It is the Methodist Church’s intention to value every human being as part of God’s creation and the whole people of God. At the heart of the Methodist community is a deep sense of the place of welcome, hospitality and openness, which demonstrates the nature of God’s grace and love for all.
Our church communities are called to be places where the transformational love of God is embodied and life in all its fullness is a gift, which is offered to all people.
There are no distinctions regardless of gender, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion/ beliefs, pregnancy/ maternity and gender reassignment; As a result, everyone has the right to protection from abuse and to be treated no less favourably than others, irrespective of any personal or protected characteristic.
Safeguarding is about the action the Church takes to promote a safer culture.
This means we will:
• promote the welfare of children, young people and adults
• work to prevent abuse from occurring
• seek to protect and respond well to those that have been abused.
We will take care to identify where a person may pose a risk to others, and offer support to them whilst taking steps to reduce such risks. The Methodist Church affirms that safeguarding is a shared responsibility. Everyone associated with the Church who comes into contact with children, young people and adults who may be vulnerable has a role to play, supported by consistent policies promoting good practice across the whole Church.
The Church and its individual members will undertake all appropriate steps to maintain a safer environment. It will practise fully and positively Christ’s ministry towards children, young people and adults who are vulnerable and respond sensitively and compassionately to help keep them safe from harm.
Based on the foundations above, the Methodist Church commits to:
• Promote a safer environment and culture.
• Safely recruit and support all those with any responsibility for children and adults within the church.
• Respond promptly and appropriately to every safeguarding concern or allegation.
• Care pastorally for victims and survivors of abuse and other people who have been affected.
• Care pastorally for those who are the subject of concerns of allegations of abuse and others who have been affected.
• Carry out risk assessments and put safeguarding measures in place where individuals pose a present risk to children, young people or vulnerable adults.
This will be done in accordance with the Church’s safeguarding policy, procedures and guidance.
2.1.1 Promote a safer environment and culture
Church officers will respect all children, young people and adults and promote their well-being.
The Church will create and maintain environments that:
• are safer for all
• promote well-being
• prevent abuse
• create nurturing, caring conditions within the Church for children, young people and adults.
It will work to continue to strengthen and review these environments. This will be done by training, support, communication, learning and quality assurance processes.
The Church will challenge any abuse of power within church communities by ensuring church officers adhere to safe working practice, and are supported in challenging bullying and abusive behaviour. It will ensure that children, young people and adults will be listened to, supported and will know that they will receive care.
2.1.2 Safely recruit and support all those with any responsibility for children and adults within the Church
The Church will select and scrutinise all those with any responsibility for children and adults within the Church, in accordance with the Church’s safeguarding policy and practice guidance.
It will train and equip church officers to have the confidence and skills they need to care for and support children, young people and adults and to recognise and respond to abuse. This will be done by providing consistent and accessible safeguarding training.
2.1.3 Respond promptly and appropriately to every safeguarding concern or allegation
Anyone who brings any safeguarding suspicion, concern, knowledge or allegation of current or former abuse to the notice of an officeholder within the Church will be responded to respectfully and actively.
All safeguarding work will be recorded with clarity and detail. All suspicions, concerns, knowledge or allegations that reach the threshold for reporting to the statutory authorities, will be reported.
This will be done irrespective of the status of the person. All officeholders and employees within the Church will work in partnership with the statutory authorities. In responding to concerns or allegations of abuse relating to ministers, the Church will act in accordance with the requirements of criminal and civil law and the Constitutional Practice and 16 Discipline of the Methodist Church, and so will respect the rights and uphold the safeguards afforded in these, both to the victim/survivor and the subject of concerns or allegations.
2.1.4 Pastoral care for victims/survivors of abuse and other affected persons
The Church will offer care and support to all those who have been abused, regardless of the type of abuse, when or where it occurred. Those who have suffered abuse within the Church will receive a compassionate response, be listened to and believed. They will be offered appropriate pastoral care, counselling and support, according to their expressed and agreed need, as they seek to rebuild their lives. An appropriate pastoral response to the family, local church, circuit and wider community will be provided, with due regard to the right of privacy of those directly involved, and to the administration of justice.
2.1.5 Respond to those who may pose a risk to children, young people or vulnerable adults
The Church, based on the message of the gospel, opens its doors to all. It will therefore endeavour to offer pastoral care and support to any member of the church community who may present a risk.
The Church will ensure that any risk has been assessed and is being managed in a safeguarding contract in accordance with the Church’s safeguarding policy and practice guidance.
This will be done in collaboration with the relevant statutory agencies, in accordance with criminal and civil law and Standing Orders.
2.1.6 Pastoral care for those who are the subject of concerns or allegations of abuse and other affected persons
In its response to suspicions, concerns, knowledge or allegations of abuse, the Church will respect the rights of those who are subject to allegations, regardless of role or position. As the processes develop, additional assessment, therapy and support services may be offered. A legal presumption of innocence will be maintained during the statutory and church inquiry processes.
The Church will ensure that steps are taken to protect others when any church officer and/or minister is considered a risk to children, young people and vulnerable adults. This will be done by working to mitigate any identified risks with a safeguarding contract or other appropriate measures.
The Church will be mindful of the need to provide support to members of families, congregations and wider communities affected by the church officer/minister’s changed situation.