The Session Clerk, Mr Fergus Stewart, is our Safeguarding Coordinator.
It is the responsibility of each individual within the Church of Scotland to prevent the physical, sexual or emotional abuse of children, young people and vulnerable adults. Thus, our church has a Safeguarding Committee whose main activities involve the registration and training of voluntary workers and the support of individuals and organisations in our congregation.
So, for example, if you should wish to offer your help with a music group, you cannot just waltz in and take up the reins. All volunteers will experience a vetting procedure. Regrettably, safe recruitment is not environment-friendly. A paper mountain is created. On presenting yourself to the Safeguarding Coordinator you will receive standard church forms to record your details and you must provide the names of two people who can be contacted to act as referees in support of your application. Of course, you will be interviewed.
Why so careful?
Why such a seemingly complicated system? A moment’s reflection will make you appreciate that, should even one incident of abuse occur, the confidence which the congregation and the wider public have in the voluntary workers within our organisations will be shaken to the core. We protect ourselves by thoroughly screening all volunteers in order to reduce the risk to those in our charge.
99.9% of volunteers have no difficulty up to this point. However, if you are fond of using correction fluid you may have a trying time when completing the Disclosure Scotland form for your criminal record check. If you make a mistake, you are not allowed a “whitewash” to obliterate it. You need to start a new form. Our record is four attempts at it! The Coordinator also requires to see photographic ID, e.g. passport or photo driving licence and a recent utility bill as evidence of address.