and harassment either by or of anyone in the church community is not acceptable.

Recognize that vulnerable adults may be perpetrators as well as victims of abuse.

Be fair, sensitive and confidential.

Set a good example: challenge inappropriate behaviour but do so courteously.

Be aware of your own power, even if you don’t feel powerful.

Ask for help if you feel out of your depth.

Think before you act.

Listen to your instincts.

It will usually be necessary for a different team or individual to support a perpetrator from that supporting a victim.

In some cases it may be appropriate to consult a trained mediator. The Diocese has access to these.

In exceptional cases it may be necessary to ask the perpetrator to move to a different church. This should then be carefully facilitated. The Archdeacon may need to be involved.

Needs of carers

Many carers are not aware that they are carers and may benefit from links with organizations for carers that can offer help and advice.

Local carers’ organizations are able to advise churches on caring issues.

Remember the needs of carers – treat them as individuals, include them as appropriate, offer breaks and short times apart and practical assistance if feasible.

Carers are entitled to an assessment of need from local authorities, but this does not carry a guarantee of services to meet the needs identified.

Important telephone numbers:

Statutory agencies and other useful contacts:

Police (Emergency only)

Police (all non-emergency enquiries)

999

101

East Sussex County Council Adult Protection

Health & Social Care Connect

0345 60 80 191

Email: HSCC@eastsussex.gov.uk

NHS 111 Service

111

Elder Abuse Response

080 8808 8141

www.elderabuse.org.uk

Samaritans

116 123

National Domestic Violence (24-hour) Helpline

0808 2000 247

Carers Direct National Helpline

0300 123 1053

Diocesan contacts:

Colin Perkins

Diocesan Safeguarding  Advisor

tel:01273 425792 01273 425792

or tel:07500 771210″ 07500 771210

Colin.Perkins@Chichester.Anglican.org” colin.perkins@chichester.anglican.org

The Rectory • Church Road • Buxted • Uckfield • East Sussex • TN22 4LP

Telephone: 01825 733103 • Email: rector@bhdchurches.org.uk  • Website: www.bhdchurches.org.uk

Charity registration no: 1130925

Good Practice guide for those working with Children & Young People

Parish of Buxted and Hadlow Down

ST Margaret the Queen • ST Mary the Virgin • St Mark the Evangelist

Behaviour Code for Adults Working with Children

This Code outlines the expectations of the Parish of Buxted & Hadlow Down for all those who work or volunteer with children. It reflects our desire to follow Jesus in all we do, reflecting his love to those we minister to. It follows from our determination to ensure that our church is a place where children can not only be safe, but feel safe. And, it reflects our unwavering commitment to the highest possible standards of safeguarding practice.

Following this code will help to protect children from abuse and inappropriate behaviour from adults. It will help them learn how safe adults behave around them – thus equipping them to better recognise if an adult is behaving unsafely around them, and to know that this behaviour is wrong. It will also help staff and volunteers maintain the standards of behaviour expected of them, and will reduce the possibility of unfounded allegations of abuse being made against them.

Upholding the Code

All members of staff and volunteers are expected to report and breaches of this code to the Rector or the Parish Safeguarding Officer under the parish whistle-blowing procedure, or, if necessary, under the parish safeguarding policy.

Staff and volunteers who breach this code of behaviour may be subject to disciplinary procedures or asked to leave their role. Serious breaches may also result in a referral being made to a statutory agency such as the police of the local authority children’s social care department.

Responsibility of Staff and Volunteers

When working with children and young people for the Parish of Buxted & Hadlow Down, all staff and volunteers are acting in a position of trust. It is important that all staff and volunteers are aware that they may be seen as role models by children and young people, and by their parents. They therefore must act in an appropriate manner at all times.

When working with children and young people, it is important to:

•Treat all children and young people with respect and dignity.

•Ensure that your own language, tone of voice and body language is respectful.

•Value the contribution of children and young people, and take their views seriously, actively involving them in planning activities wherever possible.

•Respect a young person’s right to personal privacy.

•Always aim to work within sight of another adult.

•Ensure another adult is informed if a child needs to be taken to the toilet; toilet breaks should be organised for young children.

•Ensure that children and young people know who they can talk to if they need to speak to someone about a personal concern.

•Respond warmly to a child who needs comforting, but make sure there are other adults around.

•If any activity requires physical contact, ensure that the child and parents are aware of this and it’s nature beforehand.

•Administer any necessary First Aid with others around.

•Obtain consent for any photographs/videos to be taken, shown or displayed.

•Record any concerning incidents and give the information to your group leader. Sign and date the record.

•Always share concerns about a children or the behaviour of another worker within your group leader and/or the parish safeguarding coordinator.

When working with children and young people, you should not:

•Initiate physical contact. Any necessary contact (e.g. For comfort, see above) should be initiated by the child.

•Play rough physical games with children, or allow games with a potentially physical element (such as ‘British Bulldog’) to be played between children without careful thought, planning, and prior notification to parents and children.

•Act, speak, or conduct yourself in a sexually provocative or suggestive way way, either directly towards children, or with other adults when you are with children, or engage in any sexual behaviour at all with children or young people. It is your responsibility to do everything you can do to avoid any hint of sexually inappropriate behaviour, language, or styles of relating with children or young people.

•Encourage children to behave in sexually provocative or suggestive ways with each other.

•Touch a child inappropriately or obtrusively.

•Invade a child’s privacy while washing or going to the toilet.

•Act in a way that can be perceived as threatening or intrusive.

•Use any form of physical punishment.

•Scapegoat, ridicule or reject a child, group or adult.

•Permit abuse peer activities, e.g. Initiation ceremonies, ridiculing or bullying.

•Show favouritism to any one child or group.

•Allow a child or young person to involve you in excessive attention seeking, including that which is overtly physical or sexual in nature. It is always your responsibility to maintain appropriate boundaries in your work with children and young people.

•Give lifts to children or young people on their own or on your own.

•Smoke tobacco in the presence of children.

•Drink alcohol when responsible for young children, or offer to give or buy them alcohol.

•Share sleeping accommodation with children.

•Invite a child to your home alone.

•Arrange social occasions with children (other than family members or close family friends) outside organised group occasions.

•Allow unknown adults access to children. Visitors should always be accompanied by a known person.

•Allow strangers to give children lifts.

The Rectory • Church Road • Buxted • Uckfield • East Sussex • TN22 4LP

Telephone: 01825 733103 • Email: rector@bhdchurches.org.uk  • Website: www.bhdchurches.org.uk

Charity registration no: 1130925

E- Safety Policy

Parish of Buxted and Hadlow Down

ST Margaret the Queen • ST Mary the Virgin • St Mark the Evangelist

Parish E-Safety Policy

This policy should be read alongside the Parish of Buxted & Hadlow Down’s policies on Safeguarding, Whistleblowing, Anti-Bullying, and Reporting Concerns about a Child.

This policy applies to all staff, including clergy, PCC members, paid staff, volunteers including children’s and youth workers, those involving in leading or coordinating music and worship, and anyone else involved in working or volunteering on behalf of the Parish of Buxted & Hadlow Down.

Purpose of Policy

•To protect children and young people who are ministered to by the Parish of Buxted & Hadlow Down and who make use of information technology (such as mobile phones/devices, games consoles and the Internet) as part of their involvement with the parish.

•To provide our staff, volunteers, and parents with the overarching principles that guide our approach to e-safety.

•To ensure that, as a Christian community, we minister in line with our values, and also within the law, in terms of how we use information technology and behave online.

•To guide us as we seek to equip the children and young people with whom we minister to be safe, discerning and wise users of information and communication technology.

We recognise that:

•The welfare of the children and young people to whom we minister and with whom we come into contact is paramount, and should govern our approach to the use and management of electronic communications technologies and online behaviour;

•All children, regardless of age, disability, gender, racial heritage, religious belief, sexual orientation or identity, have the right to equal protection from all types of harm or abuse;

•Working in partnership with children, young people, their parents, careers and other agencies is essential in promoting young people’s welfare, and in helping young people to be responsible in their approach to e-safety;

•The use of information technology is an essential part of all our lives; it is involved in how we as a church gather and store information, as well as how we communicate with each other. It is an intrinsic part of the experience of children and young people, and is greatly beneficial to all. However, it can present challenges in terms of how we use it responsibly, and, if misused either by an adult or a young person, can be actually or potentially harmful.

We will seek to keep children and young people safe by:

•Treating any child protection concern arising from the online world in the same way, taking it just as seriously, as concerns arising from the offline world.

•Ensuring that our parish safeguarding officer has access to up-to-date information and training regarding online safety, assisting them as appropriate to access this training.

•Ensuring that all staff and volunteers at the Parish of Buxted & Hadlow Down avoid using private forms of electronic communication (text message, email, direct messaging including on social media) to communicate with the children and young people they are responsible for.

•Taking the use of such private communication between staff or volunteers and young people as seriously as one-on-one contact between adults and children without another responsible adult present. It is always the responsibility of the adult staff member or volunteer to put appropriate boundaries in place in their relationships with the young people with whom they minister, in both the offline and online worlds.

•Using open online forums to communicate with children, such as Facebook youth group pages to notify young people of events etc.

•Avoiding any form of inappropriate content in what we, our staff and our volunteers post online, including (but not limited to) sexual content, racist, sexist or otherwise bigoted content, or content promoting illegal activity.

•Maintaining electronic versions of sensitive personal data securely, according to the principles of the Data Protection Act.

•Providing age-appropriate awareness material, including training, to children and young people with regards to online safety. In particular, we will make them aware of the Thinkuknow website, and about Childline.

•Providing awareness material to parents with regards to online safety. In particular, we will make them aware of the Thinkuknow, Parents Protect, and UK Safer Internet Centre websites.

The Rectory • Church Road • Buxted • Uckfield • East Sussex • TN22 4LP

Telephone: 01825 733103 • Email: rector@bhdchurches.org.uk  • Website: www.bhdchurches.org.uk

Charity registration no: 1130925

Expressing Concerns and ‘Whistleblowing’: Policy and Guidance

Parish of Buxted and Hadlow Down

ST Margaret the Queen • ST Mary the Virgin • St Mark the Evangelist

Expressing Concerns and ‘Whistleblowing’: Policy and Guidance

Introduction

Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility: given this, encouraging people to express concerns appropriately and in a timely fashion is an important aspect of a strong safeguarding culture. Additionally, ‘whistleblowing’ has been recognised has having an important place in developing a strong safeguarding culture within organisations. At the most simple level, anyone can spot a genuine concern and it is important that everyone who does so feels safe to raise that concern. At a more fundamental level, organisations – including the church – can become hierarchical and opaque, and a strong whistleblowing policy recognises the importance of empowering those who may not hold positions of structural influence within the organisation to feel confident enough to speak out, should they believe poor practice to be present.

The aim of this policy and associated guidance is to provide a clear and transparent way for anyone involved in to raise genuine concerns regarding poor practice that impacts upon the safety or wellbeing of children or adults to whom the Parish of Buxted & Hadlow Down ministers. It also aims to ensure that any concerns are dealt with effectively and in a timely fashion.

This policy and guidance provides a simple set of steps to deal with concerns, ensuring that people are not penalised for raising genuine concerns, even if those concerns appear to be unfounded.

This policy and guidance applies to everyone involved in the Parish of Buxted & Hadlow Down, including all workers who are involved on either a paid or voluntary basis. Like all parish safeguarding policies, this policy should be easily available for all – for instance at the back of church and on the church website. It should not be necessary for someone who wants to see this policy to ask a leader within the church to provide it.

Our Commitment:

•The Parish of Buxted & Hadlow Down recognises that safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility

• The Parish of Buxted & Hadlow Down recognises that no other concern or responsibility, however genuine, outweighs the need to prioritise the welfare of children and adults at all times

•The Parish of Buxted & Hadlow Down welcomes, encourages and urges anyone who is concerned about any aspect of our safeguarding practice or provision to raise those concerns, as outlined in the Guidance below

•The Parish of Buxted & Hadlow Down welcomes, encourages and urges anyone who is concerned about any the safety and welfare of a child or adult to report those concerns as outlined in the Guidance below, and in accordance with the Guidance found in the section of the Diocesan Safeguarding Website, entitled ‘What Do I Do If?’

•The Parish of Buxted & Hadlow Down undertakes to treat all such concerns seriously, as outlined in the Guidance below

•The Parish of Buxted & Hadlow Down guarantees that no-one who raises any concern in good faith, even if those concerns are ultimately found to be unfounded, will face any adverse consequences whatsoever.

Guidance:

What to do if you have a concern:

•In the first instance, speak to the leader of the area of church about which you have a concern (for instance, if your concern is about Sunday School, speak to the Sunday School leader). A good principle is that concerns should be dealt with at the lowest level necessary, and only escalated beyond that if those concerns remain, having been expressed. However, if your concern is about the behaviour of a leader in the church (lay or ordained), you may feel that you need to escalate it to someone in authority over them; you would be perfectly justified in doing this.

•Try to be as specific as possible: what or whom are you concerned about exactly? Can you give specific dates or examples of what has caused your concern? Vague concerns are difficult to investigate. If you only have an impression, or cannot give specific examples, you may still wish to express concerns but be open about the limited details you have.

•Try and avoid language that is either accusatory or emotive: your aim it to improve an area of church life, not to put the recipient of your concern on the defensive.

•It is very helpful to quote policy, if you can (although if you cannot, this is not a reason to avoid expressing your concern). This helps the person receiving your concern to see very quickly that you are simply holding the church to account to its own policies, or to Diocesan policies.

•Face-to-face is usually best, but follow up the conversation in writing. “Last Sunday after church I expressed a concern about X, you replied by saying Y, and you said you would get back to me by Z. Please could you reply by confirming my understanding of our conversation is correct”: a simple written communication such as this can assist greatly in providing clarification to all concerned about what was said (although see below guidance for the person receiving the concern along similar lines).

•If you are satisfied that your concern has been resolved, you can leave the matter there. If you are not, it is important that you escalate it.  We suggest that a suitable ‘order of escalation’ would be:

• Lay Leader in Church (e.g. Children’s Work Leader)

• Incumbent (and/or churchwarden in a vacancy)

• Diocesan Safeguarding Team

• Bishop

• National Safeguarding Team

•In escalating your concern, you are acting in an entirely appropriate way. Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility; there may be the rare occasion where you just have to raise your concern outside of your local parish context, in order to ensure that the children and adults your church ministers to are safe.

•If you feel that the concern has great urgency and cannot be escalated in this manner (for instance if you are concerned about the safety or welfare of a child or adult), then you must raise those concerns without delay with the appropriate statutory authority. Please follow the guidance on the Diocesan Safeguarding Website, under the section entitled ‘What Do I Do If?’. Use the appropriate sub-heading to find out how best to report these concerns.

What to do if you receive a concern

•If someone tells you that they have a concern, you should arrange to meet him/her as soon as possible.

•Approach the situation sensitively, recognising the discomfort that the person may feel. Offer to meet him/her away from the church if they wish, and allow them to being a friend if that would help.

•Do not promise confidentiality: you do not know what they are going to share, but if they share an immediate safeguarding concern you will have no choice other than to break that promise.

•However, be prepared to discuss the possibility of anonymity for the person sharing the concern. People may have reasons to want to stay anonymous, even if they know they have to say something, and closing this option off may mean that the concern never gets aired.

•Reassure the person that there will be no negative repercussions for any concern shared in good faith – even if it turns out to be unfounded or mistaken. ‘Concerns’ shared out of malice or divisiveness are a different matter but at this stage, assume the person to be acting in good faith.

•You may wish to suggest sources of support for the person – especially if they are on their own without the support of a fried or family member. Sharing concerns in an institutional context can be very intimidating – even in church – and the concern may have been a source of great anxiety for a long time. The person may be sharing the concern with you because this anxiety has reached the point where they feel compelled to act, and in coming to you they are expressing a great measure of faith that they will be well-received, and not have their intentions misinterpreted. They may wish to speak to someone outside of the immediate context to receive some pastoral support (for instance from a neighbouring parish), or they may wish to speak to someone in the Diocesan Safeguarding Team.

•Recognise that not everyone expressed genuine concerns appropriately. Someone can say something in the wrong manner, at the wrong time and with the wrong language – but still be right. Don’t be too quick to dismiss what someone says because of how they say it.

•Make notes of the conversation, ideally at the time or immediately afterwards.

•Follow-up your conversation in writing, as soon as you can. “On date X, you expressed your concerns about Y. I replied by saying I would look into what you said, and would get back to you by date Z’. This helps provide clarity for all involved.

•Make sure you are clear about what you will do with the concern, by when you will do it, and when you will let the person know. Give the person a clear indication of when they can expect to hear back from you, and keep to this promise if you have made no progress – hearing from you with no news is better than not hearing from you.

•Unless the concern is easily resolved, we suggest that you seek advice from the Diocesan Safeguarding Team. If the concern is about the behaviour of an adult in the church, you must follow the policy ‘Managing Allegations in the Church’. If the concern is about the safety and welfare of a child or adult, you must follow the guidance provided in the ‘What Do I Do If?’ section of the Diocesan Safeguarding Website.

•The crucial principle for any adequate Whistleblowing policy is that anyone raising any concern in good faith – whether or not that concern is ultimately justified – should suffer no adverse consequences whatsoever. Further guidance regarding this can be found in the web links in this section of SQP.

The Rectory • Church Road • Buxted • Uckfield • East Sussex • TN22 4LP

Telephone: 01825 733103 • Email: rector@bhdchurches.org.uk  • Website: www.bhdchurches.org.uk

Charity registration no: 1130925