Tuesday, 30 November 2010
UCKG has restated its commitment to child protection by holding the largest child protection training event ever to take place in the UK for some 800 pastors, church workers and volunteers.
Speaking after the training, Bishop Pierre Dessaint, who heads this Pentecostal church in the UK, said: “We have been operating a formal Child Protection Policy very successfully since 2003. However we wanted to take our knowledge of this matter to a new level in the interests of all children who attend our centres. It was also important to ensure that everyone who works for UCKG or is a volunteer is fully up to date as regards the delivery of our Child Protection Policy.
The event opened with prayers led by Bishop Pierre, and the main speakers were Bob Pull who, as a serving Metropolitan Police officer led Project Violet**, and Simon Bass chief executive officer of the Churches Child Protection Advisory Service (CCPAS)*. They both drew on a tremendous depth of experience in safeguarding and child protection.
Topics covered included the definition of abuse and how to respond to a disclosure of abuse, how to contact the statutory authorities (police and children’s social services), and how to safely work with children and young people. The important role churches can play in protecting children from abuse and harm was highlighted, along with supporting survivors of abuse.
Simon Bass said: “I am greatly encouraged both by the strong support the church leadership has given in promoting safeguarding and by the response of those participating, in looking at how everyone can play their part in safeguarding and nurturing children within the church.”
The rationale for the event was UCKG’s commitment to delivering the highest standard of child protection throughout its ministry and the prevention of abuse in any form. The church is also alert to the potential for harm that arises from certain African beliefs in circulation in the UK, and it consistently speaks out against these.
Prior to 2009 all UCKG HelpCentre ministry workers including Kids Zone (Sunday School) teachers, assistants, youth group leaders, pastors and their wives were CRB checked. As legislation has developed it was decided that all UCKG’s workers and volunteers at every level should undergo the checks as part of safe recruitment. The Trustees then agreed that the matter should be taken to its logical conclusion by providing child protection training for all.
Feedback from attendees
Speaking for many of the attendees, Keeley-Rose August a UCKG Sunday School teacher, from Stamford Hill, north London said: “It’s an eye opener. I learnt that not only
do I play a part in safeguarding but everyone does. Anything overlooked no matter how small could cause harm to a child and other children around them.”
An attendee from south London, who asked to remain anonymous, found an immediate benefit, saying: “I feel more comfortable to speak about abuse I faced as a child having attended the course. I am now working as best I can to bring my abuser to justice after years of self-blame and fear because I have understood that it’s not just about me. If I say nothing, he could be harming other children.
“I have a responsibility not only as a youth leader but as someone that doesn’t want to see evil flourish at the hands of my silence. The course made me realise that I wasn’t alone and that abuse does happen and although I cannot change the past, I can use what happened to me to help others and the course has renewed my confidence to do just that!”.
Note to editors:
*Churches’ Child Protection Advisory Service (CCPAS) is the UK’s only independent Christian charity providing professional advice, disclosure checks, training and support in safeguarding children and vulnerable adults, and for those affected by abuse.
**Project Violet: Following the tragic cases of Child B and Victoria Climbié, where adults believed a child in their care was a witch or possessed by evil spirits, the Metropolitan Police to set up a working group, Project Violet, to assess the impact it might have on child protection in London. This involved consulting African and Asian communities in two parts of London about child protection issues, building relationships and understanding to enable the MPS to combat and prevent the repetition of such cruelty.
UCKG is a Christian church and registered charity that offers a range of practical support activities alongside spiritual support and comfort. It reached the UK in 1995 and has gone from strength to strength, providing support and spreading the Christian faith. There are 39 UCKG branches in England and Wales.
UCKG’s Child Protection Policy was developed in conjunction with the Islington Area Child Protection Committee, which comprises representatives of all major child welfare organisations in the borough.