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Church’s National Safeguarding Team failed to offer survivor emergency support, says ISB

07 June 2023

ISB

The ISB’s website

The ISB’s website

THE National Safeguarding Team (NST) of the Church of England has failed to offer emergency support for a survivor of church-related abuse as recommended by the Independent Safeguarding Board (ISB) in its first case review.

The review, seen and reported by the Church Times last month (News, 31 May), was officially published by the ISB on Tuesday, along with a statement from its board members. The statement said that the NST had already failed to implement one of its nine recommendations — to convene an urgent case-management group meeting within four weeks of this review, to “oversee chronic cases” being handled by the Church’s Interim Support Scheme.

This was primarily to ensure that the needs of the survivor — known in the review as Mr X — were seen to urgently and that his financial difficulties were addressed.

The review is dated March 2023 and was handed to the Church’s Director of Safeguarding, Alexander Kubeyinje, at that time. The ISB statement said that, “In recognition of the urgency” of the situation, “the ISB took the exceptional step of writing to the NST with advanced notice of the formal recommendation on 30 March 2023.

“The Church of England’s approach to implementing this recommendation needs to be consistent with the urgency of the case and the need for a trauma-informed approach. The ISB is aware of ongoing communication between the Church of England and Mr X/his advocate, and we will continue to monitor progress and seek a satisfactory outcome.”

Mr Kubeyinje has not responded formally to the recommendations. He said in a statement on Tuesday, however, that the NST “had already started working on some of the recommendations before the report was commissioned and published”. He added that the NST had “been making every effort to set up a case management group meeting”.

The Interim Support Scheme — set up in 2020 in response to Mr X’s case, to provide immediate assistance to survivors while a national redress scheme is implemented — had been kept “under constant review”, he said.

“There are already plans to increase staffing, in order to shorten waiting times, improve accessibility and streamline the process of applying.”

The ISB statement said that the board had been advised that the Church’s response to its recommendations “needs to be approved by the National Safeguarding Steering Group (NSSG). This has been legally challenging as data relating to Mr X could not be shared with the NSSG. Consent has been received for the report to be shared with senior members of Church leadership.”

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