Everyone who becomes involved in dealing with child abuse requires support. This is most obvious for the person who has been abused but those whose task it is to assist complainants and their families, or to assist respondents and their families, or to act as Parish Safeguarding Representatives or Trainers or in any other Child Safeguarding capacity, need to be supported.
In addition, some of these people also need professional supervision
The term ‘support’ includes a number of different activities, which allow a person:
- To give encouragement to someone or something because you want them or it to succeed:To help someone emotionally or in a practical way. It can be provided in a face-to-face meeting, or by phone calls, emails etc. It is supportive to let someone know that they are being thought about positively, and that they can seek to be assisted if they need this.
Appropriate support will be made available to all of those affected by child safeguarding in the Church including:
- The complainant and their family
- The respondent and their family
- Lay faithful who have been affected by an allegation of abuse
- Priests/Religious who are not the respondent, but who have been affected by an allegation of abuse against a colleague
- Safeguarding personnel
The nature of the support provided will depend on the need expressed and/or identified. It may vary from outreach, where the initiative is taken to contact and stay in touch, to the provision of information, making counselling available or providing and facilitating a support group. One way of offering support to priests and safeguarding personnel is through line management accountability.
Line management accountability
- In the Church context this can be described as:
- A process designed for an individual to work with their line manager to ensure and develop the efficacy of working situations;
- An arrangement to discuss work regularly with this person, formally and informally. Meetings with a line manager provide the opportunity to consider the individual’s actions and behaviours and feelings about their work, together with the line manager’s reactions, comments and challenges. The goal is to ensure that the recipient of the Church’s service response is well served.
- Another means of providing support to an individual priest, religious or safeguarding personnel is through (professional) supervision.
Relevant members of Church personnel who have responsibility for safeguarding children will be given the opportunity to attend regular supervision sessions with an appropriate person.
The Diocese will ensure that an appropriate supervision structure is in place.
According to Hawkins and Shohet (2000), Supervision can have three interrelated functions:
- The educative function – which is concerned with developing the skills, understanding and abilities of the supervisee;
- The supportive function– which is concerned with allowing the supervisee to consider the emotional impact of their role on them;
- The managerial function– which provides accountability and ‘quality control’ in work with people
Research indicates that supervision has a number of positive impacts, including: that good supervision is associated with job satisfaction, commitment to the organisation and retention. supervision appears to help reduce staff turnover and is significantly linked to employees’ perceptions of the support they receive from the organisation. good supervision is correlated with perceived worker effectiveness. There is some evidence that group supervision can increase critical thinking.
Supervision works best when it pays attention to task assistance, social and emotional support and that workers have a positive relationship with supervisors.
The emotionally charged nature of the work can place particular demands on people in the field. It is important to provide opportunities for reflective supervision. (SCIE, 2012)
Initially a person is chosen who:
- You believe you can relate to;
- You believe you can trust;
- Has the right skills ;
This can be a mentor, or an external supervisor. If you are already receiving good line management, then supervision with a different person can prioritise the other two areas of education and support.
A contract or written agreement is produced which covers:
- Frequency of supervision;
- An agreed meeting place;
- A shared understanding of confidentiality;
At the supervision session:
- The supervisee identifies relevant issues that emerged in their work, especially issues that were difficult to deal with;
- The supervisor encourages the supervisee to look at other possible ways of responding to the work issues that they have identified, by reflecting on questions like: – What was happening to the supervisee as they worked? – What was the relationship like between the supervisee and the people they worked with?
- Learning objectives are set to assist the supervisee on their work.
- Set milestones are agreed by when the supervision process will be evaluated.
It is important that the supervisor and supervisee maintain an agreed record of supervision in line with guidelines on the storage and protection of data. As a minimum, a record should be kept of the dates and times that supervision was carried out.