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Archbishop of York welcomes ‘fourth House’ website built by survivors

28 April 2022

House of Survivors

A NEW website has been created by two survivors of clerical abuse to support other survivors and inform Church of England bishops, dioceses, and the National Safeguarding Team.

The website, houseofsurvivors.org, which went live last Friday, collates guides, books, newspaper articles, documentaries, survivor initiatives, papers, and reviews.

The name alludes to the General Synod’s Houses of Bishops, Clergy, and Laity. The website states: “A fourth House exists, long unrecognised, which has done more to drive necessary change in the Church’s structures and cultures.”

The logo, a dove carrying a green mental-health ribbon, is “to represent the primary damage that faith-based abuse often leaves behind”.

News of the site’s launch was welcomed by the Archbishop of York and other prominent figures in the Church of England. Archbishop Cottrell wrote on Twitter on Monday: “I welcome this new website and thank all those who have been involved in its creation. It is a helpful resource, which will be added to, but also a challenge to us all [in the C of E] to continue to do better.”

The site was also commended by Dr Jonathan Gibbs, the Bishop of Huddersfield and the lead bishop for safeguarding: “This is a really valuable resource and I commend it very warmly. Huge thanks to those who have put it together.

“It powerfully challenges the Church about the change that is still needed. There is a long way to go and this is an important part of that process.”

Dr Gibbs, who has been nominated as the next Bishop of Rochester, told the Church Times last month that he was “profoundly conscious of the way in which the Church has too often failed people in the past. The fact that survivors are willing to travel with us and help us to learn is amazing” (News, 31 March).

On Saturday, Dr Martyn Percy, the outgoing Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, wrote: “House of Survivors is an excellent and welcome development in the very long, long campaign to get the C of E to act with integrity, honesty, fairness, transparency, trust and accountability in safeguarding.” It was, he said, a “work in progress, as the C of E is not willing or able to act justly. Yet.”

The former Bishop of Willesden, Bishop Pete Broadbent, described the site as “a really important resource which needs to be read by every bishop and all members of General Synod”.

Justin Humphreys, the chief executive of Thirtyone:eight, an independent Christian safeguarding charity, said this week that House of Survivors was “a timely and needed resource that should be browsed and reflected on by all across the Church”.

Gilo, one of the creators of the website and a survivor of clerical abuse, welcomed the “powerful public endorsements” that House of Survivors has received.

He said on Thursday: “The fact that many bishops have spoken favourably towards it is indicative of movement in the hierarchy — and all the more remarkable given the critical nature of the contents.”

The founders of the website, Tony and Gilo, in a joint statement, pointed out that many survivors have struggled alone “against an institution that prefers to forget its past and, in many cases, has been active in managing that forgetfulness.

“House of Survivors puts an end to the institutional amnesia. . . The curation of stories it contains provides a sobering weight to the voice of survivors.”

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