An independent review of all past safeguarding cases related to Church of England churches in the region wants to ensure that survivors’ voices are heard.
All dioceses nationally are taking part in the Church of England’s Past Cases Review 2 including the Diocese of Lichfield which is home to more than 500 churches in Staffordshire, Stoke-on-Trent, Shropshire and the Black Country.
Lichfield Diocese was also one of seven dioceses identified as needing to carry out further work to provide an updated and comprehensive version of the first Past Cases Review published in 2010.
Listening to the voices of people who survived abuse as adults or children is a vital element of the review.
Dawn Williams, the independent chair of Lichfield Diocese’s Safeguarding Scrutiny Committee, said:
“You may have suffered abuse in a church context and not felt able to come forward, or it may be that you did report abuse and would like to share how you felt your complaint was handled at the time. Possibly a member of your family was abused and you want to speak on their behalf. Whatever the circumstances, the Church wants to learn from your experience.
“We appreciate this may be a very difficult conversation to have so we guarantee you will be treated sensitively and can speak anonymously if you wish. You can talk directly to the independent review team or, if you prefer, an independent helpline.”
Independent reviewers, who have professional experience of safeguarding and are from outside the diocese, began the wide-ranging work in 2019, looking at files that span as far back as the 1960s. This includes all historic safeguarding case files, concerns raised by parishes during the review and all personnel files for current and retired clergy, plus others who have ‘permission to officiate’ at churches in the diocese, and lay church officers.
People who have information or experiences that may be relevant to the review should contact our Diocesan Safeguarding Team on 01543 306030 or email Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser Neil Spiring.
Recognising that this may not feel safe for those with a lived experience of abuse from within the church, a dedicated telephone helpline - 0800 80 20 20 - operated independently from the church, by the NSPCC, has been set up.
People can also contact the Safe Spaces helpline, run by Victim Support on 0300 3031056, or by emailing email@example.com
More details on Past Cases Review 2 are on the Church of England website.