An interview with our Parish Safeguarding Officer
Safeguarding Sunday, is an awareness-raising campaign organised by Christian safeguarding charity Thirtyone:eight. This took place on 20 November 2022.
We had intended to interview Ann Green, our Parish Safeguarding Officer, during our church services, unfortunately she was unwell at home. So instead, we thought we'd share the interview here.
We hope you enjoy getting to know Ann a bit better, and that you are equipped to pray for, and play your part in, helping Saint James to continue to be a safe place for all.
Saint James Hi Ann, tell us a little about yourself
Ann Green Well, I’ve been a Christian since my teenage years, I’ve been married to Graham for 32 years, I’m mum to three grown up sons and Nana to a 2 year old grandson. (We only do boys in our family)
I originally trained as a secondary school teacher but became a police officer – served 30 years in the Metropolitan Police in London, and now I’m retired.
I’ve been a member at Saint James since moving to Gerrards Cross in 1995. Graham and I attend The 11:00. Amongst other areas, I’ve served in the Youth Team, Children’s Team, ran Parenting courses and helped in the kitchen at Friendship lunches – as well as holding the post of Parish Safeguarding Officer for the last 6 years.
SJ Can you tell us a little bit about what safeguarding is?
AG It’s all about protecting vulnerable people in our church family – whether young or old – and is at the heart of the Christian message of justice and hope. There should be no room for abuse in any church.
It’s about promoting a safer environment and culture within our church community, safely recruiting and supporting all those with any responsibility related to children and vulnerable adults within the Church, responding promptly to every safeguarding concern or allegation, and caring pastorally for those who are the subject of concern including victims/survivors of abuse & also those that may pose a risk to others.
SJ What does the safeguarding officer do?
AG Firstly, it is an advisory and overseeing role. Some core responsibilities at the heart of the role for me include:
- Talking to and supporting anyone in church who has a safeguarding concern; often speaking to members of the staff team but also members of the church family,
- Responding well to any safeguarding concerns and reporting these to the Oxford Diocesan Safeguarding Advisor if appropriate,
- Monitor safeguarding activity within the church – ensuring we have the right policies, procedures and practices in place for our church activities; and that anyone working or volunteering in these ministry areas are safely recruited.
All of this means that we make sure we follow the Church of England administrative guidelines when we recruit a church family member to serve on a ministry team with our children and young people or with vulnerable adults. Its not just a case of putting your hand up to serve and joining the team. There are background police checks made, references asked for and safeguarding training to complete to back up a person’s desire to serve.
I ensure the church safeguarding policy is up to date and reflects Church of England guidance. Our policy clearly outlines our responsibilities and procedures and can be found on the church website.
I also regularly report to the Clergy and Leadership Team, with Safeguarding being a standing item on the PCC meeting agenda.
SJ How can we all be involved?
Safeguarding is everyone’s business because God is in the business of drawing close to the weak. As God will lift up those who need his help, we are called to draw alongside the vulnerable among us.
We are all accountable. Jesus called us to love our neighbours as ourselves.
You only have to read the newspapers to see where in this country we have fallen way short of looking after our church families as God would wish us to.
As a parish community we are on a journey to establish best practice and ensuring the highest safeguarding standards are maintained to make our church a safer place for everyone.
If we are serving in an area involving vulnerable adults or children, it is our responsibility to ensure our safeguarding training is up to date. Don’t wait for the nudge from your ministry leaders.
SJ What do I do if I’ve got a concern about something?
AG The first rule is, don’t keep it to yourself. If you see or hear something that you don’t think is ‘right’, then speak to either me, or Matt, or one of the Ministry Team.
You may be the first person to raise a possible issue, but so many concerns in the past have never been talked about, only to become newspaper headlines in the future.
I can reassure you that most concerns are resolved without involving the Diocese or outside agencies but where required, I will liaise with the Diocese, social services or police. Please be assured of my confidence and discretion where needed and I will always seek advice from the Diocese where it is required.
My contact details, our safeguarding policy and recommended reporting procedures can all be found via the Safeguarding link at the bottom of every page of the website.
My prayer is that Saint James is a safe place for everyone.
My role is to ensure we strive towards that goal.