August 2022 - letters to Church Times from Chair of Redress Board, and Survivor and Victim Working Group
In 2018 and 2019, the Church of England appeared three times before the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (or IICSA), which examined the response of the Church to allegations of child sexual abuse. Following these hearings, the Church’s General Synod committed to a more victim and survivor-centred approach to responding to the needs of all kinds of survivors of all types of church-related abuse. This includes making arrangements to provide redress, which was part of the Church’s commitment to implementing the recommendations from the IICSA report, published in October 2020.
Recommendation 7 of IICSA reads:
- The Church of England and the Church in Wales should each introduce a Church wide policy on the funding and provision of support to victims and survivors of child sexual abuse concerning clergy, Church officers or those with some connection to the Church.
- The policy should clearly set out the circumstances in which different types of support, including counselling, should be offered.
- It should make clear that support should always be offered as quickly as possible, taking into account the needs of the victim over time.
- The policy should take account of the views of victims and survivors. It should be mandatory for the policy to be implemented across all dioceses.
The Church is currently in the process of developing national proposals for redress which aim to include financial compensation, psychiatric, therapeutic, spiritual and emotional support, acknowledgment of wrongdoing on the part of the Church, apology and support for rebuilding lives. All of these aspects are currently being considered by teams and survivors within the National Church Institutions’ (NST) Safeguarding Programme.
In accordance with the Church’s response to IICSA’s recommendations, a Victim and Survivor Working Group has been set up and operates at the heart of this process of development. The members of this group - seven survivors – work with a project team to provide essential input to the creation of the Scheme. The group’s purpose is to ensure that the voices of victims and survivors are heard and given appropriate weight throughout the development of the Scheme and to ensure the project maintains this focus in all aspects of its work.
The Group meets on a regular basis to work on the development of the Scheme and will continue to do so throughout the term of the project.
Governance structures, project management and policy development are being carried out under the direction of a Project Board, whose members include senior officers of the Church’s national institutions, bishops, the Church Commissioners and two survivor representatives of the Working Group who are full members of the board.
The Redress Scheme will continue to be developed over the course of 2022.
If you are a survivor of Church of England-related abuse and are in need of urgent or immediate support, please take a look at the Interim Support Scheme.
If you would like additional support, you can also contact Safe Spaces, which is a free and independent support service, providing a confidential, personal and safe space for anyone who has been abused by someone in the Church or as a result of their relationship with the Church of England.
There is also Survivors Voices, a survivor-led organisation that runs peer support groups for victim-survivors of all kinds of abuse, including faith-based abuse. It has a newsletter and other special events for survivors of abuse experienced in churches and other faith-based communities.