Staying Safe

Everyone trusted Jesus from very small children, people with disabilities and socially stigmatising illnesses and minority groups who faced prejudice and discrimination and even soldiers in the occupying army that ruled Palestine at that time. The only people who really disliked him were leaders who he called out for abuse of their power. We know that churches were not always safe places for many people in the past.

We are totally committed that the churches in our benefice will feel and be safe for everyone who comes through our doors. For that reason we have policies and procedures in place in all of our churches and people appointed to ensure we all adhere to them, to enable that to be true.

Everyone who needs to be vetted according to Church of England policies has undergone the necessary checks and we follow the Church of England’s Safer Recruitment procedures.

Domestic Abuse

Domestic abuse is covered by different laws than Safeguarding but is still a crime that is prevalent in our society and was exacerbated by covid lockdowns. Being a church member does not give immunity from being either an abuser or victim of domestic violence.

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In the year ending March 2021, police in England & Wales recorded nearly 1½ million incidents and crimes of domestic abuse.

Ministers, churchwardens and PCC members in our benefice have all received training in domestic abuse. You can read our Domestic Abuse Statement here.

Northumberland Domestic Abuse Service: 01434 608030.

My Harbour provides domestic abuse support services in Northumberland to all victims regardless of sex or gender.

Data Protection

Churches are required to keep certain personal information about the people on their Electoral Rolls. This can only be used for purposes within the church. As a general principle we only keep personal date with people’s consent and for the purposes which they have given consent to.

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You can read the Benefice Privacy Policy here.

If you wish to check the information we hold about you (if any) and then amend it in any way please contact us at infobesstbenefice@gmail.com

Church Governance

Each Church of England (CofE) parish has its own internal governance to ensure we comply with national law, church law and policies and are ethical in our decision making. This is done through the Churchwardens and the Parochial Church Council (PCC).
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Our PCCs meet every 2 months, chaired by the Vicar or the Lay Chairperson. The membership is the churchwardens, elected by the parish, deanery synod representatives (part of the CofE governance to which parishes contribute) and PCC members. Remaining PCC members are voted for by people on the Electoral Roll of the parish and serve terms of 3 years.

The Electoral Roll is the list of everyone who has indicated their wish to be identified with a particular church and be committed to it. If you feel that one of our churches has become your ‘home’ church, please ask for a welcome pack to find out more.

Each year, we have annual meetings at which elections for officers take place and reports are given about what we have done in the previous year and our hopes for the year ahead.

Safeguarding

All of our parishes are committed to:
1. The care, nurture of, and respectful pastoral ministry with, all children, young people and adults.
2. The safeguarding and protection of all children, young people and adults.
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3. Being a safe and caring community which provides a loving environment where victims of abuse can report or disclose abuse and where they can find support and best practice that contributes to the prevention of abuse.

4. By adopting the House of Bishop’s ‘Promoting a Safer Church: safeguarding policy statement’ More information about Church of England policies and guidance can be found here.

Our Benefice Safeguarding Policy can be viewed here.

Our procedure for anyone with safeguarding concerns can be viewed here:

Safeguarding Contacts:
Barbara Donaldson, Benefice Safeguarding Officer on 01289 306083 or bdonaldson7@tiscali.co.uk

OR

one of the ministers.

The contact information for the Newcastle Diocese Safeguarding Team are here.

Remember, if you believe someone to be in immediate danger please call the police on 999.

Online Safety

The NSPCC has excellent information about online safety which you can read here.