Safeguarding: 'significant steps forward'
Baptist churches have been making significant steps forward with safeguarding in recent years, supported by our Union’s commitment to provide excellent resources and guidance
That’s a key message following the completion of the historic safeguarding case review at The Baptist Union of Great Britain (BUGB), of which ministers were informed this week. A statement about the review has now been posted here.
The review process, commissioned by the BUGB Trustee Board, saw 4,370 files assessed – all the records our Union holds of everyone who is or who has been an accredited Baptist minister. It included files dating back to the 1940s.
The aims of the review were four fold: to give a clear picture of how our Union has handled cases in the past; to make sure that it is meeting all of its legal responsibilities; to identify any cases where it needed to do more to act justly; and to apply the learning from the review to its current and future safeguarding practice. As such, the review is one component of a wider safeguarding development plan which has seen substantial improvements in recent years:
An increase in specialist staff who are able to advise and support both churches, colleges and associations.
More than 120 trainers are now in place around the country to deliver the Excellence in Safeguarding training at levels 2 and/or 3 (up from just 25 in 2014)
A suite of free resources for safeguarding children and adults at risk, including the new template policy and procedures for churches.
A new Level 1 film for use in all age services recently launched.
Last year Baptists Together provided DBS checks for 11,400 people in our churches (3,000 more than 2014); and more than 4000 people in our churches participated in the BUGB safeguarding training programmes.
The Ministerial Recognition Rules have been changed so it’s now mandatory for all accredited ministers to keep their safeguarding training up to date.
As the review has progressed changes have been made immediately to improve current safeguarding policies and practices, and this has made a real difference in how more recent cases have been dealt with.
In his message to ministers informing them of the completion of the review, Andy Hughes, Ministries Team Leader, said the changes had been made ‘to ensure that we do all that we can to excel in safeguarding’.
He encouraged all ministers to continue to play their part, such as keeping their training up to date.
‘We can have great processes and policies in place, but unless they are put into practice and followed, the vulnerable among us do not get the protection and help that they deserve,’ he wrote.
Those undertaking the review have liaised with the Charity Commission, which has been positive about the thoroughness of the process. As well as implementing the lessons learned, work continues as our Union looks to provide better support and pastoral care for survivors of abuse and to support all those who take on safeguarding roles in their local churches.
Commenting on the review, General Secretary Lynn Green said, ‘We must continue to pray for all those who have been abused by someone they should have been able to trust, whether that was a Baptist minister or church leader.
‘Alongside our prayers, our practical and whole-hearted commitment to good practice will be the lasting legacy of the historic case review.’