It can be easy to become overwhelmed and discouraged by the problems of the world after reading the news or attending a charity event. However, there are many ways to take action. One way is to raise funds to ensure vital, practical work can be done to support the vulnerable.
Reverend Adrian Miller, a vicar from Norfolk, decided to respond to the issues he has heard about in a visible and positive way. Rev Miller shaved his head as a ‘lament’ over recent high profile cases of church abuse and in doing so he has raised over £2,800 for Thirtyone:eight to use in helping develop healthier church communities and support survivors of abuse.
Father of two Rev Miller, of Mulbarton Church, Norwich Diocese, 'braved the shave' on Friday 30th April 2021. He said it was a symbolic representative lament, a personal statement of intent and a way to do something to raise funds to help on the frontline.
To help raise the funds Rev Miller set up an online sponsorship page with a target of £1,000, which is enough to fund 21 calls answered by Thirtyone:eight’s Safeguarding Helpline to people urgently needing safeguarding advice and support.
The page exceeded its target, however Rev Miller said that for him the challenge was more than just about raising money. Rev Miller, who was ordained in 2006, said: “This is a cause I feel passionate about. I have seen and known the harm that can be done when trust is broken and positions of power and privilege abused.
“I have also seen something of the self deception exhibited by perpetrators and the way collusion subtly works. I find it frightening. It can feel threatening and uncomfortable to face these issues, it can make you question who you can trust, and whether you can even trust yourself – but it is the only way to chart a different course – we have to listen in order to understand and do differently."
‘Act of corporate lament and repentance’
"Shaving my head is a symbolic act of corporate lament and repentance, which is absolutely fitting and appropriate, given recent findings on high profile and widespread cases within the church, from across the spectrum of Christian traditions and denominations.
“By shaving my head, I am recognising past and present failures in the church, and the very real harm caused. It is not saying a quick gimmick is sufficient for justice to be done. I know that those who commit abuse should be called to face human justice."
‘Personal statement of intent'
"Shaving my head is also a personal statement of intent, wanting to learn the lessons, and chart a fresh course. I know many in the church share my desire that our communities lead the way in becoming safer and healthier, more open and accountable, communities that are truly welcoming for all.
“Churches are not alone in having failed to protect the vulnerable. We have seen things come out in government, gymnastics, football, Hollywood, the BBC, the workplace, in fact, wherever people gather. The tragedy about the failings in the church is that part of our calling and purpose is to be there for all who have been harmed by abuse, to travel patiently alongside them. We continually strive to do this better."
"Thirtyone:eight is making a real difference in supporting people who have been harmed and in equipping churches to make changes. Shaving my head draws attention to the good work they are doing. Money raised will help more churches to be equipped and supported in becoming healthier and safer places. I am delighted to be partnering with them and grateful to all those who have donated."
Peter Wright, Head of Fundraising and Communications at Thirtyone:eight, said: “We are so grateful that Rev Miller has chosen Thirtyone:eight to benefit from his fundraising challenge. We have been incredibly moved and inspired by the way he has decided to respond to the terrible cases of abuse he has seen in this profoundly symbolic and public way.
“As a charity that receives no government funding, we are extremely grateful for all the donations we receive that enable us to offer our vital services which help to protect children and vulnerable adults from abuse."
For more ways to get involved please consider signing our Safer Places Pledge.