The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal 5:22).
Saint Laurence is a church that lives to see the young people of Reading come to faith. We engage with young people through schools work, our youth club, small groups, holiday activities, residentials, church services and mentoring.
However, more than this, we are family. We add up to more than the sum of our activities and programmes. We bring our own individual shapes to this community and expect the young people to shape us too. Like family, we all need each other in different ways, at different times. We want every church member to be part of the welcome that we offer young people.
We take our responsibility for the pastoral care of our young people seriously. We seek to express our commitment to them through kindness. For us, kindness doesn't just mean good safeguarding practice, but being willing to walk with them in their lived experience. We want to be trusted, hope filled people that young people can lean on. We undertake this responsibility in the sure hope that their lives can be wonderfully transformed by God’s love.
We aim to foster an inclusive culture, where our whole church, young people and adults, have confidence to seek help and guidance where necessary. We commit ourselves to being reflective – ensuring that we have the flexibility to creatively respond to anything the young people bring to us. We commit ourselves to work transparently. We are open to learning through appreciative enquiry: challenging each other with kindness. In the context of being family together, we are willing to be challenged and are prepared to change our individual and collective approaches in response to young people’s needs.
We frequently manage sensitive, pastoral issues. We recognise that we need to proactively work together to express kindness, in our relationships both inside and outside our church building. We seek to form constructive, respectful relationships with parents, families, foster carers, statutory services and other agencies. The welfare of the child is our paramount consideration in the conversations that we have and the actions that we take (Children Act 1989).
National reports frequently remind us of the poor mental health of young people and the unimaginable difficulties and pressures they face. Our local hospital has seen a significant rise in teenage A&E mental health admissions. We are a church in the centre of Reading, a town which is home to many vulnerable teenagers.
So our aim is that this building and the relationships formed within it are a sanctuary for these precious young lives. That we would lead them with cords of kindness to the One who made them and knows them. Our lived hope is, that their lives will be transformed through encounter with Jesus, who loves them so much, He gave His life for them.
I led them with cords of human kindness,
with ties of love.
To them I was like one who lifts
a little child to the cheek,
and I bent down to feed them.
At Saint Laurence, we take seriously our shared responsibility of ensuring the safeguarding of our children, young people and vulnerable adults. Every person has a value and dignity. Christians see this potential as fulfilled by God’s re-creation of us in Christ. This implies a duty to value all people as bearing the image of God and therefore to protect them from harm.
We commit ourselves to nurture, protect and safeguard all our members, particularly children, young people and vulnerable adults.
We recognise that safeguarding is the responsibility of the whole church community. We seek to offer adequate support and training to church members, developing their capacity to recognise and appropriately respond to any signs of abuse and neglect.
We undertake to exercise proper care in the selection and appointment of those working in both paid and voluntary positions with children or vulnerable adults, including the use of Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) disclosures.
We will respond without delay to concerns or allegations that a child or vulnerable adult may have been harmed, cooperating with the police and social care services in any investigation. We will ensure that we have clear reporting procedures in place.
We will challenge any abuse of power by anyone in a position of trust.
We will seek to offer informed pastoral care and support to anyone who has suffered abuse, referring them to appropriate agencies and community supports where necessary.
We will seek to find support, including supervision and referral to the proper authorities, for any member of our church community known to have offended against a child, young person or vulnerable adult. We will support them in finding an alternative, nurturing church community, who has the capacity to provide them appropriate, focused and kind pastoral care.
In all these principles we will follow diocesan, statute and local guidance and recognised good practice.
The following policy was agreed at the PCC meeting held on 17th Jan 2017.
A copy of the Oxford Diocese Safeguarding Handbook can be found HERE
Amy is the first person to speak to, if you have any concerns whatsoever around the welfare of a child, young person or adult.
Amy is a registered social worker under the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and subject to their standards of conduct, performance and ethics. Her registration number is SW96874
Rev Chris RussELl
If you would prefer to speak with someone outside the church:
Oxfordshire Diocesan Safeguarding Officer
01865 208 290
Chaired by Abigail Macleod, the staff team have a regular safeguarding table meeting. Respecting confidentiality, we use this space for accountability, appreciative enquiry, reflection and learning. If there are any pressing safeguarding concerns requiring a team briefing and response, we call an extraordinary meeting of the safeguarding table. If you would like to understand more about how this team works, please contact Amy Sykes (details above).
Dr. Abigail Macleod is a senior paediatrician at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading.