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Safeguarding Statement & Policy

St John’s United Reformed Church Orpington is committed to the safeguarding of children and adults at risk, and to ensure their well being. We have both a Safeguarding Statement & Policy that are outlined below

Safeguarding Statement

We define safeguarding as the promotion of the safety and welfare of children and adults who are at risk of, or experiencing harm, abuse or neglect in all forms. We acknowledge children’s and adults’ right to protection from any form of abuse or neglect regardless of age, gender reassignment, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief, marriage/civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity. Therefore, as members and workers of the church, we are committed to:

  • the care and nurture of all children and adults
  • the safeguarding and protection of all children and adults at risk   
  • the establishment of a loving church environment which is safe and caring for all people and where the dignity of each person is respected
  • an informed vigilance about the dangers of all forms of abuse, harm and neglect within all aspects of work in the Church, and how to respond appropriately
  • ensuring everyone who engages with the life of the Church is responsible for keeping people safe
  • working together with voluntary/statutory agencies and other denominations and faith-based organisations.

We recognise that we all have a responsibility to help prevent any form of abuse and neglect of children and adults, and ensure the well-being and pastoral care of those who are or may be at risk.

We will prevent abuse for extremist or other purposes and put all suitable health and safety arrangements in place as well as safeguarding, first aid, fire safety and online safety policies that everyone understands.

We will create and maintain a safe and inclusive environment for all, especially children and adults at risk, in which the dignity and rights of each person are respected.

We believe that domestic abuse in all its forms is unacceptable and inconsistent with a Christian way of living and it can affect both adults and children.

We will always acknowledge that the welfare of the child and adult at risk is paramount, and that the priority is always to act in their best interests, following legislation, statutory guidance and recognised good practice guidance to enable them access to support and protection.

We will support everyone to ensure that as a place of worship all will work within the agreed procedures of our safeguarding policy. The Safeguarding Coordinator or the Deputy Safeguarding Coordinator (when available) are the persons to whom all concerns or allegations should be addressed for appropriate actions to be taken. In the absence of a Safeguarding Coordinator, the Synod Safeguarding Officer should be contacted. Their contact details will be always available in our posters, websites, or other communications with the public.

We will exercise proper care in the appointment and selection of trustees and those who will work with children or adults at risk within the Church, whether paid, volunteers, lay or ordained. We will ensure that trustees, staff and volunteers are suitable and legally able to act in their positions. We will use DBS/PVG checks as part of a wide range of checks on trustees, staff and volunteers to ensure that we have a broad and informed view to assist us in minimising the risk of abuse, harm or neglect.

We will support, supervise, resource and train all those who undertake work with children and adults in need of protection.

We will respond without delay to every concern, incident or complaint which suggests that a child or adult has been harmed, or is at risk of harm and cooperate with ecumenical partners, the Police, DO (the Designated Officer, formerly known as LADO), Local Safeguarding Boards (in Wales), Children’s Partnership Boards (formally Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards) and Children’s and Adult Social Care Services in any investigation, while maintaining confidentiality of any investigations to those directly involved.

We are committed to working with those who have suffered or suffer any form of abuse, offering appropriate pastoral support where possible as well as to challenging any abuse of power, especially where it involves someone in a position of trust.

We will manage risks and those who might pose a risk to the welfare of people and the life of the Church and offer support to those known to pose a risk to children and/or adults, including supervision, referral to the appropriate agencies, and implementation of safeguarding contracts, when appropriate.

We are committed to ensuring that any allegations, concerns and complaints about abuse or neglect that we discover or suspect are recorded accurately, reported promptly and shared safely within and outside the denomination.

We will review our safeguarding policy, practices and procedures annually, considering lessons learned from safeguarding cases and changes in legislation, statutory guidance and good working practice.

We will ensure processes and practices in all aspects of safeguarding, including discipline, risk management, whistleblowing and bullying/harassment in alignment with Good Practice 5 – United Reformed Church’s Policy and Guidance in Safeguarding Children, Young People and Adults at Risk. 

Any local policy changes will be formally approved by the local church trustees.

St John’s United Reformed Church has appointed coordinators to be responsible for acting in matters of child protection and for adults at risk.  They can be contacted in confidence by completing the form at this link

Signed:    Church Secretary                                                                                                        Date:08 September 2022

(on behalf of the Elders at St John’s) St John’s United Reformed Church has appointed coordinators to be responsible for acting in matters of child protection and for adults at risk.

St Johns URC Safeguarding Policy

Important notice

(This document is supported by the following seven main appendices, all can be found on the URC website or by request from our safeguarding team)

A1 – Safeguarding policy statement 
A2 – The role of a Safeguarding Co-ordinator
A3 – Code of conduct for working with children or young people
A4 – Code of conduct for working with adults at risk
A5 – Safeguarding incident recording form 
A6 – Signs and symptoms of abuse 
A7 – Guidance on safeguarding for Local Ecumenical Partnerships

All appendices can be found here:

Or ask a member of the safeguarding team

Aim and purpose of this policy

The aim of this policy is to ensure that protecting people from abuse, harm or neglect is central to our culture. It provides procedures for promoting safeguarding, preventing abuse and protecting children, adults at risk and staff. This includes clear procedures for taking appropriate action when safeguarding concerns are raised involving children and adults within our church, or those who attend our activities and events. All information found within the larger document is available on request or via the URC Safeguarding website.

Who this policy applies to

This policy is approved and endorsed by the Elders and affects everyone and all events held within St John’s Church (where another safeguarding policy is not in place) :

– The policy will be accepted and endorsed by the church members within a church meeting.

– This policy will be placed at all entrances to our building and available for anyone to take or read a copy.

– All ‘safely recruited’ volunteers and staff will be given a copy and sign to confirm they have read the contents.

It is expected that any safeguarding incidents/disclosures/concerns will be handled in accordance with this policy (with further details in (Good Practice 5)

The values and safeguarding principles within the United Reformed Church are described in Appendix A1. The policy and procedures should be interpreted in accordance with these principles and the most recent URC good practice guidance. Children, parents/carers, adults at risk and those responsible for safeguarding them will be informed of this policy and our procedures.


The term ‘children’ refers to those under the age of 18 years.

The term ‘adult at risk’ refers to any adult aged 18 or over who, by reason of mental or other disability, age, illness or other situation, are permanently, or for the time being, unable to take care of themselves, or to protect themselves against significant harm, abuse or exploitation. 

Duty of care and confidentiality

We have a duty of care to all beneficiaries of the church, whether adults, children or young people. We will always maintain confidentiality, except in circumstances where to do so would place the individual or another individual at risk of harm or abuse.

Preventing abuse

The church has/will appoint Safeguarding and Deputy Safeguarding Coordinator(s) for safeguarding children and adults. A job/role description is in (Appendix A2)

Activities will be organised in accordance with the URC’s safeguarding policy and guidance to promote a safe environment and healthy relationships, whilst minimising opportunities for harm, misunderstanding or false accusation. For each event, risk assessments will be carried out,

Appropriate and accessible consent forms will be used (for children’s activities or activities for people with special needs), appropriate records will be kept, and adequate insurance will be
in place.

We are committed to safer recruitment and selection of all paid staff and volunteers with emphasis on those in regulated activities. We will treat applicants who have a criminal record fairly and do not discriminate because of a conviction or other information revealed (see Appendix D for the church policy statement on the recruitment of ex-offenders) and ensure that all safer recruitment-related procedures are followed, which include:

  • asking applicants to complete an application form
  • providing workers with job or role descriptions and person specifications
  • completion of self-declaration forms
  • obtaining Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) / Protecting Vulnerable Groups scheme (PVG) checks for eligible roles and positions
  • taking up two references (not from family members or St John’s attendees)
  • interviewing candidates
  • providing workers/volunteers with adequate and desired training opportunities

All trustees, paid staff and volunteers will work within a code of conduct (code for workers attached as Appendices A3 and A4 depending on the vulnerable group) and understand that there may be action taken if this code is not followed, possibly involving suspension or the termination of people’s service.

If we become aware of someone within our congregation known to have harmed or harm children or adults, we will inform the Church Safeguarding Coordinator or Synod Safeguarding Officer within 24 hours and co-operate with them and the relevant statutory authorities to put in place a plan to minimise the risk of harm to children, young people and adults.

When any church premises are let to an external, informal group or individual, those hiring the premises should hold and abide by their own safeguarding policy. If a hirer does not have a policy, they must abide by the church’s own safeguarding policy, a copy of which should be made available. Each hiring body is required to ensure that children and adults at risk are always protected by taking all reasonable steps to prevent injury, illness, loss or damage occurring.

How to recognise abuse

It is important to be aware of possible signs and symptoms of abuse. Appendix A6 provides definitions of different forms of abuse and further help and guidance. Some signs could be indicators of several different categories of abuse.

It is essential to note that these are only indicators of possible abuse. There may be other, innocent, reasons for these signs and/or behaviour. There might be domestic abuse that requires a different approach (please see Appendix R). The indicators will, however, be a guide to assist in assessing whether abuse of one form or another is a possible explanation for a child or adult’s behaviour.

Church workers and members will also pay attention to online safety and their electronic communications with children and adults. Grooming and abuse of any form can occur offline
(both physically and verbally) and online. Appendix C includes an acceptable use policy in relation to the use of church computers by both workers and children and provides sample forms which children and workers could be asked to sign.

What to do if there is a disclosure or allegation of abuse

If a child, young person or adult makes a disclosure that they are being abused and/or have been abused, it is important that the person being told:

  • stays calm and listen carefully
  • reassures them that they have done the right thing in telling someone
  • does not investigate or ask leading questions
  • explains that they will need to tell someone else if anyone is at risk of harm, in order to help them
  • does not promise to keep secret what they have been told
  • informs the church Safeguarding Coordinator within 24 hours (if they are implicated in the allegation, inform the Deputy or the Synod Safeguarding Officer)
  • makes a written record of the allegation, disclosure or incident and signs and dates this record (using the template in Appendix A5). This should be given to the church Safeguarding Coordinator or the Synod Safeguarding Officer and stored securely in a locked filing cabinet.

Procedure in the event of a concern of abuse

If there is an immediate threat of harm, the Police should be contacted without delay.

Where it is judged that there is no immediate threat of harm the following will occur:

  • The concern should be discussed with the Church Safeguarding Coordinator or the Synod Safeguarding Officer within 24 hours and a decision needs to be made as to whether the concern warrants a referral to statutory authorities
  • A confidential record will be made of the conversation and the circumstances surrounding it using the template at Appendix A5. This record will be kept securely, and a copy passed to statutory authorities if a referral is made
  • The person about whom the allegation is made must not be informed by anyone in the church if it is judged that to do so could place a child or adult at further risk. If the statutory authorities are involved, they should be consulted beforehand
  • The Synod Safeguarding Officer should be kept informed of any serious concerns and referrals to police and statutory authorities.

If something is disclosed to you this policy explains the correct way to handle a disclosure in the moment. After the disclosure check this policy to find out what to do next.

Prior to any referral to children’s services, the child’s wishes and rights should be considered when determining what action to take. There should also be a verbal consultation with local
authority’s children’s services to ensure that making a referral is an appropriate action. The parent/carer will normally be contacted to obtain their consent before a referral is made. However, if the concern involves, for example alleged or suspected child sexual abuse, domestic abuse, Honour Based Violence, fabricated or induced illness, or the Synod Safeguarding Officer has reason to believe that informing the parent at this stage might compromise the safety of the child or a staff member, nothing should be said to the parent/carer ahead of the referral, but a rationale for the decision to progress without consent should be provided with the referral.

In the case of referrals to adult social care or other services for adults at risk, information should be shared with consent if the adult has capacity within the meaning of the Mental Capacity Act and if this does not place the referrer, them or others at an increased risk. A person’s right to confidentiality is not absolute and may be overridden where there is evidence that sharing information is necessary to support an investigation or where there is a risk to others. See
section 14 of Good Practice 5 for further advice and guidance.

If the allegation is regarding a church staff member or church volunteer

If someone in the church is alleged or known to harm/have harmed children or adults, it is essential to inform the Synod Safeguarding Officer so that they can offer advice and support.

For any concerns relating to children, the Designated Officer (previously known as LADO will be contacted. The timing and method of any action to be taken will be discussed and agreed with the Designated Officer. This will cover communication with the worker, suspension, investigation and possible strategy meetings. A decision will be taken by the DO about when to inform the worker and the church will follow this advice. the DO contact details can be found at the end of this policy.

For concerns relating to adults, Adult Social Care will be contacted. Likewise, their contact details can be found at the end of this policy.

In accordance with the law, a referral needs to be made to the DBS / PVG for consideration of barring to share information about any individual in regulated activity where for safeguarding reasons the organisation has either terminated the employment, failed to appoint, or would have terminated the employment had the individual not moved on through resignation, retirement or re-deployment. In such cases, the synod safeguarding officer needs to be advised/informed.

Depending on the seriousness of incidents or allegations, a report to the Charity Commission will also need to be considered at the elders/trustees’ meeting, as they deem such a referral to be a ‘serious incident’ and require notification.

Managing those who may pose a risk to the welfare of people

The use of rigorous and careful supervision is paramount to protect people from the risks associated with known offenders within the congregation, including implementing safeguarding contracts with known or alleged offenders and those who have been assessed as posing a risk. Where it is known that someone has a caution or conviction for committing a sexual offence,
the church can play an important role in the prevention of further abuse by helping the offender to live an offence-free life.

If anyone is made aware that a person attending their church has been convicted of an offence against a child or has had an allegation of this nature made against them at any time, we immediately inform the Synod Safeguarding Officer and Minister or Interim Moderator. Note
that in Scotland, the Church of Scotland Safeguarding Service should be contacted.

It is important to provide known or alleged offenders with a group of people who will offer support, friendship and supervision. Following advice from the Synod Safeguarding Officer, when appropriate, a formal safeguarding contractwill be drawn up between the church, the person who is considered to pose a risk to the welfare of people in the church, and any statutory agencies when involved.


Safeguarding training will be provided and required by volunteers and paid staff. Each will be given support and supervision in their role. All relevant staff members and volunteers will receive appropriate safeguarding training delivered by the synod or approved vendors. The Safeguarding Coordinator(s) should ensure that trustees/elders and people involved in regulated activities with children or adults (including Ministers, staff and volunteers) have undergone safeguarding training.

Concerns, Complaints and Compliments

Should anyone have any concerns, complaints or compliments please complete the form at this link

It would be helpful to have complaints in writing, as this avoids any possible misunderstanding about what the issue is. However, whether verbal or in writing, complaints will be acted upon.

Any written complaint will be responded to within 10 days from the date received.
Key Contacts: Sources of advice and support

  • The church Safeguarding Coordinator is the person to whom all concerns or allegations relating to children, young people or adults should be addressed:

In the absence of the either Safeguarding Coordinator, the other safeguarding coordinator will stand in until the other returns. (if you fail to hear from one Safeguarding Coordinator please contact the other)

  • Synod Safeguarding Officer


  • URC Safeguarding Office (This should only be used if you are unable to contact your
    Synod Safeguarding Officer)

Telephone No   020 7520 2729


  • ThirtyOne: Eight (This should only be used for urgent advice if you are unable to contact URC) – 24 hour helpline: 0303 003 1111


Bromley Council Safeguarding Team
(Adults at Risk) – 0208 461 7777

Children – Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub – 0208 461 7373/7379/7026

Or Email

NOTE: A list of useful contacts for all forms of abuse of children and adults can be found on Appendix U and be used in this section of the local policy.


The Elders will review this policy annually, amending and updating it as required, and informing Church Meeting that this has been done.

Date of the most recent review:  8 September 2022

Date of the next review:   08 September 2023