Diocese and Cathedral to mark Safeguarding Season

Diocese and Cathedral to mark Safeguarding Season

A fence tied with numerous coloured ribbons on it.

Between Safeguarding Sunday on the 10 October, and All Survivors’ Day on 3 November, Rochester Cathedral and the Diocese of Rochester, will mark a Safeguarding Season to raise awareness of a number of safeguarding issues that have implications for everyone.  
 
As part of the Season, a ‘LOUDfence’ installation will be present on the railings around the Cathedral, where anyone may pause to attach a ribbon, message, or pray, to show solidarity with all victims and survivors of child sexual abuse. 
 
The installation will be opened at a simple event on Friday 8 October at 10am. A LOUDfence is also appearing at Carlisle Cathedral in October.
 
The Safeguarding Season will include an awareness campaign on social media, signposting to information and support organisations around issues such as:

  • church-context abuse
  • gender-based violence
  • modern slavery
  • neglect or abuse of elderly people
  • financial exploitation of vulnerable people
  • peer on peer abuse
  • varied contexts in which someone of any age can find themselves a victim of abuse.

For more information visit Safeguarding Season.

It will also draw attention to the needs - and the courage - of victims and survivors of abuse who are living with the scars and damage caused by abuse, but who have been brave enough to speak out against their abusers.
 
For this reason, the Cathedral and the Diocese are very grateful to have had the involvement of a victim and survivor group, and activists, to help with the planning of the season, to ensure that the voices of those who have been abused are heard.
 
The Rt Rev Simon Burton-Jones, the Bishop of Tonbridge, says this is an opportunity to start changing the culture around safeguarding, particularly in the Church:

To be safe asks of others that they keep you safe. Sadly, the Church has a long and shameful history of failure when it comes to protecting the vulnerable in its midst.

“This Safeguarding Season is a small but important step we are taking towards changing the view that safeguarding is something to be relegated to a tick box exercise. Rather it is something we should do joyfully as a sign of mutual care and concern for one another, and as a demonstration of our understanding that everyone is valued in the sight of God.

“I am deeply grateful to those victim and survivor groups who have worked with us to make this Season possible.”

As well as a set of films exploring what safeguarding means to individuals from a range of organisations and church roles, there will be a series of events hosted by the Cathedral.
 

  • A Service of Lament will take place on 27 October at 5.30pm in the Cathedral to which all are welcome.
  • A reflective event later on in the Season, for victims and survivors to attend if they wish, will be facilitated by the national victim and survivor peer-support group, Survivors Voices.

 
The Cathedral will be providing a safe and welcoming space. The Rev Canon Dr Gordon Giles, Canon Chancellor of Rochester Cathedral says:
 
“Safeguarding is for everyone, and to neglect it or see it as irrelevant is to neglect victims of abuse or see their plight as irrelevant.  To do so is simply wrong, whereas to become informed and aware of issues and the ways in which they present themselves around us all the time, is to truly act in accordance with Christ’s call to love our neighbour. 
 
We have worn masks to protect others during the Coronavirus pandemic, yet we need to unmask the suffering, damage and neglect that is often inflicted behind the scenes in such differing ways to vulnerable adults and children.”
 
Jane Chevous, from Survivors Voices says:
 
“Church is the last place you should experience abuse, and as a church abuse survivor, I know how hard it is to trust the church again to keep us safe. But our research with survivors showed that we still turn to faith communities to offer help, hope and healing.
 
“We very much welcome this opportunity to work with Rochester and Carlisle Cathedrals and Dioceses to send the strong message that safeguarding is everyone’s business, and we can all stand in solidarity with survivors.
 
“Survivors who would like to get involved or meet with other survivors can contact me in confidence through our website www.survivorsvoices.org or connect@survivorsvoices.org
 
Aware that some of the issues that will be reflected upon may be a trigger for some, anyone affected is encouraged to contact the Diocese’s Safeguarding Team. Visit www.rochester.anglican.org/safeguarding for contact details.
 
In addition, Safe Spaces is an independent service supporting survivors of church-related abuse. It is free to access via telephone - 0300 303 1056 (answerphone available outside of opening times), email - safespaces@victimsupport.org, or web-chat via www.safespacesenglandandwales.org.uk/
 
A list of helplines offering support on a range of issues can be found on the Church of England’s website at: www.churchofengland.org/safeguarding/reporting-abuse-and-finding-support