The Church of England has commissioned an independent audit of how cathedrals keep people safe from harm and abuse.
Bringing in ‘fresh eyes’ and safeguarding expertise in this way is standard good practice across all sectors. Its purpose is to proactively enable learning and improvement in how cathedrals individually, and collectively, keep people safe. Cathedrals nationally are taking part in this – in fact it is now a prerequisite for registering with the charity commission, under new legislation, known as the ‘Cathedrals Measure 2021.’ Chichester’s audit will take place between 14th and 16th September 2021.
The Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE), a leading improvement agency is conducting these safeguarding audits. Two SCIE auditors will be visiting each cathedral, looking at safeguarding files, policies and training, as well as meeting with safeguarding professionals and key members of Chapter.
Importantly, they are keen to hear from members of the congregation, volunteers as well as our wider community, who attend events at the Cathedral.
They are also interested in hearing from people who have direct experience of receiving help, or trying to get help, from cathedrals to keep themselves safe, or people who have sought safeguarding help from Chichester Cathedral on behalf of a friend or family member.
If you, or someone close to you:
- Has been abused or mistreated by clergy or someone in a church-related role - be they lay or clerical, paid or volunteer;
- Have approached the Cathedral to talk about abuse or harm that happened in other places – for example in the family, at work, or in another organisation;
- Has raised concerns about unsafe situations in the Cathedral, where you’ve feared children or vulnerable adults may be at risk of harm or abuse;
- Needed help to keep safe because circumstances - such as bereavement, relationship breakdown, redundancy, physical or mental ill health, drug or alcohol dependencies, physical disabilities, learning disabilities, old age, or emotional distress - led you to seek pastoral support from the Cathedral;
- Has needed to complain about how one of the above concerns was handled by the Cathedral.
then the auditors would be interested in hearing from you. The auditors want to hear from people with good and bad experiences of Cathedral responses. You can be a lay person, clergy or lay Church officer. You can be a friend or family member, as well as people with first-hand experience.
We invite you to complete the SCIE online survey, available via the Cathedral website, by the 10th September.
If you have choristers in your family, or children involved in the life of the Cathedral, there is a separate link for them to share their views.
Safeguarding is for everyone. We will all be vulnerable at different points in our lives, whether as a result of separation, loss of one’s job, or bereavement. How we care, and look out for each, at all times – this is what safeguarding is really about, and as such, is part of everyone’s Christian duty.
The auditors will be interested in issues such as the general culture of the Cathedral. Are you encouraged to speak up, and raise concerns? Do you know how to do so, and who to approach? Are there clear messages that bullying, mistreatment, abuse, and misuse of power are not tolerated? Are you confident that your voice will be heard? They will also have more specific concerns around our policies and practices.
May I take this opportunity to thank you in advance, for participating in this survey, and to remind you, that if you have any questions or concerns in the meantime, our specially trained safeguarding team is always on hand, ready to speak to you.
The Very Reverend Stephen Waine
Dean of Chichester