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Church of England to offer survivors therapeutic support until full Redress Scheme in place

15 August 2022


THE Archbishops’ Council has amended the terms of reference of the interim support scheme for survivors of church-based abuse, to allow applications for professional therapy beyond the original 12-month period set out.

In 2020, in response to a recommendation by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), the Church’s National Safeguarding Team (NST) announced that an interim pilot scheme for survivors would be implemented, which would inform the creation of a full redress scheme (News, 2 October 2020).

Survivors and their advocates have been critical of the interim scheme (News, 9 July 2021), and have recently expressed dismay at further delays to the full scheme (News, 22 July). A question put to the General Synod last month pointed out that, under the terms, support for survivors who were dependent on the scheme would expire after six to 12 months — before the new scheme was in place.

Responding, the Bishop-elect of Rochester, Dr Jonathan Gibbs, who is the lead bishop for safeguarding, had said that the Archbishops’ Council had “agreed to extend the Scheme’s provision of professional therapy until the redress scheme is in place”.

This has now been implemented.

A statement published on the Church’s safeguarding web pages on Thursday of last week reads: “As a result of the Archbishops’ Council’s decision, the Scheme can now consider applications for professional therapeutic support beyond the original twelve-month period prescribed and until such time as the Redress Scheme is in place.”

In a letter to the Church Times last week (Letters, 5 August), the Bishop of Truro, the Rt Revd Philip Mounstephen, who chairs the Redress Board, writes: “I would like to emphasise that we are committed to there being no gap of provision of support for survivors and victims, whether through our current interim support scheme for those in urgent need or through a possible pilot redress project before the main scheme is in place.”

He continues: “This is about ensuring that appropriate responsibility is taken across the Church for our safeguarding failings, wherever abuse has actually taken place.” The details — “still to be agreed” — would not affect the survivor-facing aspects of the scheme, he said. “Claims will not be thus delayed, and survivors will have a single point of contact, and will certainly not be passed from institution to institution, as has been suggested.”

Responding in a letter to the Church Times this week, the Redress Scheme Victim and Survivor Working Group, whose membership is confidential, write: “We are pleased to hear that the Church is discussing closing the gap between the interim scheme and the redress scheme. It is crucial that the current gaps in provision are closed, to ensure that the necessary support for survivors remains available.”

The group were working with the C of E, “in the hope that the scheme can be a functional and fair source of redress, offering compensation for harm caused, acknowledgement and apology, and support for emotional and spiritual recovery. The plans are developing and moving forward, although the scale of the task means that it is slower than originally hoped for, and we want it to be the best it can be.”

Read the letter here

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