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Thirtyone:eight have released the headline findings of our latest research with the University of Chester exploring how COVID-19 and the recent restrictions have impacted safeguarding in churches and other organisations.

The key themes emerging from the research were presented at an online roundtable event on Friday 11th June 2021. Joining Thirtyone:eight's Claudia Bell and Lee Carmichael in speaking at the event were Dr Lisa Oakley and Professor Moira Lafferty from the University of Chester who undertook the research, Diane Regan from Kintsugi Hope, and Bekah Legg from Restored.

The purpose of the research was to explore the experiences of safeguarding leads in their roles in Christian faith contexts in the United Kingdom before, during and post Covid-19. 199 participants, who met the inclusion criteria, completed an online survey. The survey was open from 9th January to 1st March 2021.

Watch the roundtable event here:


The research showed:

  • 69% of participants stated that COVID-19 had impacted safeguarding in their organisation.
  • 70% reported it had impacted or changed the way they conduct their safeguarding duties.
  • 20% of participants said that they had felt overwhelmed in their safeguarding role at some point.
  • 39% of organisations that worked internationally stated that the pandemic had impacted their international work with 32% reporting that at least some of their international work had stopped due to the pandemic.

Some of the key themes and insights highlighted in the research included:

  • Hidden people – hidden harm and how we might prepare and equip ourselves to deal with a potential increase in disclosures or concerns about harm and abuse as people reconnect.
  • The impact of the pandemic on mental health and how this interrelates with safeguarding as we emerge from the pandemic.
  • Navigating the longer-term implications of safeguarding in the hybrid church and equipping those with safeguarding responsibilities to create safer places online as well as offline.

Justin Humphreys, CEO at Thirtyone:eight, said: “The learning from this study will help to inform the development of support that we can offer and help the future direction for Thirtyone:eight.

“It will also help other organisations and individuals who are interested in safeguarding in these various contexts, in order that we can all continue to offer the best possible support to people working on the frontline and underpin effective safeguarding within the Christian faith community. We hope that this will contribute towards safer places for the many thousands of vulnerable and ‘at risk’ people at this difficult time.”

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