Thinking back on all that’s happened to me in the past five years is a long list of the usual ups and down of life! Children have grown up and left home; friends have moved on in their lives and we stay in touch through the ever popular developments of social media: Twitter, Facebook and FaceTime; I have had amazing opportunities at work and been able to develop professionally; sadly, some family members have died; others are growing older and frailer and some have moved into residential care; grandchildren have come along…
All of this is the day to day stuff of life but, for some, how to cope with the ups and downs of their lives is blighted by their past; a past where their sexual abuse went unrecognised or unchallenged. And, of course, the Church has its part to play in this.
Throughout the next five years, the independent Goddard Inquiry will investigate whether public bodies and other non-state institutions in England and Wales – of which the Church is one – have taken seriously their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse. The inquiry plans to identify institutional failings and to demand accountability for these.(You can read the inquiry here: www.csa-inquiry.independent.gov.uk)
As the inquiry progresses many victims and survivors will share their experiences of abuse and none of this will be easy to hear. Our churches should be safe spaces for all people, but we know there have been times where people have been badly let down.
The next few years may highlight more situations where the Church and other institutions should and could have done better. But we can help ensure now that in our churches our safeguarding work grows and develops so that, for both children and adults who may be at risk, we remain vigilant; that we appoint and train people and volunteers well; that we dare to ask those ‘what if?’ questions; and that we act, raising concerns appropriately. Most importantly we need to listen carefully and support victims and survivors of abuse.
Judith Knight, Head of Human Resources and Safeguarding