Seeking to know Jesus and make Him known in Stevenage

Responding, reporting and recording

Part of our Safeguarding Policy

5.1 Things to be alert to…

The national and Diocesan polices training and handbooks define the legal terms and topics of abuse and can be accessed here

If an individual recognises signs where some form of help might benefit someone, they should share this with the safeguarding team so that they can determine what level of support is required; whether it is Pastoral, Pastoral Plus, Care & Protection or outside agency help.

Some examples of signs are shown below:

5.1.1: Children and Families

All families face difficulties at some time; some families more than others. Families, friends, health services, schools and many others are often able to help and guide people through very difficult times. Signs that someone may benefit from professional help include:

  • If parents are struggling with a new-born baby, children or teenagers.
  • If there has been a sudden trauma, illness, death or other major change in family circumstances.
  • A child discloses or it becomes clear that they are being aggressively hit, sexually abused, emotionally abused, not kept safe, not being fed or their health needs are ignored or they are being spiritually abused.

5.1.2: Young People

Be alert to the following signs:

  • Peer bullying.
  • Persistently going missing from school, home or being found a long way from their local area.
  • Unexplained acquisition of money, clothes or mobile phones.
  • Excessive receipt of texts, messages etc or phone calls.
  • Being in relationships where there is control, coercion, violence, older adults.
  • Being involved in gangs.
  • Leaving home without explanation.
  • Self-harm, suicidal thoughts or attempts.
  • Being victim of assault or unexplained injuries.
  • Significant decline on school, college or work performance.
  • Significant changes in emotional well-being.
  • The young person engages in violent behaviour, crime, drugs etc.

Note: Where a number of these factors co-exist, the risks to a young person may increase significantly.

5.1.3: Adults

Where the adult is currently struggling with, carrying out or was subject to any of the following in their (distant) past:

  • If someone moves in and takes over their home and/or kicks them out (“Cuckooing”).
  • Behaviour: drugs, alcohol problems, long term unemployment.
  • Health: severe obesity, depression, suicidal thoughts/attempts.
  • Abuse: physical, emotional, sexual (doing to their child, or having received as a child themselves).
  • Neglect: not giving to their child or having received as a child themselves love, attention, safety, security; the basic needs.
  • Personal difficulties: mental illness, domestic violence, substance misuse, acrimonious separation, relative in prison.
  • Victim: has been or is a victim of domestic abuse, trafficking, sexual or economic exploitation, Female Genital Mutilation, slavery, trafficking.

5.1.4: Older People

Where the person may be:

  • Struggling with cooking, cleaning, self-care and daily routines.
  • Suffering from confusion or memory problems.
  • Hoarding.
  • Themselves a carer of their elderly / disabled / sick partner.
  • Struggling with banking, finances or where a friend, family or other may be taking advantage of their finances.
  • If someone moves in and takes over their home and/or kicks them out (“Cuckooing”) or seems to be taken advantage of by another adult.

5.2: A scale to guide thinking when you are worried about someone

Judging big decisions can be difficult, particularly when you are worried about someone’s, health, wellbeing or safety. A good rule of thumb to help make such judgements might include asking yourself:

  • How worried am I about this person?
  • How knowledgeable am I about the topic?

These two factors can be used in a scale to help guide you using our colour-coded levels aligned with the corresponding support levels.

I am not at all worried I am a little worried I am quite worried I am very worried I am extremely worried

Table 2: A worry scale to guide decision-making

IF YOU ARE VERY WORRIED OR EXTREMELY WORRIED, YOU MUST CONTACT THE SAFEGUARDING LEAD OR THE RECTOR AS SOON AS POSSIBLE AND SHARE WITH THEM YOUR CONCERNS.

5.3 If a person tells you very personal information

  • Ensure the physical environment is welcoming, giving opportunity for the child, young person or adult with care and support needs to talk in private but making sure others are aware the conversation is taking place.
  • It is especially important to allow time and space for the person to talk.
  • Above everything else listen without interrupting.
  • Be attentive and look at them whilst they are speaking.
  • Show acceptance of what they say (however unlikely the story may sound) by reflecting back words or short phrases they have used.
  • Try to remain calm, even if on the inside you are feeling something different.
  • Be honest and don’t make promises you can’t keep regarding confidentiality.
  • If they decide not to tell you after all, accept their decision but let them know that you are always ready to listen.
  • Use language that is age appropriate and, for those with disabilities, ensure there is someone available who understands sign language, Braille etc.
  • As soon as you can, make a note of the meeting, taking care to record the time, date, setting, and persons present, as well as what was said.

A comprehensive record of all the facts, events and conversations must be made on the same day as they occur. Known facts should be distinguished from allegation and opinions; this information may be required for legal purposes.

A handy set of ‘rules of thumb’ can be:

  • Respond (do not play down or ignore what you are hearing).
  • Reassure (show love, kindness, support and that you will help).
  • Report (inform the appropriate person as soon as possible).
  • Don’t investigate (doing so can cause great difficulties for any victim, for any alleged perpetrator, for church leaders and external support services).
  • Don’t try to solve things yourself (even if you have expertise in the area).
  • Don’t keep it to yourself (see the confidentiality and need to know section).
  • If in doubt, talk to the Rector or the safeguarding lead.

Helpful responses

  • You have done the right thing in telling.
  • I am glad you have told me.
  • I will try to help you.

Unhelpful responses

  • Why didn’t you tell anyone before?
  • I can’t believe it!
  • Are you sure this is true?
  • Why? How? When? Who? Where?
  • I am shocked, don’t tell anyone else.

5.4: When people don’t accept the help or support they appear to need

Lots of people, and often older people, do not want professionals in their lives or in their homes. This is quite understandable for many reasons, including:

  • Fear of loss of independence.
  • Feelings of intrusion.
  • Feeling undermined.
  • Disagreeing with their assessment or decision.
  • Unable to accept the reality of their situation.
  • It can also include someone wanting to hide their behaviour from professionals.

Sometimes an illness such as mental illness, dementia or learning difficulty may inhibit the decision-making capacity of a vulnerable person. For adults, their condition must be at an advanced level to meet legal thresholds for ‘non-voluntary’ support to be given.

In cases where church has made referrals to specialist or care and protection agencies, but the person is refusing help, the church should:

  • Gently, seek to encourage the person to accept specialist external support.
  • Seek wider family involvement to be more involved.
  • Respect their right to make their decision – even if you disagree with them.
  • Liaise closely with specialist services in case their criteria or thresholds do become met.

When a person refuses to accept external specialist support, it is important that volunteers do not seek to ‘fill in the gaps’ or cover over the risk, harm or any abuse that may be going on. This can easily happen, especially if:

  • We are either fearful of a referral being made in case it damages their relationship with the person they support.
  • We feel there is no point because the person refuses.
  • A referral was made, but statutory services are unable to help (criteria not met etc).

In such cases, the Rector and the Safeguarding Lead will agree the limits to what support can be given.

5.5: Confidentiality and ‘need to know’ across the continuum.

If you think that a person might enjoy, need or benefit from other activities or support within or outside the church, then you and/or they can be signposted to the appropriate lead person. This table gives guidance on how best to liaise with the appropriate person and how confidentiality is maintained at each level, based on who needs to know.


I am not at all worried

Proverbs 11:13 guides us.

A gossip betrays confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret

Proverbs 11:13

I am a little worried

Speak to the relevant group or activity leader.

Personal matters are kept within the specific group, unless there is a care and protection issue or the person gives consent for you to seek help or guidance.

I am quite worried

Speak to the Pastoral Support Leader.

Only those from the Pastoral Team and who are involved directly need to know.

I am very worried

Speak to the Rector or Safeguarding Lead.

The Pastoral Team Lead shares information with those directly involved on a need-to-know basis.

This always includes the Rector and the Safeguarding (PPS) Lead.

I am extremely worried

Speak to the Rector or Safeguarding (PPS) Lead.

The Safeguarding Lead shares information with those directly involved on a need-to-know basis.

This always includes the Rector.


Table 3: A continuum of confidentiality and ‘need to know’

If you think that someone’s immediate safety or wellbeing is seriously compromised (e.g. a child would be going to a person they just told you was abusing them; or if the person says they are thinking about taking their own life), even if you do not have their agreement, then you should contact one of the church safeguarding team or the Rector immediately – or even an external specialist agency – details are in section 10 of this document.

If there are suspicions in any way that involve the Safeguarding Lead, then you should contact the Rector or one of the Church Wardens immediately.

If the suspicions implicate both the Safeguarding Lead and the Rector, then the report should be made immediately to Social Services and/ or the Police and the Diocesan Safeguarding Lead.

5.6: Record keeping

5.6.1: Pastoral Care

A very basic record of agreements or plans may be made by the Pastoral Lead or nominated person, to help coordinate support and for no other purpose. These can be destroyed or deleted once they have served their purpose.

Emails should be headed with ‘Pastoral Care’ to help with boundaries and confidentiality.

5.6.2: Pastoral Plus

The Diocesan policy requires the Safeguarding lead to keep confidential records of serious concerns, incidents and issues. These records can for be a one-off incident or a chronologic record over time about a person, or family.

A record of actions, agreements or plans should be kept by the Pastoral Plus/Safeguarding lead, to help coordinate support and outcomes. These records would be kept for 3 years and then deleted/destroyed unless they are part of Care and Protection records.

For security and confidentiality, we use a password protected google drive and any documents created are password protected and shared under a strict ‘need to know’ basis.

The content MUST be shared with the person being supported, except where there are serious care and protection concerns that may be compromised or someone else may be compromised as a result. In any such situations, the decision should be explored by the safeguarding lead and Rector, with external guidance from the Diocese as required.

Emails should be headed with ‘Pastoral Plus’ to help with boundaries and confidentiality.

5.6.3: Care and Protection

The Diocesan policy requires the Safeguarding Lead to keep confidential records of serious concerns, incidents and issues. These records can for be a one-off incident or a chronologic record over time about a person, or family.

An ongoing detailed record of actions, agreements or plans should be kept by the Pastoral Plus/Safeguarding Lead, to help coordinate support and outcomes. These records would be kept for 5 years and then deleted/destroyed or given to statutory agencies as required.

For security and confidentiality, we use a password protected google drive and any documents created are password protected and shared under a strict ‘need to know’ basis.

The content SHOULD be shared with the person being supported, but in certain circumstances this may not be suitable and a note made as to why not should be kept. In any such situations, the decision should be explored by the Safeguarding Lead and Rector, with external guidance from the Diocese as required.

Emails should be headed with ‘Care and Protection’ to help with boundaries and confidentiality.