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Survivors of Church abuse call for clear safeguarding information on church websites

17 August 2018

A Church Near You

A Church Near You

SURVIVORS of abuse in the Church of England are urging parish priests to give clear safeguarding information on their websites, as well as on the new church-finding website, A Church Near You.

Chris Hernandez, a survivor of abuse by Peter Ball, said on Tuesday: “Young people are technologically savvy these days, more so than many vicars, and the church website is the first place they will go for safeguarding information.

“We are trying to encourage vicars to update these details as soon as possible.”

All PCCs are required to sign a statement formally adopting the latest safeguarding policy from the House of Bishops. To comply with this policy, church websites must display information about where to get help with child- and adult-safeguarding issues, such as local authorities and helplines, as well as details of the parish safeguarding contact and churchwarden.

They must also provide access to a safeguarding handbook.

Despite this, several churches or parishes still did not have any safeguarding details on the homepage of their websites, Mr Hernandez said, while many more did not provide any information at all.

He is currently working with 16 other Anglican survivors of church abuse to carry out a survey, due to be released next month, which will rank the dioceses as to how far they comply with the current safeguarding policy.

The diocese of Salisbury, which has a part-time safeguarding adviser and two assistants, is reportedly the most compliant; the diocese of Derby, which employs five safeguarding officers, including a full-time safeguarding adviser, three assistants, and one training provider, is in last place.

A Church Near You was created by the digital communications team at Church House last year to make it easier for people to find and contact their nearest church, which may not have — or at least have an up-to-date — website (News, 16 November 2017).

The team at Church House were “certainly working on a range of information to share with all its parishes, including safeguarding”, a spokeswoman confirmed on Wednesday. This may include a dedicated page on which the church administrator can upload details of parish safeguarding contacts and other information.

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