The meeting of the National Safeguarding Steering Group was held by Zoom on 8thSeptember due to continued Covid restrictions.
A budget update was given including support from the NSSG for funding to be agreed for a Regional Safeguarding Model pilot. This will take the form of two projects, one working directly with regions and one developed centrally to embed consistency, share good practice, implement quality assurance and nationally agreed standards. The regional pilots which are hoped to commence in May 2021.
There was discussion on safeguarding training, particularly the Leadership Pathway. Delivery has started and there has been some very positive feedback with good news stories along with some concerns about the resource time to deliver the modules. There are continued conversations with diocesan colleagues to evaluate impact including looking at how it affects those with PTO.
A consultation paper was tabled about a Pilot Interim Support Scheme to provide help to survivors of abuse pending the full implementation of the Redress Scheme. The Pilot Scheme would be delivered through an independent mechanism. There is further work needed to develop the concept. It was agreed that work should continue and be referred to the Archbishops Council and Church Commissioners for budget provision to be made.
It was noted that the governance of the NSSG needs to be updated including the Terms of Reference. Revised proposals will be developed for presentation to the November meeting.
There was discussion of remuneration of survivors for their input as consultant to a range of safeguarding work. The proposals tabled were supported by the NSSG who noted the importance of survivor input.
There was an update on management of communication about the significant number of high-profile matters that have happened or are due to happen soon. The guiding principles that are applied: transparency, survivor focus and fairness and balance to all parties, were accepted as the correct approach. A letter written to the Charity Commission, response from the lead bishop and the IICSA report into the CofE due to published on October 6 were discussed in more detail.
Because of the effect of Covid on General Synod business, support was requested to ensure the agreed “Due Regard” provision is fully enacted in the promised timescale is still achieved.
Meg Munn, independent chair of the National Safeguarding Panel, NSP, reported on the positive progress made in the NSP’s view on the NST’s business plan and recommendations made by the Panel in a number of areas. A further discussion was held about prevention of abuse.
The news was welcomed that the Safe Spaces project, a vital support service for survivors of church-related abuse, will be launched by Victim Support in late September. The project to implement a national casework management system is progressing, A review of existing compatible products indicates that the system may not need to be built from scratch.