General Synod heard a presentation on independence and next steps for safeguarding in the Church of England, followed by a debate on a safeguarding motion.
The presentation was led by the three members of the Independent Safeguarding Board, ISB; chair Maggie Atkinson, survivor advocate Jasvinder Sanghera and Steve Reeves. The independent chair of the National Safeguarding Panel, NSP, Meg Munn also addressed Synod outlining the scrutiny role of the NSP.
Jasvinder Sanghera talked about her research into the Church’s work with survivors and victims, and stressed the need for honesty in the Church’s relationship with them and the need to engage with them on Church’s safeguarding journey. ‘There is a need for new shared understanding on both sides.’
She outlined two particular areas of feedback she had received relating to the interim support scheme and its need to expand, and the importance of reform of the CDM including the need for longer consultation periods. Jasvinder’s full report based on her research will be published on the new ISB website later this month.
In response to a question about PCR2 Meg Munn acknowledge that delay in publication of any report is always frustrating but stressed the importance of getting the national report right, particularly that the recommendations are properly written and produced to ensure safeguarding in the Church is improved.
Following this presentation on independence, Synod debated and voted in support of a motion brought by lead safeguarding bishop, Jonathan Gibbs. In a speech introducing the motion he said: “Our shared goal is to make our church communities the safest and healthiest places for all people that they can be – places where every single person is protected and nurtured and supported.”
‘That this Synod:
(a) acknowledge and deeply regrets the safeguarding failures of the Church of England and especially their effect on victims and survivors, noting the vital importance of their voice in the Church’s ongoing safeguarding work;
(b) recognise the challenges involved in changing the culture and practice of safeguarding across the Church of England as well as the effort that is being put into this nationally and in dioceses and parishes,
(c) urge the Archbishops’ Council to ensure that IICSA’s recommendations for the Church of England are fully met as soon as possible, and
(d) request regular updates on progress at each group of sessions, especially concerning the strengthening of independent accountability and oversight of the Church’s safeguarding work at all levels.’
GS 2263 Safeguarding and Independence.pdf (churchofengland.org)
GS Misc 1320 NST update.pdf (churchofengland.org)