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Safe from Harm Policy

Stoneleigh Methodist Church (SMC) aims to safeguard from harm the young people within its care and the adults working with them. All must be protected from physical, sexual and emotional harm. This policy has been adopted by SMC, and all adults working with children on Church premises must ‘sign-up’ to it and be approved by our Church Council.

Appointment of workers/leaders with young people

  • An adult leader will normally be at least 15 years of age for work with younger children and 18 years of age for youth work.
  • All appointments are the responsibility of Church Council who must be satisfied with the candidates suitability for the role
  • All candidates must read ‘Safeguarding – the good practice for the church’ and be fully acquainted with the Policy and Code of Practice adopted by Church Council.
  • The Registration Form must be completed in all cases and a satisfactory reference obtained.
  • All leaders will be given a job description/letter of appointment which can be revised as the job changes.
  • All appointments will be for a probationary period of 3 months.
  • At the end of the probationary period the appointment may be confirmed by Church Council. If it is decided that the individual is not suitable for work with young people their talents should be directed towards more appropriate areas. The minister or Senior Steward must be advised so that pastoral care is made available for the individual.

Duties of Leaders working with Young People

  • To be fully acquainted with current good practice for working with young people.
  • To minimise the situations where harm or abuse to young people may occur
  • To ensure that at all times the care and safety of young people is of paramount importance.

Occasional Workers with Young People

Sometimes additional help may be required for activities like Holiday Club. Any helper not formally appointed by Church Council to work with young people must be known by the activity leaders. They should be provided with a letter setting out what is required of them and they must be asked to read the Safe From Harm Policy statement and the Code of Practice. A copy of the letter, which will contain a simple declaration confirming that the helper has never been convicted of a criminal offence or is the subject of current criminal charges, must be signed. These letters are to be passed to the Minister.

Action to be taken when abuse is suspected or alleged.

  • Keep a written record: dates, times, observations, verbatim speech.
  • Contact the Minister or in his/her absence the Senior Steward and together decide what action, if any, is to be taken.

If appropriate contact the Child Protection Officer at Social Services. In emergencies there is 24 hour coverage available from the Emergency Duty Social Work Team. Note the name of the person to whom you are speaking. Provide full details without filtering the information and follow advice given.

  • Start a confidential file recording all notes, conversations and advice received from Social Services.
  • If referred to Social Services the Superintendent Minister must be advised.
  • Do not discuss the case with the press or media; any approaches from them should be directed to the Minister.
  • Pastoral care must be available to all involved with the case.

Policy Application

  • This Policy and the accompanying Code of Practice applies to all church run groups involving young people.
  • Copies of the Policy Statement and the Code of Practice will be provided to uniformed organisations and other groups using our premises for work with young people, although they must follow any policy adopted by their own organisations.
  • The Policy Statement and Code of Practice are to be reviewed annually by the Family Committee and recommendations for change submitted to the Annual Church Council. In the event that no amendments are proposed this fact must also be reported to Church Council.
  • Family Committee are responsible for reissuing a copy of the Policy Statement and Code of Practice to every adult working with young people on Church premises if it is amended. Otherwise it should be reissued every three years.
  • A poster giving details of the Child Helpline (0800 1111) is to be displayed at all times in a prominent position in the main entrance corridor.
  • A clause to be inserted in the ‘Conditions of Hire’ whereby the hirer declares their familiarity with the Home Office Code of Practice, Safe from Harm.
  • A register of those accepted by the Church under this scheme, and those who have declared knowledge under the previous paragraph, to be kept in the vestry for the Stewards’ reference, and a copy made available to the premises booking secretary.

CODE OF PRACTICE

As an adult leader working with young people for the church you should always

  • respect everyone as an individual
  • set the example you want others to follow
  • be sensitive to the views and requirements of others
  • plan to have more than one adult present for all activities
  • be prepared to listen
  • follow the Policy and Code of Practice laid down by the church

You should not

  • tolerate abusive behaviour or bullying
  • show favouritism
  • engage in inappropriate conversations or physical contact with young people
  • make suggestive remarks or actions
  • assume that you will never be involved in a case of child abuse.

Recognising abuse and taking action

Cases of abuse whether physical, sexual, emotional or neglect will normally come to light through

  • disclosure by the young person
  • information from a third party
  • observation of unexplained injuries or change of behaviour

If you suspect a young person is being abused

  • keep calm
  • listen but do not question or investigate
  • do not challenge parents about your concerns
  • record all details which support your suspicions or information you have been given (include dates and times)
  • refer your concerns to the Minister and agree what action is appropriate
  • never agree to confidentiality as you must inform others, but be discrete with information

Always remember your principal concern is for the safety and well being of the young person.

Stoneleigh Methodist Church

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