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Survivors of abuse asked to help improve Church of England safeguarding practice

Wed 13 Jun 2018
By Tola Mbakwe

The Church of England has enlisted the help of a safeguarding expert to help improve how it treats people who have been abused or are at risk of harm.

Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) has launched a survey on behalf of the Church. It's seeking the views of people with first-hand experience of abuse to find out what a good response from the Church should look like.

Dr Sheila Fish, who reviews safeguarding in faith contexts for SCEI, told Premier the Church has a responsibility for anyone who has been abused by people who work for the Church. She said it is also committed to keeping everyone involved in Church activities safe.

 

"We also want to hear from people who needed help for other reasons not related to abuse by people in church roles. You might have been a victim of domestic abuse, you might have been vulnerable due to different life circumstances and turned to church for help and support.

"If the Church is going to have a chance to improve how it treats people when they do disclose abuse... it's vital that they hear directly from people who had that first-hand experience."

SCEI stated that it fully appreciates that survivors will have painful experiences and strong feelings about their personal cases. The aim of the survey is not to gather survivors' testimonials of past or current experiences of Church responses, but to hear survivors' views and perspectives of what should happen at different stages of engagement.

Fish added that it wants to hear from people who've had both good and bad experiences with how the Church handled their experiences.

The results will complement results from an independent audit by SCIE of safeguarding arrangements in all 42 dioceses across England.

Anonymised results received by 30th June will be used at a General Synod discussion in early July, and will be published by SCIE later in the summer.

SCIE will continue to accept responses to the survey after 30th June. All responses will be treated confidentially.

The survey can be found on SCEI's website and the Church of England's national safeguarding website. 

Listen to Dr Sheila Fish speaking with Premier's Tola Mbakwe here:

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