Presbyterians Launch Guidelines on Adult Safeguarding
The Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) is to launch its Guidelines on Adult Safeguarding. This takes place at ‘Taking Care Of All’, a special conference in Belfast on Thursday, 15th March 2018. This is to raise awareness of safeguarding those over the age of 18. The Church will also use the event to send out a clear message to the denomination that adult safeguarding is everybody’s business.
Organised by the Church’s Council for Social Witness, the Conference is for ministers, elders, pastoral visitors, staff and volunteers who are involved in any church run activity where adults are involved. This can include activities that range from sporting events to lunch clubs for example, to Alpha and Christianity Explored courses.
The new Guidelines and Policy are aimed at those who are 18 and over and are vulnerable and at risk of harm. Speaking about the forthcoming event, council secretary Lindsay Conway said,
“As Christians Jesus gave us the imperative to love one another and care for one another. With this at the heart of who we are, the key message I want people to understand about safeguarding and take home from this conference is that safeguarding is everybody’s business.
The Church has a duty to protect all who are members or participate in the life and work of our church community from children and young people to those who are over 18. As safeguarding is everybody’s business and should be an integral part of congregational life, it shouldn’t be seen as another burdensome policy, but as the living out of the Gospel imperative to love and care for one another.
The Northern Ireland Executive’s Adult Safeguarding Policy, which PCI, along with other churches and faith groups helped to develop, moved away from the concept of ‘vulnerability’ towards establishing the concept of ‘risk of harm’ in adulthood,” he explained.
“It is important therefore to understand that we are not just talking about older adults who are vulnerable, or adults with a physical or learning disability, but everyone over the age of 18 who is at risk of harm from abuse, exploitation or neglect and that could be someone just out of hospital, or who is suffering from depression.”
PCI’s Guidelines on Adult Safeguarding will be launched at the ‘Taking Care Of All’ conference on 15th March 2018.
The conference is an important event for PCI and will hear from two keynote speakers working in this field.
Joyce McKee, programme manager for adult services with the Health and Social Care Board and Veronica Gray, director of Action on Elder Abuse (AEA) Northern Ireland.
Speaking ahead of the conference, Joyce McKee, who is also an elder in Hillsborough Presbyterian Church said,
“I am delighted that PCI is demonstrating both its commitment to vulnerable members of our community and leadership in helping congregations respond to this very challenging area of work.
Issues of domestic and sexual violence in the media in recent weeks have also highlighted the need to be clear about the fact that we as a denomination will not tolerate abuse, neglect or exploitation of adults in any setting.
It is vital that individuals and congregations know how to recognise the signs of abuse, how and when to refer someone to social services for support and assistance and how we as Christians can work to prevent abuse occurring in the first place.”
Veronica Gray of Action on Elder Abuse said that her organisation estimates that 8% of older people in Northern Ireland are affected by abuse, most often perpetrated by family members, or close relatives.
“We are looking at a serious and widespread problem, which everyone should take responsibility for preventing and reporting. At ‘Taking care of all’, AEA Northern Ireland will outline the nature and scale of elder abuse here and the support available from the charity for anyone at risk or concerned about an older person,” she said.
Lindsay Conway concluded by saying,
“Together with Taking Care, our well-established child protection programme, we believe that our Adult Safeguarding policy and accompanying guidelines are an essential development for PCI and will improve safeguarding arrangements for adults ensuring that across the Presbyterian Church in Ireland we create an environment where adults are at a reduced risk of harm, abuse or exploitation.”
The ‘Taking Care Of All’ conference takes place on Thursday, 15th March 2018 in Assembly Buildings, Belfast from 10:30 am to 3:00pm. You can register for the conference on the PCI website here.