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At Thirtyone:eight we've been working over the last year with Dr Krish Kandiah, social entrepreneur and respected Christian Theologian, to explore what the Bible has to say about the Christian responsibility to protect vulnerable people. We’ve worked together to create a theology of safeguarding to guide and direct all that we do. Framed within the context of Proverbs 31:8, from where we get our name, we’ve drawn on the wider themes and patterns found throughout scripture.

Sadly, there are many examples of where individuals and institutions have failed to protect the vulnerable as highlighted in recent times by the various independent, public inquiries into institutional child abuse and a range of other areas of injustice across the four nations of the UK. Abuse has been uncovered in government, in sport, in healthcare, in show business and sadly also in the church and other faith settings.

Since caring for vulnerable people is at the heart of our Scriptures, it is shameful that not only has the church often failed to adequately care but has also allowed abuse and neglect to take place on its watch. If theology is to the church as a compass is to sailors in a storm, then safeguarding is the true north of all the helpful service the church has to offer. Together they must set the direction of all Christian ministry.

One of the most important lessons we have drawn is that the church has to do everything it can to purposefully and wholeheartedly engage with theology and safeguarding, ensuring they underpin all its ministry to all people and the creation of the safer places that they expect and deserve. A robust theology of safeguarding is a gift to the church. Like an unbreakable compass in a storm, it keeps us travelling safely in the right direction without deviation or distraction.

Justin Humphreys, our Chief-executive (Safeguarding) said: "We have been delighted to work with our good friend, Krish Kandiah to develop a theological overview of why we do what we do. It is my privilege to be able to now share this with you. It is not intended to be an exhaustive commentary, but we hope it will assist people to understand what motivates us and what inspires us to work with the many thousands of organisations who look to us for credible and professional assistance. It is important to us that all those who are in need of support are confident that we understand them and also understand God's heart for protecting the most vulnerable in our society.”

The Bible gives a clear mandate, motivation and mission to ensure that those who are or may be vulnerable are heard, defended, and treated appropriately, effectively, fairly and compassionately. In our ministries, education, leadership, families and communities and in the attitudes and actions that underpin our systems and structures, we must speak up for them. Our theology must be worked out in best safeguarding practice for all.

On developing the theology, Dr Kandiah said: “Christians in all organisations must be attentive to what the Bible has to say about safeguarding in our different areas of work and ministry if we are going to be faithful and effective. I am excited that thirtyone:eight are seeking to ground their vital work on biblical principles”

We've devised our theology of safeguarding to be a 'live' and working document that we can build on and develop as our understanding grows, and we would love for you to be a part of that. We'd like to hear your thoughts and feedback to help us grow in a better understanding of these areas. Download the full document here and get in touch using the contact us form on our website.

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