Chaplaincy Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Groups Policy

The Cumbria University Chaplaincy Vulnerable Adults policy has been designed to sit within the University’s Safeguarding Policy and Procedure and with reference to ‘Promoting a Safe Church’ booklet which is available from Church House Publishing. It can be downloaded here.

The chaplaincy is committed to implementing the university’s safeguarding policy in the following ways:

  • We are committed to respectful pastoral ministry to all adults within our chaplaincy community and any under 18 students

  • We are committed, within our chaplaincy community, to the safeguarding and protection of vulnerable people

  • We will carefully select and train all those with any pastoral responsibility within the Chaplaincy, including the use of DBS disclosures where legal or appropriate

  • We will respond without delay to any complaint made that an adult or child for whom we were responsible has been harmed, cooperating with police and the local authority in any investigation

  • We will seek to offer informed pastoral care to anyone who has suffered abuse, developing with them an appropriate healing ministry

  • We will challenge any abuse of power by anyone in a position of trust

  • We will care for and supervise any member of our chaplaincy community known to have offended against a vulnerable person, taking into account any conditions of suspension by the university which that person is made subject too.

Safeguarding concerns can be reported through the Student Enquiry Point. The safeguarding lead is Gail Howes.

Related documents:

Related information

Expand the links below for more information.

Issues of Spirituality

Within faith communities harm may be caused to the vulnerable by the inappropriate use of religious belief or practice.

This can include:

  • The misuse of the authority of leadership or penitential discipline
  • Oppressive teaching
  • Obtrusive healing and deliverance ministries
  • The denial of the rights to faith and religious practice

Spiritual growth and wellbeing among the vulnerable can be enhanced by:

  • Inclusive acts of worship
  • Providing for dietary, dress and other requirements of faith
  • Enabling adequate and reasonable access to them by representatives of their faith community
  • Accepting the integrity of the person’s religious belief and spirituality.

Implementing a policy in the Chaplaincy

Everyone, as a citizen, has a responsibility for the safety, wellbeing and protection of others. Everyone within the Chaplaincy community also has a responsibility to ensure that there is a welcome for all people, including those seen as vulnerable.

A policy about the safeguarding of vulnerable people should be the concern of the whole Chaplaincy. It forms part of the wider University and Church response to safeguarding. This is an opportunity for the Chaplaincy to remember their commitment to one another.

All those involved with the delivery of Chaplaincy activity will be provided with a copy of this policy and will be asked to sign to say they understand their responsibilities and remit.

Recruitment and Selection – Appointment of Volunteers

The Chaplaincy has a responsibility and a legal liability for everything undertaken in their name. Whether a person is a volunteer or an employee makes no difference, the only real difference is that employees have statutory rights where volunteers, in the main, do not.

Prospective appointees should: get some advice from Human Resources then amend if required.

  • Be treated as job applicants and have a clearly defined role and job description,
  • Complete a short statement to demonstrate why they wish to volunteer, what they seek to gain from it and the skills they can bring, and have an opportunity to discuss the requirements of the role, including safeguarding questions
  • Complete a confidential declaration form,
  • People seeking to work with vulnerable people should be given an early opportunity to declare any relevant matters; the confidential declaration form is for this purpose
  • Name two referees - Prospective candidates must give the name of two referees in order to help assess their suitability for the role. Written references must be obtained and then checked for validity.

If a decision is made to appoint the appointee should obtain a DBS Disclosure, however no appointment should be made until the DBS has been issued.

Those appointing volunteers or workers to the Chaplaincy should:

  • Decide on the candidate’s suitability. This is based on their personal qualities in relation to general experience, aptitudes, skills, motivation and willingness to be trained.
  • Be prepared to say “No” if the candidate is unsuitable.
  • Give the volunteer an agreement to ensure mutual understanding of the role, with clear boundaries and expectations and training to support the volunteer
  • Ensure that the volunteer receives the correct training for the role undertaken and also ensure that training is kept up to date.
  • Confirm the successful applicant in post after a probationary period
  • Ensure safe storage of information: that includes all registration forms, references and confidential declaration forms. They should be stored in a safe and secure place within the Chaplaincy Office and the timescale is in perpetuity.

University of Cumbria Chaplaincy and 'Prevent'

The chaplaincy seeks to respond to the governments ‘Prevent’ strategy in a number of ways:

  • By working in collaboration with the university in all matters relating to the ‘Prevent’ agenda.
  • Through  active pastoral care of students as they negotiate the difficult territory of religion, culture and spirituality
  • By active concern and vigilance towards those who may be vulnerable to exploitation as a result of their particular circumstance i.e. mental health difficulties, cultural dissonance. 
    “HE chaplains have a wealth of experience in providing pastoral care to those undergoing a shift in their religious perspective and weighing up new beliefs and ideas. They are adept in offering non-judgemental guidance while discerning where religious beliefs intersect with cultural and political ideas or mental health concerns, and in particular assessing when a belief has the potential to cause harm to the individual or others, This means that chaplains are well-placed to offer guidance to those responsible for drawing up policies relating to vulnerable people, and ensuring these are implemented in a sensitive and nuanced manner." - The Counter –Terrorism and Security Act (2015), Prevent and HE Chaplains: Some Questions for Discussion
  • By encouraging open and engaging dialogue between members of different faith communities
  • By remaining a ‘critical friend’ to the university, maintaining an independent stance on religious and cultural issues.
  • By our clear management of the university prayer spaces
  • By building and maintaining links with student societies and by making ourselves available to advise on sensitive issues involving speakers on campus and the needs of faith groups.

Survivors of abuse and the Chaplaincy

Many survivors have problems with attending acts of worship and it can be that some of those on the fringes of the Chaplaincy communities include survivors.

Sensitivity, care and ideally informed input are needed to help people work through these issues.

The sense of pollution is frequently internalised. Some survivors even feel that if they go to worship they will ‘pollute’ the service of others; such is their feeling of guilt and shame.

It is important to recognise the vulnerability and possible ‘childlike’ state of survivors, especially when they are in crisis or the early stages of healing. They can be over-compliant and easily manipulated. Power abuse within pastoral care is a real danger.

General helplines

National Domestic Violence Helpline
Phone: 0808 200 0247

Parentline Plus - Helpline for parents
Phone: 0808 800 2222

Phone: 0845 790 9090  

Stop It Now - Helpline for abusers, potential abusers and others concerned with sexual abuse
Phone: 0808 1000 900

Women’s Aid
Phone: 0808 2000 247 

Voluntary organisations for people who may be vulnerable

Action on Elder Abuse
Phone: 080 8808 8141 

Age Concern England 

Alzheimer’s Society
Phone: 0845 300 0336

Help the Aged
Phone: 020 7278 1114 

Phone: 0207 452 2000 

Working with disabled people for social inclusion, empowerment and justice

Phone: 0207 454 0454

MIND — The National Association for Mental Health
Phone: 0845 766 0163 

RNIB — The Royal National Institute for the Blind
Phone: 0845 766 9999 

Action on Hearing Loss — formerly The Royal National Institute for Deaf People
Phone: 0808 808 0123 

Scope - The main national organisation for those with cerebral palsy
Phone: 0808 800 3333

Through the Roof / Churches For All - Christian body which helps to improve access of disabled people to the Church
Phone: 01372 749955

Resources for adult survivors of abuse

Christian Survivors of Sexual Abuse
Address only: 38 Sydenham Villas Road, Cheltenham, Glocs.

MACSAS - Support and networking for survivors of sexual abuse by those in ministry 
Phone: 0808 801 0340

NAPAC - National Association for People Abused in Childhood
Phone: 0800 085 3330

RESPOND - For survivors or abusers with learning difficulties
Phone: 0808 808 0700

Survivors UK - Support for male survivors
Phone: 0845 122 1201

S:Vox - Support and self-help for survivors

Pastoral care

Holyrood House: Centre for Health and Pastoral Care - Offering counselling and psychotherapies
Phone: 01845 522850 

Useful websites

Dept. for Education and Skills

Dept. of Health

Home Office  

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)

Church of England  

Resources and information - Relevant publications

No Secrets, Department of Health, 2000. Available from Department of Health, P0 Box, London SE1 6XH, or online.

Safeguarding Adults: a national framework of standards for good practice and outcomes in adult protection, ADSS, 2005.

Time for Action: A report of Sexual Abuse Issues. 2002. Church House Publish