Update from April’s National Safeguarding Steering Group, NSSG


The meeting began with an announcement by the chair, the Church’s lead safeguarding bishop, Jonathan Gibbs, that the contract for Zena Marshall, as interim national safeguarding director, has been extended to April 2022.

With the huge amount of change happening in safeguarding, this continuity of leadership was welcomed by all present.

The group was briefed on significant safeguarding items at the next day’s General Synod, namely the Safeguarding Code of Practice, the general update and ‘take note’ debate on the Church’s work post IICSA as well as a range of safeguarding items in the Questions session. 

Update from Interim Director of Safeguarding 

  • The Interim Support Scheme – governance arrangements are being firmed up and new Panel members recruited as the scheme moves from the pilot phase to full implementation.
  • Safe Spaces – new survivor board members have been recruited.
  • PCR2 – most dioceses are now making progress again as the lockdown has eased, with a. a briefing to all diocesan comms leads on the project progress.
  • Lessons Learned Reviews – two significant reviews have been published recently: the Scripture Union review into John Smyth and thirtyone:eight’s review commissioned by Emmanuel Church, Wimbledon (Jonathan Fletcher). The Church commissioned independent reviews into Smyth and Devamanikkam are due for publication later this year. The Deputy Director of Casework is collating the recommendations of all published reviews to identify common themes and develop an action plan to address the recommendations. This will be an important step in improvement and inform future change.
  • The Redress Scheme – a project board has been established.
  • The Independent Safeguarding Board – Adverts for Board members will be released w/c 26th April.
  • National Casework Management System – the procurement process has produced a recommended preferred provider. This will go to the Archbishops’ Council in May for ratification before a planned roll-out to dioceses.
  • Diocesan and Cathedral Safeguarding Advisers’ workshops – a series of events have been held, considering professional development needs and joint working practices. Going forward there is a monthly engagement programme planned.
  • Update from Independent Chair (Meg Munn) of the National Safeguarding Panel 
  • She had sat on the DSA workshops and commended the initiative.
  • The Panel is considering a networking and information sharing event when this is possible.
  • Panel sessions have considered the IICSA recommendations recognising the need to engage positively with those struggling with change to overcome resistance to the cultural change needed. 
  • The proposed changes to Clergy Discipline were reviewed and the recommendations made in 2019 re-visited noting a clear need for advocacy for the victim/survivor within the process and full investigation before processes commence. 
  • The Panel recommended the development of a professional standards framework to inform CDM matters. 
  • The Panel membership is changing as terms of office end, there will be a strategic review of work to date in June prior to a webinar event in July.
  • Budget update (from interim director) noting the need to address the significant programme of change. The need for additional investment in a number of areas was flagged:
  • Independent Safeguarding Board
  • Project Management of the response to the IICSA Recommendations
  • Implementation of the Redress Scheme
  • National Casework Management System
  • Regional Structure development
  • There was considerable discussion and the need for greater supporting detail was acknowledged as the budget process progresses.

Revised Safer Recruitment and People Management policy

The policy was tabled for discussion and approval noting the intention to bring Church standards up to those of other major organisations. Group members emphasised the need for careful and supportive implementation with the sizeable document being presented to dioceses and parishes in a more manageable and accessible form. It was adopted as policy with the proviso that further work would be done to clarify what would be required in different contexts, to assist with implementation especially at the parish level.

Revised National Safeguarding Learning and Development Framework. 

The Group was informed this is intended to be a clear pathway to show what good safeguarding training should look like. The training will be based on beliefs, values and behaviours desired for good safeguarding practice. Early use of the framework has received positive feedback from leaders in dioceses and cathedrals, which has also resulted in a number of changes, including in relation to maximum group size. There will be both in-person and on-line training options available in future.
It was noted that a Research and Evaluation Lead is to be appointed to implement a Standards Framework for Quality Assurance. This will focus on five key areas of best practice.

The Safe Spaces project has been operating successfully for six months and a brief update was given on its early stages. There is independent evaluation now in place for the project.

The group approved slightly revised Terms of Reference for the PCR2 Project Board to reflect the development of the final reporting process.

The group agreed to review its membership to ensure that the desired profile of key stakeholders was properly represented, particularly diocesan bishops.