30 July 2015, The Tablet

Safeguarding body announces partnership with survivors

A panel of survivors of clerical abuse is to be set up to help put the voice of the victims at the heart of the work of the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission (NCSC).

The creation of the new panel was described this week by the commission’s acting chairman Christopher Pearson as an important new development. “It will significantly inform and influence the work of the NCSC and help improve the Church’s pastoral support for those hurt by abuse,” he said.

The panel will have an independently-appointed chairperson and those hurt by abuse will make up the majority of the membership.

“It will be a real partnership between the commission and survivors,” he added.

In its annual report published this week, the NCSC said the membership of the panel would include individuals with direct personal experience of abuse by Catholic clergy or Religious, as well as a parent of an abused child.

Outgoing NCSC chairman Danny Sullivan said he believed the forthcoming independent inquiry into child sexual abuse in England and Wales would involve “real challenges” for the Church, as for other institutions. He believed the one area where the Church would be most challenged would be in listening to and meeting survivors where there had not been “consistently good practice”.

Following an audit of diocesan websites and the realisation that the accessibility of safeguarding information on them was inconsistent, the NCSC said in its report that it is developing a national safeguarding communication strategy.

In his report Adrian Child, who was director of the Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Service from 2008 until earlier this year, said his tenure had seen ever-increasing levels of expertise and professionalism of staff in the Church’s safeguarding offices. In addition, he had “witnessed at close hand the burgeoning understanding within the church hierarchy, its bishops and congregational leaders, of the importance and centrality of safeguarding within the Church in order to live the values and principles inherent on the mission of the Church and be witness to the message of the gospels”.

The report documents other developments over the last year including an e-learning package on child protection that means every member of the Catholic community can access safeguarding information free of charge; a learning pack on safeguarding for seminaries; and a training programme for priests and Religious, and parish safeguarding representatives.

Read the report in full.

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