THE Archbishops of Canterbury and York have welcomed the appointment of a Chair and a Survivor Advocate to the new Independent Safeguarding Board (ISB), tasked with overseeing the C of E’s National Safeguarding Team (NST).
A former Children’s Commissioner for England, Dr Maggie Atkinson, has been appointed Chair of the Board of the ISB, Lambeth Palace announced on Thursday. “The Chair will provide expert recommendations to enable the Church of England to embed a proactive, preventative, safer culture, and ensure the Church is held publicly accountable for any failure to respond to the ISB’s recommendations,” a statement said.
It also announced that Jasvinder Sanghera, the founder of the charity Karma Nirvana (Interview, 5 September 2014) and who chairs the Leeds Children Safeguarding Partnership, had been appointed as the Board’s Survivor Advocate, to “ensure that the experiences and views of victims and survivors are heard and embedded within the safeguarding policy and practice development frameworks”.
The statement said that the two appointments had been made by an independent panel, “which will now work with the Chair to appoint a third member to the ISB whose skills and roles will complement the members already appointed”.
In December, the Archbishops’ Council voted unanimously in favour of a proposal to establish independent oversight of the NST (News, 26 February).
Dr Atkinson said on Thursday: “I am honoured and pleased to have been appointed to establish and chair the Church of England’s Independent Safeguarding Board. I look forward to starting our work, as a strong response to safeguarding concerns whether they are historical, or current. We will be a small but insightful group, from a range of backgrounds and experience. For all my adult life I have worked with and for children, young people, families, and vulnerable adults. Such work holds ordinary people and their concerns at its centre.
“The Board will focus on how the Church either protects people who work for or come into it, or falls down in its duty to do so. All who engage with the Church must be confident they will be kept safe. It follows that safeguarding must be a primary concern in everything the Church does, every day.
“This work is not only about really learning lessons when things have gone badly wrong and people have been hurt as a result. It is about the culture, practice, and steadfastness of safeguarding as an automatic, Church-wide state of mind. The Board’s role will be to question, reflect, and report on how far this culture is manifested in what the Church does for the people it serves.”
Ms Sanghera said: “It is vital that the Board, in overseeing and assuring the soundness of the work done by the National Safeguarding Team, has the voice of survivors and victims ever present in all it does, and says.
“This role is significant to the journey of the church and I am delighted that I will be contributing to this vision, helping to make a difference to the lives of those affected by abuse, so that lessons are not only learned but embedded in practice.”
The Archbishops said in a joint statement: “These are vitally important appointments and we are pleased to welcome them. Numerous reports in recent years have made clear the Church of England’s safeguarding failures and provided clear and urgent recommendations for how these can be addressed — including greater transparency and accountability at every level.
“We are deeply grateful to Maggie and Jasvinder for offering their wisdom, skills and lived experience to move us forward and provide greater oversight of the Church’s safeguarding work.”