3rd April 2020
The months ahead will bring all sorts of challenges, and it is important that we don’t overlook the specific needs of those who are vulnerable, or who may become vulnerable, as the measures taken to combat the spread of the Coronavirus become more intense.
The government has made it clear that all places of worship should be closed for the time being. This means that any activities for children and young people can only take place in an online environment. We recognise that the social contact that these groups provide is a lifeline for many families. However, this is a particularly vulnerable time for children and young people as perhaps they spend more time online or on social media. As parents, we need to keep a close watch on any of our children’s online activities to ensure they remain safe.
Please also be mindful of households where you are aware of serious relationship difficulties between family members, and especially those where there are concerns about domestic abuse, for whom self-isolation will be a particularly stressful time. Ensure regular online or telephone check-ins with these households and make prompt referral to social care and the police if you become concerned. On a broader scale, we are likely to see that social isolation and increase in anxiety may raise tension levels in all households not just those where there is an existing issue.
Where you are aware of people who live with serious mental health issues, agreeing a contact arrangement with them so that they know when to expect a call is important. To encourage and listen will make a big difference at an anxious time. You may also be able to help by checking that they have supplies of any medication they take, and that they feel able to maintain a regular pattern of taking such medication.
The leaders in Church Support are working hard together to ensure that people within our communities in receipt of safeguarding or mental health service support/intervention, are deemed as a priority. Arrangements are designed to help ensure that vulnerable adults, children and families receive regular contact/support over the phone or via Skype, etc as required. For those with complex, severe and enduring mental health needs, this is a time of increased anxiety. Mental health services phone lines are under increased pressure and therefore Mental Health Trusts, in partnership with NHS Direct, are arranging direct telephone support for their regular clients and will communicate those contact details directly to the clients who need this support and information. We recommend you signpost to these local support services rather than trying to provide support yourself.
DDC, our DBS checking service provider, have confirmed that they will continue to operate through the coming months and that they have emergency provisions in place to support this. They do not anticipate delays to the timescales for checking but have pointed out that they carry out checks for many NHS trusts and social care providers and will prioritise these if necessary.
Our normal checking regime, as part of safer recruitment, continues to apply to make sure that those who work directly with children, young people and adults at risk are suitable for the work they undertake.
Many people are setting up local volunteer groups to help those in need. The government has just published a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) sheet for those who are volunteering and those who might have or be planning to set up local volunteer groups.
It is likely that those who already feel vulnerable will feel increasingly so over the months ahead. We must recognise that the new social distancing requirements, the restrictions of self-isolation and the need to rely on others for help all present challenges and that there is also a risk of people being taken advantage of during times when they are worried and uncertain. Please remind all church workers and volunteers of your reporting process in case they hear anything that concerns them, and to act promptly to report if concerns arise.
Church Support Safeguarding Team are available to advise and support – please do contact them if you want to talk about how to work safely or if you have concerns. Contact details are as follows:
- Graham Edmondson: 07513 399611 or via email
- Marilyn Riding: 07534 569714 or via email
- Derek Barron: 07779 061519
Version 1 – produced on 3 April 2020