The role of the support person is to:
1. Keep the complainant informed of the process of the case;
2. Help the complainant identify and access counselling and support;
3. Record any meetings or contact they have with the complainant, and pass on relevant information to the DLP, as appropriate;
4. Uphold the seven safeguarding standards in practice and behaviour.
Being attentive to the expressed needs and objectives of the complainant, the support person should:
• Encourage and support the complainant in getting suitable help;
• Be extra mindful of the vulnerability of the complainant during the process.
Clarity about the role
• The support person is not a counsellor for the complainant and should not act in that role.
•The support person should not act as spiritual guide for the complainant.
• The support person does not manage the case file and will not have access to it.
• If the complainant is a child, the support person should liaise with the parents/guardians of the child.
Issues to consider when meeting with complainants
Meeting complainants can be stressful, particularly if there is not an established relationship. Consideration should be given to the following issues:
• Consider a location where both the complainant and you will feel at ease. If you have anxieties about meeting the complainant in their home consider a neutral venue.
• Invite the complainant to be accompanied by a friend.
• Ensure you are accompanied either by another support person or another neutral person who may take notes.
• Advise the complainant that you will have another person with you and that person’s role.
• If meeting in a neutral venue ensure privacy and confidentiality but also consider personal safety issues
• If responsibility rests with you to identify a suitable venue ensure refreshments are available.
• The frequency of contact/meetings should be dictated by the complainant, but the support person needs to initiate contact at least once a year on an ongoing basis, unless the complainant states that they do not want any further contact. This is to ensure that the Bishop continues to make every effort to offer a supportive and pastoral response to complaints.
Storage of records
Information regarding meetings between the support person and the complainant must be stored safely and securely. The following should be used as a guide to information that must be recorded:
• The date and time the meetings took place,
• Any relevant child safeguarding issues that have arisen,
• If the complainant has knowledge of a crime
• If the complainant is suffering from a mental health condition or is suicidal
• Any requests for support or representations that the complainant wishes to make to the Bishop.
A record that the meetings have taken place, along with any relevant child safeguarding issues, should be forwarded to the DLP for placing in the third-party information section of the file. It is advisable to share this record with the respondent prior to sending to the DLP.
Regular meetings between the Support Person and the DLP should be held to enable the DLP to keep up to date with the needs and requests of the complainant, and to advise the Bishop of any requests for support. These meetings should incorporate any requests for supervision, in order to allow the support person to receive feedback on their role. If necessary and appropriate, external support for the support person should be used.
All support persons should attend a local full-day training programme facilitated by trainers registered with the NBSCCCI. The Bishop should ensure that support persons are given the opportunity to attend training provided by the NBSCCCI, in accordance with the NBSCCCI Training Strategy. Both of these training needs should be included in the annual training plan, which is produced by the safeguarding committee.