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The Diocese of Southwark: Safeguarding

Diocesan Safeguarding Training Strategy 2017-18

The House of Bishops policies and practice guidance require dioceses to offer consistent training in safeguarding for clergy, and other diocesan officers including all those who hold the Bishop’s licence. Although there is no statutory requirement for this training, there is an expectation in Government Guidance that all staff, volunteers and office-holders know what to do should safeguarding situations arise. There may also be issues of insurance and vicarious liability should training opportunities not have been made available to parishes by the Diocese, together with robust encouragement to access it. The costs for this training are fully covered by the Diocese for diocesan officers and members of congregations in the Diocese.

A healthy Christian community is one which ensures and nurtures the wellbeing of all. Safeguarding needs therefore to be embedded in all aspects of the life and ministry of the Church, and safeguarding training and development is seen in this context. It is essential that churches understand safeguarding as a theological imperative, rooted in the nature and love of God, and outworking in basic commitments to giving equal worth to all, practising reciprocal pastoral care, and treating those who are most vulnerable with respect and dignity.


Training will be focused on building healthy communities with a culture of safety, in which the wellbeing of all is ensured and nurtured. Modules reflect the national requirements across all dioceses for ensuring healthy safeguarding practice, responding well to victims and survivors of abuse in the church context. They emphasise the need to work in co-operation with the Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser and with statutory agencies in all safeguarding matters. Training for all church roles will include safer working practices which emphasise the importance of maintaining proper boundaries and a culture of “respectful uncertainty”.

Although in the past, “safeguarding” was considered very much in the light of “Child Protection” it is now seen to have a much wider remit, addressing the needs not only of children and young people, but also of adults. In the church context, adult vulnerability may be identified through specific conditions, such as disability or ill health, or because of specific situations, for example because of the power imbalance between a priest and people for whom he or she has a duty of care. Within the Church, all are welcomed, including those who pose risk; and in most situations, church officers will be unaware of any risks posed. The Church is therefore uniquely challenged to provide a safe environment for all who attend, especially children and those who are vulnerable.

Minimal requirements

The Bishop of Southwark through acceptance of this House of Bishops Practice Guidance, has set minimum requirements for safeguarding training for ordained, licensed and other church officers. A “church officer” is anyone appointed by or on behalf of the Church to a post or role, whether they are ordained or lay, paid or unpaid.

Those requiring core training include:

  • All those who hold the Bishop’s licence, commission or permission to officiate (this includes Deacons, as part of IME; new incumbents/stipendiary clergy new to the Diocese, as part of CMD; non-Stipendiary Ministers; Readers; Commissioned Lay Pastoral Assistants, as part of training and post licensing/commissioning; those applying for Bishop’s Permission to Officiate
  • All Diocesan and Cathedral staff/volunteers
  • Children and youth workers employed or volunteering within the Diocese or in parishes
  • Parish Safeguarding Officers
  • Churchwardens
  • Anyone else who has significant contact through their role in the Church with children, young people or adults who may be vulnerable to abuse or exploitation, or who needs a DBS check in order to carry out their role for the Diocese or a parish.


A bishop may not license a reader or lay worker unless the bishop is satisfied that the candidate has undergone training relating to the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults. In addition, Working Together 2015, the government guidance on how organisations address child protection issues, sets out that “All staff should be given a mandatory induction, which includes familiarisation with child protection responsibilities and procedures to be followed if anyone has any concerns about a child’s safety or welfare”.

Evaluation and review

All courses will be based on those set as Core and Specialist Modules as part of the Safeguarding Training and Development Practice Guidance issued by the House of Bishops. A record of attendance will be kept by the Diocesan Safeguarding Team, and reminders sent to those who have not met minimum requirements.
The Strategy is evaluated, reviewed and adjusted annually in response to new legislation, policies and guidance as advised by the National Safeguarding Team, and feedback from previous training sessions.


Current courses

The annual training programme is set by the Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser, in consultation with the Diocesan Ministry and Training Team, the Safeguarding Reference Group and the Diocesan Bishop. Church officer training is delivered by the Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser or his/her Assistant, with support from recruited voluntary trainers, at accessible venues in the Diocese.
The following table lists courses available as part of the Diocesan Training Strategy for 2017/18. A range of training opportunities is provided, reflecting the needs of the target groups. Local, tailormade courses for deaneries or groups of parishes can be negotiated on request, to be delivered by voluntary parish trainers.
Attendance at courses must be booked in advance.




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