Children and vulnerable adults are the focus of a new forum which aims to ensure that all churches in Wales are safe places for them.
The Welsh Christian Safeguarding Forum (WCSF) is a cross-denominational group of the leading safeguarding practitioners working for churches throughout Wales. It has been set up to help share and develop best practice and also to give Christian organisations a stronger voice on safeguarding issues in Wales.
Also on the Forum are representatives from the Churches Child Protection Advisory Service (CCPAS) and the Minister and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors group (MACSAS).
In order to ensure it is fully representative of Christians in Wales, the Forum has begun an engagement project with Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) churches and communities throughout the country. It is also seeking to develop strong links with the Inter-faith Council for Wales, the Welsh Assembly Cross Party Working Group on Faith and, in a UK context, with the Churches Forum for Safeguarding.
Elaine Cloke, head of safeguarding for the Church in Wales, said, “The Church in Wales is doing all it can to ensure churches are safe places for children and all vulnerable people and we welcome the Forum as a chance to strengthen our work and share good practice with other denominations – particularly in how we respond to survivors of abuse. All the safeguarding officers have shown enthusiasm and commitment to the Forum and we all hope it will give us a stronger voice to lobby the Welsh Government on those areas of safeguarding which are devolved – the quantity and complexity of which have increased rapidly over the past few years.”
Simon Plant, a CCPAS associate, is chair of the WCSF. He said, “We are delighted that the WCSF has been established with a fantastic commitment from all major denominations, the engagement of BAME churches being a main priority. Especially significant is its co-ordinated approach to safeguarding across the country, including promoting and sharing best practice in every major denomination. This will, I am sure, make a major contribution to keeping potentially at-risk children, vulnerable adults and abuse survivors much safer, both in the churches they attend and within other Christian bodies and communities.”