An introduction to health and safety
For most churches, managing health and safety should not be complicated, costly or time consuming. Here are some tips and tools to help you get started.
Making sure that children and vulnerable adults are adequately protected is important for all churches. To support this, robust safeguarding arrangements are key.
The way safeguarding is managed will vary depending on the individual church but effective safeguarding is usually achieved through a number of key factors:
It is vital that those in senior positions promote the principles of safeguarding, acknowledging that the ultimate responsibility rests with them. The culture at your church should be one where safeguarding is taken seriously by all.
Knowing where to access appropriate advice, guidance and expertise on safeguarding matters when needed. For example, how to contact the District Safeguarding Officer.
There should be a written procedure developed for your church and implemented with all involved. This may be in the form of a safeguarding policy, outlining how children and vulnerable adults will be kept safe at the church and during any church activities.
Empowering staff who are properly trained on what to do, in an environment where people feel confident to report any concerns helps to instil a culture where safeguarding is taken seriously.
Selection and vetting procedures should include checks into the eligibility and the suitability of all trustees, staff and volunteers who have direct or indirect (e.g. helpline, email) contact with vulnerable people.
Having the knowledge and skills to recognise and report signs of abuse or inappropriate behaviour gives staff confidence to respond effectively and report and issues.
A safe and trusting environment is achieved by making sure that anyone who raises a suspicion, concern or allegation of abuse is respected, taken seriously and dealt with in a timely manner.
Close and regular review of your policy, staff training and control measures will ensure prompt action is taken as a consequence of any safeguarding issues that arise.
Accurate records should be kept of all policies, responsibilities, controls and reports. This is particularly important where referrals have to be made to a child protection or adult safeguarding agency. The records may be called upon to prove that they were compliant with regulations and guidance at the time of an alleged safeguarding incident.