SAFEGUARDING ANNUAL UPDATE 2021
This time last year, Galloway Diocese’s safeguarding update ended like this:
The months ahead remain very uncertain. There is no doubt that living with Covid-19 is going to be a way of life for the foreseeable future, and that means our Christian duty to care for one another is more important than ever before. Sometimes, caring may mean staying away; sometimes, caring may mean providing practical help; always, caring will mean remaining vigilant about the welfare of those around us as we gather in worship.
A year on, we are still living in the midst of the pandemic that will shape the future of our society, our parishes and our ministries. We are still trying to care for one another as best we can, sometimes under difficult circumstances. As we emerge from, God willing, the worst of the restrictions and closures, our parish is faced with the task of re-building ministries. Integral to this work is a solid understanding of the Core Safeguarding Messages of the Catholic Church in Scotland, which are focussed on growing a culture where care for others is prioritised. These Core Safeguarding Messages have been made explicit in the new, revised version of In God’s Image, which came into force on 8thSeptember this year, and I will outline them for you now.
First, the safety of children and vulnerable adults is of paramount concern. Not only do we follow recognised procedures to keep them safe, we are also called to recognise, for example, that children are created in God’s image, as fully human as any adult, which prevents us from marginalising them or disregarding their needs.
We demonstrate zero tolerance of abuse, and we report all allegations of abuse to the statutory authorities. There are no exceptions to these core elements of our safeguarding work.
We show compassion for all who have suffered experience of abuse. We have clear procedures for responding to survivors who approach us, with the possibility of support for family members if required. Locally, we are establishing links with survivor support agencies. This will enable us to provide information on how we can support survivors who do not wish to engage with us directly. Nationally, a survivor advisory panel is being established to allow survivors to safely input to our safeguarding work.
We acknowledge and learn from our past failings. As we move into the future, we learn from those failings and from the voices of people who were hurt to ensure that, in Pope Francis’ words, we will say “never again” to abuse of any kind occurring within our communities.
We open our safeguarding practices to independent scrutiny. The Diocese of Galloway received an external safeguarding audit, concluding in January 2020 with the publication of a report which is freely available online. The diocese engaged fully with this process of scrutiny, and implemented all the subsequent recommendations. In addition, every year our diocese completes a safeguarding audit which is scrutinised by an Independent Review Group. Then, throughout the year, we follow an ongoing cycle of planning, monitoring, reviewing and reflecting on our safeguarding practices to ensure we continuously grow our culture of care.
We provide training and support to all who are responsible for safeguarding. This has continued throughout the pandemic, with adaptations being made where appropriate such as training being delivered online.
The final core safeguarding message is that together, we commit to continuous improvement in our safeguarding practice. Safeguarding is the responsibility of all of us, united as the body of Christ.
The diocesan safeguarding team would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone—priests, safeguarding coordinators and volunteers—for all your work keeping our communities safe, and keeping the safety and wellbeing of others as a priority in all that you do. We keep you in our prayers, and ask for God’s blessing on all that you do.