Message from Right Revd Mark Wroe, Acting Bishop of Newcastle
“This was the most extensive review of past safeguarding cases ever conducted in the Church of England and I welcome the report.
“I am grateful to all those who have engaged with this process which is part of our shared commitment to making our churches safer spaces for everyone.
“We committed to implementing the report’s recommendations for the Diocese of Newcastle and completed our Action Plan in May 2022. I commend this report to you.”
An Introduction from Jackie McHanwell, Independent Chair, Diocesan Safeguarding Advisory Panel
This is the summary of a significant piece of work undertaken in the Diocese of Newcastle to review past cases of alleged abuse within church settings. It was undertaken as part of the national Past Cases Review 2 process and this local report contributes to the overall understanding and learning about safeguarding within the Church. This report therefore marks an important step along the pathway to embedding a positive safeguarding culture in the Diocese of Newcastle.
We acknowledge that things sometimes went wrong in the past, that people who should have been safe and protected within a church setting sometimes were not, and that sometimes the response of the Church in not accepting that abuse had occurred, was in itself felt by victims as further abuse and counter to the healing and restorative process we want to see. We are truly sorry for that and are working hard to make it a thing of the past.
We have considered the findings of the report and have acted on all the recommendations. It is our practice now, should cases of potential abuse be identified, firstly to act swiftly according to the Church’s practice guidelines, but secondly to commission a Lessons Learned Review of all such cases. This is part of our attempt to continually improve how we recognise and respond to allegations of abuse.
Victims and survivors are at the centre of our thinking. We have been so fortunate to have a number of survivors of church-based abuse who have shown the courage and the determination to work with us to make a real difference in the here and now. We have learnt much from them about how the Church might prevent abuse and support those who have been abused. We hope that now, in this diocese, the journey we’re on to embed a strong safeguarding culture across the diocese is bearing fruit. You can see an example of the work that survivors have led to push this forward at If I Told You.
Publishing this report is an honest attempt to be open about past failings. We are so sorry for those times when have not got things right and for the harm and damage caused. We do not underestimate the impact caused.
If you feel that you, or someone you know, may have been or is being abused within a church setting, please do contact the Diocesan Safeguarding Officer, Carol Butler, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you do not feel comfortable with that option, you might contact Safe Spaces.
You will be listened to.
If you or anyone you are in contact with are affected by the publication of this report and want to talk to someone independently please call the Safe Spaces helpline on 0300 303 1056 or visit www.safespacesenglandandwales.org.uk
Safe Spaces: an independent service supporting survivors of church-related abuse offering support to survivors of church-related abuse whether or not a report has been made. This independent service is run by the charity Victim Support and funded by the Church of England together with the Catholic Church in England and Wales and the Church in Wales. It is free to access via telephone, email or web-chat.
Tel: 0300 303 1056 Helpline open Monday – Friday, 9 – 5, with late opening until 7pm on Tuesdays.
WebChat - via the Safe Spaces website
We understand reporting abuse may be very difficult and distressing to you and it may add to your hurt if we are not able to immediately assist you. Therefore here are the contact details of other agencies that are available to assist either on a 24-hour basis or through specialist helplines and services:
- Child-line: 0800 1111 (lines free and open 24 hours). Phone if you are a child or young person and are worried about anything.
- National Domestic Violence Helpline: 0808 2000 247 (lines free and open 24 hours). Phone if you are experiencing domestic abuse.
- Samaritans Helpline: 116 123 (open 24 hours). Phone if you feel you are struggling to cope and need someone to talk to.
- Action on Elder Abuse Helpline: 080 8808 8141 ( free phone Monday to Friday 9-5pm).
- National Rape Crisis Helpline: 0808 802 9999 and is open every day from 12-2.30pm and 7-9.30pm.
- The National Safeguarding Team: email@example.com
More information can be found on the national Church of England website.