Safeguarding Service enrolls record number in safety scheme

Rev Dr Karen Campbell
Rev Dr Karen Campbell, Convener of the Church of Scotland Safeguarding committee.

The Church of Scotland's Safeguarding Service has registered more than 28,000 workers and volunteers with the Scottish Government's Protection of Vulnerable Groups scheme.

This means the Church is the third sector organisation with the largest number of people working with children and vulnerable adults.

Disclosure Scotland runs the PVG scheme, which puts each applicant through a criminal records check designed to ensure that everyone who works with children or vulnerable adults is safe to do so.

Many Church volunteers hold more than one post within the Church, so those 28,000 people account for more than 36,000 jobs that require membership of the PVG scheme.

Church of Scotland volunteers and staff help run children's groups, the Boys' Brigade, the Girls' Brigade, youth groups, choirs, music groups, crèches and Sunday Schools.

They provide pastoral care at home for people affected by disability or frailty, day services for people affected by dementia, prison visiting services, and other vital Church-based services throughout Scotland.

The government set a deadline of October 31 for everyone working with children and protected adults to join the PVG scheme.

As a result every month the Church has processed between 800 and 900 applications as part of its safe recruitment processes for volunteers and paid staff.

The Rev Dr Karen Campbell, Convener of the Church of Scotland's Safeguarding Committee said her team began planning the effort 18 months ago.

As well as holding training sessions, the team offered one-to-one support and problem solving to church members completing applications.

Dr Campbell said: "Working to get all of our volunteers onto the PVG scheme has involved a massive effort from the Safeguarding Services Administrative Team, as well as from the 1,800 Safeguarding coordinators that work in congregations around the country.
"They have really gone the extra mile to process these applications."

With 28,000 applications processed to date, the Safeguarding Service is doing everything it can do to make sure every volunteer or worker has PVG-scheme membership, Dr Campbell said.

"An audit underway now is checking to see if we can further improve the way that we work," she added.

"PVG Scheme membership is just one way the Safeguarding Service is working to keep children and adults at risk safe.

"Everyone who works with vulnerable people through the Church also attends safeguarding training.

"They learn that if they witness or even suspect that harm or abuse has occurred they must report it to their Safeguarding Coordinator.

"More than 1,800 Safeguarding Coordinators take the lead in safeguarding, covering every Church congregation.

"Our key messages is - 'If you suspect or witness harm or abuse, or it is reported to you, you must immediately report it to your Safeguarding Coordinator or line manager.'"