Diocese asking for voices of church sex abuse survivors to be heard

An appeal has gone out for the voices of survivors of abuse in a church context to be heard.

An independent review of all past safeguarding cases related to Church of England churches in the region wants to ensure that survivors’ voices are heard.

All dioceses nationally are taking part in the Church of England’s Past Cases Review 2 including the Diocese of Lichfield, which is home to more than 500 churches in Staffordshire, Stoke-on-Trent, Shropshire and the Black Country.

Lichfield Diocese was also one of seven dioceses identified as needing to carry out further work to provide an updated and comprehensive version of the first Past Cases Review published in 2010.

The diocese covers Staffordshire, the Black Country and north Shropshire.

Dawn Williams, the independent chair of Lichfield Diocese’s Safeguarding Scrutiny Committee, said listening to the voices of people who survived abuse as adults or children was a vital element of the review.

She said: "You may have suffered abuse in a church context and not felt able to come forward.

"It may be that you did report abuse and would like to share how you felt your complaint was handled at the time.

"Possibly, a member of your family was abused and you want to speak on their behalf.

"Whatever the circumstances, the Church wants to learn from your experience."

Independent reviewers, who have professional experience of safeguarding and are from outside the diocese, began the wide-ranging work in 2019.

By the time the review finishes later this year they will have looked at over 2,000 files, spanning as far back as the 1960s.

This number includes all historic safeguarding case files, concerns raised by parishes during the review and all personnel files for current and retired clergy, plus others who have ‘permission to officiate’ at churches in the diocese, and lay church officers.

People who have information or experiences that may be relevant to the review should contact the Diocesan Safeguarding Team on 01543 306030 or email Diocesan safeguarding adviser Neil Spiring at neil.spiring@lichfield.anglican.org

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