News roundup: May 2020

29 May 2020, Thirtyone:eight

Here are our top safeguarding stories from May 2020. To access or view the full articles click on the link embedded in the title:

Thirtyone:eight in the news:

Bishop of London raises alarm on domestic abuse during lockdown

The Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, joined Thirtyone:eight in urging churchgoers to look out for people who are more vulnerable to domestic abuse during the coronavirus lockdown. Safeguarding service manager at Thirtyone:eight, Cathy Johnson, told the Church Times: “Domestic abuse happens across all communities, regardless of any specific demographics, and this is true of church communities, too. The church only becomes aware of an issue when a family hits a crisis and reaches out for help. What follows is often a sense of shock or disbelief, as the family in question were perceived to be ‘OK’.”

Safeguarding the Church may hamper child protection efforts, inquiry hears

A need to protect the Church and even God himself could be used as an excuse to avoid dealing with child sex abuse in some Christian organisations, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has heard. Justin Humphreys, CEO at Thirtyone:eight, suggested to the inquiry that more work needs to be done on faith-based abuse and that a degree of momentum in addressing the issue may have been lost because of a lack of backing from the Government.

News headlines:

'Shoppers can go to busy supermarket but worshippers can't pray in empty church' MPs demand PM to open churches

A group of 20 Conservative MPs have written to the Prime Minster urging him to allow churches to open for private prayer, weddings and funerals as early as June. The government has linked places of worship with pubs, hairdressers, hospitality providers, and leisure facilities as free to open around July 4th, assuming infection rates have not risen again and provided they can meet the Covid-19 secure guidelines. However, the Prime Minister has also said he hoped the two-metre social distancing rule could soon be reduced to enable businesses such as pubs and restaurants to reopen faster.

Women suffering ‘domestic and spiritual abuse’ in lockdown, religious leaders warn

Figures from Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Hindu and Sikh communities said they had heard reports of abuse in the home ranging from psychological and physical violence to spiritual abuse during the Covid-19 emergency. The government has pledged to spend £76m to support vulnerable people who are "trapped in a nightmare" at home during the coronavirus lockdown. The funding package will help community-based services that work with victims of domestic abuse, sexual violence and modern slavery, as well as vulnerable children, in England and Wales.

Historical Institutional Abuse: Stormont to investigate data breach

Stormont's Department of Finance is conducting an investigation into a data breach involving the identities of hundreds of historical abuse survivors, the first minister has said. It comes after BBC News Northern Ireland revealed a letter had been sent without the names of 250 recipients being anonymised. It was sent on behalf of Interim Victims' Advocate Brendan McAllister, who has said he will not resign.

Christian foster agency challenges Ofsted discrimination rating

Ofsted "abused" its position by accusing an evangelical Christian fostering service of discrimination, a court has heard. Cornerstone (North East) Adoption and Fostering Service has launched a High Court challenge after its inspection rating was lowered. The Sunderland-based agency was criticised for only welcoming married heterosexuals as foster carers.

Coronavirus delays Smyth review

The lessons-learnt review of the Church’s handling of allegations of abuse committed by the late John Smyth has been further delayed owing to the coronavirus. The review was announced by the Rt Revd Peter Hancock, in August 2018 and was due to report in August 2020. Completion is now expected into 2021.

Rotherham child sex abuse inquiry 'to continue for years'

A major inquiry into historic child sex abuse in Rotherham is set to continue for up to seven years with around 600 victims still to be spoken to. Operation Stovewood was started by the National Crime Agency (NCA) in 2015 after it emerged at least 1,400 children were abused from 1997 to 2013.


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