Churches make safeguarding pledge in response to abuse scandals

(Photo: Unsplash/Andrew Seaman)

Churches are taking a pledge to be part of a movement of change in safeguarding culture following a number of abuse scandals. 

The launch of the Safer Places pledge by independent safeguarding charity Thirtyone:eight follows a succession of investigations and reports into failings by churches to protect children and vulnerable adults.

The pledge commits churches to standing in solidarity with abuse survivors and commits them to taking tangible steps towards ensuring a safe environment. 

Thirtyone:eight is encouraging not only church leaders to sign the pledge, but anyone who works or serves in a Christian faith setting. 

Launching the pledge this week, the charity said that the response to abuse from organisations and those in positions of leadership had often been "poor". 

Justin Humphreys, CEO of Thirtyone:eight, said that while apologies were important, action was needed.

"As an organisation, Thirtyone:eight has been working in the area of safeguarding for more than 40 years, and although we have seen much change, it does not get any easier especially in the face of such appalling stories. At the same time, it gives us a renewed conviction that things must change," he said.

"Apologies and learning lessons are important steps in the process of responding to abuse, but too often that is where we stop. We must not just take responsibility, and learn lessons, but make active, tangible, timely steps towards change and encourage others to do the same.

"As a Christian, I must fight for the church and pursue what is right and just. I believe that change begins with me choosing to be the change I want to see. I would encourage everyone who has been moved by what they have seen, read and heard in recent months to join me in making this pledge and living it out courageously."

In signing the Safer Places Pledge, Christians promise to:
Speak up
Put survivors first
Conceal nothing
Take responsibility
Make change happen
Hold each other accountable

Dr Joe Aldridge, patron of Thirtyone:eight and part of Churches Together in England, said that the pledge would help to create a culture of accountability.

"Many churches are now aware of the requirement for good safeguarding policy and practice, and work hard to have these in place and functioning," he said. 

"However, there is a way to go to be satisfied that all churches are, as they should be, safe places for all. I see this pledge as a positive commitment to overcome whatever challenges churches face to establish and maintain a culture of the highest safeguarding practices.

"By signing up to the Safer Places Pledge we are committing our churches to address these challenges, holding each other mutually accountable to make whatever changes are necessary be they personal, organisational or cultural."

Individuals and organisations can sign up to the pledge at: