First published on: 22nd October 2019

In September Andrew Grant (Asst DSA) and I attended a National Safeguarding Summit at York University.

The first day was facilitated by members of the national Survivors Reference Group.

They talked not only about their experience of reporting abuse within the Church of England but also about their commitment and motivation to integrate the survivors voice into the life and work of the church.

They are passionate about improving safeguarding practice because they have had the experience of poor practice within the church. They want to feel valued and heard, included and appreciated, that their perspective matters and can help the church address past failings. They want the church to trust them and to engage in a meaningful dialogue with them.

In time there will be Regional Survivors Groups. A number of the members of the national Survivors Reference Group have contributed to a book call Letters to a Broken Church edited by Janet Fife and Gilo. Janet was one of the first women to be ordained in the Church of England and is a writer, survivor and completed a research degree in the pastoral care of survivors. Gilo is a survivor, hymn writer and outsider theologian. The book is published by Ekklesia.

The main message of the 33 letters is that the churchs structures, leadership, practices and culture must change radically in order to face up to the historic scale of abuse within its institutions at all levels. They call for transparency and accountability after the decades of evasion and denial. The book isnt an easy read but it is an essential read for everyone committed to learning from the past in order to improve the future.

If you might be interested in helping this diocese ensure the survivors voice is heard we would be pleased to hear from you.

Ruth and Andrew can be contacted about this and any other safeguarding concern you might have by phone or email. 07825 167016 and 07741 633670.

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