THE Chapter of Wells Cathedral has pledged “to listen and learn” after a report by the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) suggested that there was a culture of “unhappiness and fear” among the cathedral’s 75 staff and 500 volunteers (News, 18 March).
The Chapter commissioned the audit by the SCIE, which independently audits safeguarding practice in Church of England cathedrals. The auditors judged safeguarding provision for visitors, vulnerable adults, and children to be good, and safe-recruitment to be practised.
But, in a thread that recurs throughout the report, “Staff themselves appear unhappy and some have developed vulnerabilities which have not been recognised.”
Last Friday, the Cathedral Chapter responded in a statement, saying that it welcomed the audit. It went on to say that the Chapter “recognises that it will benefit from external scrutiny by measuring itself against current best safeguarding practice: wanting to understand what the Cathedral does well, and where the focus of attention and resource needs to be to improve and develop what is done”.
It continued: “While the audit report, which is only a draft at this stage, recognises many strengths in our safeguarding practices, the Cathedral Chapter (the governing body of the Cathedral) was nonetheless shocked and very saddened to learn of some of the feelings expressed. As a body, we are deeply sorry to hear of the unhappiness and anxiety felt.
“We want to listen and learn, and we take these concerns extremely seriously. We have already started to consider the helpful questions raised by the SCIE auditors in the full report.
“While we strive for happy excellence with faith at the heart of everything we do at the Cathedral, we need to do so within a caring and supportive environment and the wellbeing of all staff and volunteers is of the utmost importance. Wells Cathedral seeks to be a centre of welcome and well-being, where all can be embraced by the forgiving love and grace of God.
“When the report is finalised, it will be made available on our website with the action plan we are undertaking to create a healthy culture of care.”