Preamble – Kindness comes first…..
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, 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 what we have positively termed as ‘extreme kindness’. Encompassing basic safeguarding practice, extreme kindness also includes proactive consideration of their holistic needs, requiring our intentional kindness, wisdom and love. We want to be trusted, hope filled people that young people can lean on. We undertake this responsibility in the sure hope that the teenager’s lives can be wonderfully transformed by God’s love.
We express extreme kindness by prioritising our relationships with them. Not only do we aim to be rigorous in our safeguarding practice, but we also commit ourselves to be reflective – ensuring that we have the flexibility to creatively respond to the issues the young people bring to us.
We aim to foster a culture where our whole church, young people and adults, have confidence to seek help and guidance where necessary. For us to be extremely kind to young people, we know we need to be kind to one another. 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 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 work together to express extreme kindness, including keeping our young people safe. 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.
National reports frequently remind us of the poor mental health of young people and the unimaginable difficulties and pressures they face. We are a church in the centre of Reading, a town which is home to many, many vulnerable teenagers. Our aim is that this building and the relationships formed within it are a sanctuary for these precious young lives.
At St 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
Chris West, Youth Work Director
Our Youth Work Director is the first person to speak to, if you have any concerns whatsoever around the welfare of a child, young person or adult.
If you would prefer to speak with someone outside the church:
John Nixson, Oxfordshire Diocesan Safeguarding Officer
01865 208 290