Next week is designated Safeguarding Week in the Diocese of Leeds, with our partners in West and North Yorkshire. Safeguarding is Everybody’s Business is the theme of the week, although safeguarding the young, the vulnerable and adults who may be at risk is an ongoing commitment in our diocese and in the Catholic Church as a whole.
This is why each diocese has a professional Safeguarding Co-ordinator: a lay-person with responsibility for providing advice, guidance and training for the bishop, parish clergy, employees, and Parish Safeguarding Volunteers. The Safeguarding Co-ordinator’s work is not only as a decision-maker to ensure compliance with the Church’s robust and transparent policies and procedures which help prevent harm, but a key part of this Safeguarding professional’s role is also to be the first and principal confidential point of contact in supporting and empowering victims and survivors, working with the Police and other statutory authorities in the interest of justice for those who have suffered harm.
Nationally, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW) has responded to a recent Review of Safeguarding in the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle by the Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency (CSSA). The Review also make recommendations to be implemented in the Church across England and Wales in further strengthening Catholics’ commitment to Safeguarding.
Our own diocese is no exception in this commitment, and Bishop Marcus has recently appointed our new Diocesan Safeguarding Co-ordinator, Mary Kearney. Mary is from Leeds and originally qualified in nursing; she joins us with years of experience in similarly senior roles in several NHS Trusts. Mary acknowledges that in Safeguarding it is often necessary to ‘believe the unbelievable and think the unthinkable, in order to allow someone to speak the unspeakable.’
Bishop Marcus said:
‘West Yorkshire Safeguarding Week’ reminds us of our own diocesan commitment to promote the awareness and realisation of good safeguarding practices in our parishes and schools. To safeguard, that is ‘to care for and protect from harm’, the young and those who are at risk of any form of abuse, is a fundamental responsibility that is rooted in the Ten Commandments and the instruction of Our Lord Jesus Christ to safeguard his “little ones” and to look after his lambs and his sheep. All of us share in that responsibility to safeguard and to attend with compassion to the needs of those who are victims and survivors of abuse. We pray for Mary Kearney, our new Diocesan Safeguarding Coordinator, for our Parish Safeguarding Representatives and all those who support this vital work in our communities.’
Follow this link for more information about Safeguarding Week throughout West Yorkshire and for details of how to sign up via Eventbrite. The week-long programme of over 40 sessions between 19 and 23 June caters for members of the public who want to learn more about safeguarding and covers topics such as modern slavery, sexual health, learning from national reviews, domestic abuse, suicide prevention and much more. (Although some events are open only to professionals working in the safeguarding sector, the majority are also open to the public.) Delivered by inspirational and motivational speakers who are experts in their field, these sessions have been designed to stimulate discussion, spark innovation, share best practice – and as a reminder to all that …
Safeguarding is Everybody’s Business!
Safeguarding really is everybody’s business, and anyone perceiving the danger of immediate or imminent harm to a child or vulnerable person should of course call the Police on 999 – but for all other concerns, queries or enquiries in the Diocese of Leeds, our Safeguarding Team has its own pages on the Diocesan Website and is available to provide advice and support whenever it is needed. Mary and Joanne are based at Hinsley Hall, 62 Headingley Lane Leeds LS6 2BX and may be contacted by telephone via 0113 261 8046 and by emailing email@example.com