Below is a broad outline of the elements contained in the new Parish Resource Pack. The pack is designed to ensure that parishes create and maintain a safe environment for children engaging in parish activities. In order to locate the relevant section please click on the highlighted areas below.
Vetting and Safe Recruitment
All staff and volunteers who work with children and adults in a regulated activity should be vetted. Whilst vetting is a statutory requirement the recruitment of volunteers and staff should follow standardised guidelines.
Visiting Clergy Protocols
This process outlines procedures to be followed to ensure that clergy from outside Down and Connor who wish to engage in any type of ministry within Down and Connor, be it one-off ministry occasions or engaging in ministry for a period of time, are “in good standing” and are fit for sacred ministry.
These procedures would confirm that the clergy provide a “celebret” and provide appropriate documentation in order to minister in the Diocese.
Codes of Behaviour
A code of behaviour is a clear guide to what is and is not acceptable behaviour and practice when working with children. The Resource Pack contains specific examples of Codes of Behaviour for, a number of roles eg Parish Sacristan, Children’s Liturgy of the Word Leader, Children’s Liturgy of the Word Volunteer, Supervisor of Altar Servers, Folk Choir Leader, Volunteer Parish Youth Worker/Ministry and a Generic Code of Behaviour for Adults. These Codes are based on commonly agreed principles and requirements. For specific adult ministries or parish voluntary work which engages with children and young people which are not covered here, these codes can be used as templates for these occasions. The Safeguarding Office must be consulted when these situations arise.
Codes of Behaviour Children
Best practice would indicate that children should be involved in drawing up a code of behaviour for themselves and relevant to the particular activity they would be involved in. This work should be facilitated by an adult with relevant skills who would work with the children to develop the code of behaviour.
This resource provides guidance on creating a code of behaviour with children.
Managing Breaches of Codes of Behaviour
If a child/young person or adult breaches the code of behaviour efforts should be made to resolve the issue. This resource provides guidance on how these situations can be managed and includes examples of sanctions that may be considered.
The diocese recognises the devastating effects and potential damage that bullying can have on children and young people.
This guidance provides a definition of bullying and highlights different types of bullying. It supports groups in developing strategies to counter bullying and guidance on groups developing an Anti-Bullying Code.
Safe Care of Children General Guidelines
It is critical that the Diocese has in place an effective process which ensures that all allegations and suspicions of abuse of children are reported both within the church and to the statutory authorities. In Northern Ireland under the law this responsibility to report is mandatory.
This guidance outlines the process for reporting any child protection concern that you may come across and is accompanied with a flow chart which represents the process from suspicion, concern, knowledge or allegation through to reporting. The Diocesan Liaison Person (DLP) is a key resource in the management of the referral process and providing advice and guidance to any person who would have the knowledge, allegation, suspicion or concern.
When providing any activity involving children it is crucial that there are appropriate levels of supervision in order that safe care is provided taking into consideration the needs of the children and young people. This guidance outlines appropriate adult supervision ratios. At a minimum two adults are required for any activity.
Any Church activity should not involve one to one contact with children or young people. This guidance provides advice on manging those situations where this takes place either through a specific request by the young person to speak to you personally or where the planned activity involves situations such as personal tuition.
Needs of Children with Special Needs
Children and Young People whom we engage with in our parishes may have specific and special needs and present with a disability. These children have the same rights as any child, in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. This guidance outlines areas for consideration for leaders and volunteers which includes, the importance of engaging with parents, the ethos of inclusion, the consideration of making reasonable adjustments and the consideration that children and young people with special needs can also be subject and victim of abuse and require to have the support of the full range of safeguarding resources and practices.
This subsection relates to the guidance referenced above and also relates to the other guidance around parental and child consent. Children and young people who are unable to meet their own intimate / personal care needs (i.e. perhaps because of age or disability) may need help from an adult volunteer. Intimate/personal care most commonly involves meeting toileting and medication needs. The intimate / personal care needs of a child should always be discussed with his / her parents / carers where these needs require to be met during parish-related activities. Most parents/carers prefer to look after the needs of their own child whilst others may be more than happy to nominate another responsible adult to do this.
Arranging Activities for Children and Young People Outside the Parish
This guidance outlines advice on what should be considered when activities and events have been organised outside the Parish. This guidance also relates to guidance around parental and child/young person consent.
Guidance on Overnight Stays and Residential Activities
This guidance relates to what needs to be considered and planned for in those situations where children and young people are involved in a parish or diocesan event which may involve an overnight stay away from home. It is important that this particular guidance is considered along with other relevant guidance in the Resource Pack.
Guidance on Transporting Children and Young People
This guidance provides indicators of what should be considered if a planned parish activity necessitates the need to transport children or young people. It covers the use of private cars, the necessity to ensure the person who is providing the transport has appropriate insurance, consent and the use of mini-buses.
Guidance on Hazard/Risk Assessment of Activities with Children and Young People
This guidance outlines the definition of risk/hazard assessment as it relates to parish activities involving children and young people and provides advice on the construction and completion of a basic hazard and risk assessment. It should be viewed alongside the designated Hazard/Risk Assessment template in the Resource Pack.
Guidance on Use of Church Property by External Groups
This resource provides guidance to parishes in relation to the use and hire of parish premises by external groups. It covers the ethos of external organisations and whether in the opinion of the parish priest, this would be contrary to the purposes, teachings and beliefs of the Roman Catholic.
For those external groups who would be using Parish Premises this guidance also includes a booking template which must be used, which ensures appropriate safeguarding arrangements are in place and that the external group has appropriate insurance cover.
Guidance on Whistle-Blowing
All staff and volunteers within the diocese must acknowledge their individual responsibility to bring ‘matters of concern’ to the attention of their supervisor/superior/manager.
This resource provides guidance on why the diocese should promote whistle-blowing, what are the barriers to whistle-blowing and practical advice on how to raise a concern.
A complaint is defined as a grievance and/or raising a concern about breaches of codes of behaviour. Allegations or suspicions of child abuse DO NOT fall under this guidance. The diocese strives to promote a culture of openness, transparency and fairness. This resource promotes creating an ethos within parish groups that is open to hearing feedback from children, vulnerable adults, carers, clergy, staff, volunteers and parishioners about the services the parish offers and how they may be improved.
It also provides guidance on how situations are managed when a complaint or dissatisfaction is expressed.
Guidance on Use of Technology
This resource provides advice and guidance on the use of technology which includes digital and online systems such as photography, internet, texting and CCTV/Webcams. The diocese recognises the benefits of these systems. This resource provides guidance to parish groups on how they can be used safely and how they can be used in line with legislation that respect the privacy, dignity and the rights of all users, particularly children.
Data Protection and Privacy Guidelines
This resource provides advice and guidance to parish groups in relation to the legal requirements and best practice around data protection and information sharing. It provides groups with guidance around written information provided for and sought from parents, principles of confidentiality, record keeping and the sharing of information.
The guidelines provide a legal framework which all parish and diocesan groups must adhere to. Parishes may contact the Safeguarding Office with regards the operation implications on the data and records which are collected by parishes.