Safeguarding Sunday resources

15 November 2023

By Carolyn Godfrey, Vice-President designate of the Conference 2024-25

As winter approaches we think of darker nights, fog and ice when travelling, the boiler needing a service before it gets too cold, and digging out sensible shoes and clothes appropriate for the weather.  We want to feel safe when there is darkness around us and when we have to travel. This is then an interesting time of year chosen by Thirtyone:Eight* for Safeguarding Sunday. 

Within psychology, safety is seen as a basic human need. We are hardwired to want to feel safe.  This exhibits itself in a whole range of ways, from checking the tyres on our cars and making sure the boiler is safe and working well at the start of the winter, to that deep-seated need for safety in our relationships and our faith communities. 

In our churches, projects and communities we all want to feel safe and valued. As a Methodist people,and as individuals, we all have a part to play in making that happen. Creating safe spaces is a step toward meeting that fundamental need.  Sometimes this may require letting go of something important to make space for something that makes others feel safe. This may just mean we need to be flexible in our thinking and recognise that not everyone experiences the world like we do. Experiences in the past and present will inform what we need to make us feel safe. We all need to listen and create the opportunity for quiet voices to be heard, and let those voices inform what we do. 

Included in the Thirtyone:eight Safeguarding Sunday material is a short video on safeguarding culture. Culture is the customs and beliefs of a particular group of people at a point in time.  It is often what speaks loudest about a group of people through both what is said and unsaid. The culture of safeguarding in our churches, projects and communities is what will be heard by those who desire a safe space and to feel included.  

The video refers to the culture as being like the soil we plant a seed.  It can take work to create the best soil for a seed to flourish in. Creating a good safeguarding culture also takes work. John Wesley exhorts us to “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can”.  This is not a passive exhortation but an active one. Changing culture and creating safe spaces is not a passive thing.  It takes work and often sacrificial changes. 

Safeguarding Sunday is that opportunity during the year to bring these reflections into the heart of our worship time together. We may choose not to do this on the 19 November but at a different point in the year. This is, however, a chance to ask what our culture of safeguarding is, how can we listen better, and how can we help to create spaces that meet that fundamental human need to feel safe.

To get access to the free Safeguarding Sunday resources follow the link on the Thirtyone:eight website - thirtyoneeight.org


* Thirtyone:eight are a Christian organisation, inspired to 'speak out on behalf of the voiceless, and for the rights of all who are vulnerable' as it says in Proverbs 31:8 from where they get their name. They offer a range of safeguarding support services.