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C of E asks abuse-survivors for advice on safeguarding

21 July 2022

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A NATIONAL survey has been launched by the Church of England to gauge the views of victims and survivors of abuse on the development and implementation of its safeguarding structure.

Questions in the 15-minute survey, published on the C of E website on Tuesday, are largely multiple-choice, including what might motivate a respondent to participate or engage with the safeguarding work of the Church; barriers or challenges to this; the importance of varying types of participation, e.g. use of language, listening, and diversity; and how the Church should “recognise and value” this engagement.

Another question asks: “How can the Church ensure that any survivor engagement activity does not retraumatise or negatively affect you?” Beneath this is a list of “areas which are considered as being important by survivors currently engaging with the Church”.

These are: protecting rights of confidentiality, privacy, and anonymity; considering personal needs and triggers; “preventing and challenging certain attitudes that have the potential to harm and retraumatise”; being fully informed; care and human connection; setting clear boundaries and a trusted working relationship with church staff; “tackling any unfair treatment promptly and sensitively”; and feeling welcomed, listened to, and supported.

Respondents, who will remain anonymous, are also asked to indicate the extent to which they agree with three statements:

“A clear policy of how the Church brings survivors and church officers to work together will help make the Church a safer place;

“Any survivor engagement framework should include a mechanism (either through a code of conduct or a charter) that will enable and protect the working relationships for all those involved;

“Getting everyone around the table can create open spaces where sensitive issues can be debated between leaders, survivors, professionals, academics and other valuable partners.”

The survey, which is available on the C of E website, runs until 18 September. The results will inform a publicly accessible report, including key themes and next steps.

The Bishop of Birkenhead, the Rt Revd Julie Conalty, who is the deputy lead safeguarding bishop for survivor engagement, said: “The survivor voice is vital to our ongoing safeguarding work in the Church. It is not just about listening but acting on what we hear. This survey is part of the Church’s commitment to meaningful, transparent, and impactful survivor engagement work. I hope we can learn from those who come forward and share their views to develop this new framework.”

churchofengland.org/safeguarding/survivor-engagement

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