Strengthening relationships in Northern Ireland

01 June 2021, Leigh McFarlane, Thirtyone:eight

At Thirtyone:eight we work together with churches, places of worship,  organisations and Christian communities in Northern Ireland to create safer places for all within a Northern Irish policy and cultural context. In partnership with local churches, government and other organisations, we continue working to strengthen relationships and to develop the help and support we offer on a national basis. Here's some of the highlights form our recent work:

Thirtyone:eight has been active in advocating for positive safeguarding changes in Northern Ireland.  In September 2020, Health Minister Robin Swann MLA announced plans for a new Adult Safeguarding Bill for Northern Ireland. This Bill is important in ensuring that we have a robust adult safeguarding framework in Northern Ireland. As part of our vision to create safer spaces together Thirtyone:eight have contributed to the recent consultation process for this new piece of legislation

Alongside this, Justice Minister Naomi Long MLA has announced plans to strengthen abuse of trust legislation. The present legislation is found within the Sexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 2008 and applies to positions of trust in statutory settings. At present those who work with 16 & 17-year-olds in statutory settings are committing an offence if they engage in sexual activity with the 16 or 17-year-olds they supervise. We would like to see the scope of the legislation extended to other sectors including faith groups, the sports sector and other extra-curricular activities. To this end we have been proactively advocating for a change in law throughout the UK and have been involved in discussion as to what this new piece of legislation looks like connected with the Department of Justice in Northern Ireland. We want to see faith organisations as safe spaces for all children and young people.

Our nationally accredited safeguarding helpline has recently become a member of the Helplines NI network. Helplines NI brings together over 30 helplines operating across Northern Ireland, providing a variety of support services including information, advice, counselling and listening services. The Thirtyone:eight safeguarding helpline compliments other Helplines NI members by providing specialist safeguarding advice for professionals, churches, charities, individuals, victims and survivors.

Thirtyone:eight has also become a member of the Northern Ireland Council on Voluntary Action (NICVA). NICVA supports the voluntary and community sector by offering a range of practical, advocacy and support services. We are looking forward to partnering with NICVA members in the faith and charitable sectors in Northern Ireland. 

We've also been further developing our training offer specifically for the Northern Irish legislative and practice context. Our next courses are Safeguarding children and young people, 11 October 2021 and safeguarding adults at risk of harm, 20 October 2021.

Lastly, a really big thank you to all our Northern Irish members who participated in our recent survey. We value your input and feedback and look forward to sharing the results with you shortly. If you did not complete the survey, but would like the opportunity to provide some feedback on our services, please email [email protected]



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