Photo: Roarry the thirtyone eight Safeuarding Sunday Lion joined Sunday Club at Rochester Cathedral
From puppets and drama sketches, to talks, prayers and videos, churches across the Diocese engaged creatively with Safeguarding Sunday this year.
Organised by the Christian charity, thirtyone:eight, Safeguarding Sunday, offers an opportunity each November – or at any time convenient - for churches to highlight and give thanks for all the work being undertaken to help keep people safe.
It’s also a chance for churches to remind congregations and the wider community, that safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility and that we all have a part to play in creating healthy, safer cultures.
Many churches, like St Edmund's King and Martyr in West Kingsdown, and the Parish of Holy Trinity South Chatham, used the comprehensive resources provided by Thirtyone:eight to help shape and guide their activities.
Meanwhile, St Martin’s Church, Ryarsh, performed a short sketch within their All Age Family Service service, followed by prayers led by the children from Stepping Stones Youth Group.
At St Nicholas Church Sevenoaks, there was a child-friendly talk on ‘speaking up’ and ‘raising your voice’ about any worries or concerns.
They also created a video which was played to the congregation explaining what actions the church is taking around safeguarding, who the safeguarding officer is, and what someone should do if they have a concern.
Everyone was then provided with a take-home memory verse sticker.
Photo: The safeguarding umbrella created in Farnborough
Many Parish Safeguarding Officers (PSO) took the opportunity to talk to their church congregations about their roles and how people could support them.
At Cuxton and Halling, PSO Laura reminded the church of the importance of taking safeguarding seriously and how it was everyone’s responsibility.
Irene Dancer, PSO at St Giles’ Church, Farnborough wrote a piece for her church’s magazine, website and pew sheet. This was followed up on the day with a lesson during the Senior Sunday school focussing on all the things that come under the umbrella of safeguarding, with the young people going on to make a poster to talk about and display in church.
During the service at St Pauls Beckenham, pieces of a photo of the PSO were hidden around the church for the children to find and make into a complete picture. They then had to go and find her in the congregation.
The Diocesan Safeguarding Team was also busy, with Greg Barry, Lead Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser, invited to St Peter’s Bexleyheath to talk about his role and the importance of safeguarding.
Photo:Diocesan Lead Safeguarding Adviser, Greg Barry (second right) joins the congregation of St Peter’s Bexleyheath
The church is now in the process of refreshing all of their display materials and resources to include child friendly support and guidance for adult support locally and nationally.
And at Rochester Cathedral, Roarry the Safeguarding Sunday lion, made a special visit to the Sunday Club for a time of singing, and to raise awareness of safeguarding in a fun and child-friendly way.
Archdeacon Andy Wooding Jones, Bishop’s Lead for Safeguarding, said:
“It is of course vital that we keep alert to our safeguarding responsibilities throughout the year, however, I am delighted to see not just the level of response, but also the many different and creative ways churches within the Diocese have engaged with Safeguarding Sunday this year.
“This can only be a positive sign of how awareness and culture around safeguarding is changing across the Church.
“While we all have a part to play in creating safer spaces, I want to say a huge ‘thank you’ to all those who take on a particular responsibility for safeguarding in our churches, and who work so hard to keep our worship and activities safe for all. Your dedication is so important and very much appreciated.”
Although Safeguarding Sunday is officially marked in November, it can be observed at any time, with some churches planning on observing the day in the new year.
Resources adaptable to any occasion are available on the thirtyone:eight website: www.thirtyoneeight.org/get-involved/safeguarding-sunday/