2022 'Speaking Truth: Voices of Survivors of Child Abuse' Webinar Series

Two informative and thought-provoking webinars were held in early 2022 with planning by the Methodist Survivors’ Advisory Group members for an audience across the Methodist Church:

Wed 19 January 2022, 11am – 12:30pm    Webinar 1 - Hearing Reality: Voices Crying in The Wilderness

In the first webinar – ‘Hearing Reality: Voices Crying in the Wilderness’, we heard something of the history and prevalence of childhood abuse in this country. We learned of the impact of abuse upon survivors, both how it affects them throughout their childhood but also the long-term effects of abuse throughout the life course of the survivor. We also heard firsthand from survivors of abuse, sharing their stories and how they found hope. We heard the history of the Methodist Church’s response to survivors of abuse and our ongoing work to improve and learn from the voices of people who have experienced abuse.

Wed 23 February 2022, 11am – 12:30pm    Webinar 2 - The Church’s Response to Survivors: From Stumbling Block to Stepping Stone

In the second webinar – ‘The Church’s Response to Survivors: From Stumbling Block to Stepping Stone’, we were introduced to a consideration of the theology of safeguarding and how erroneous interpretations of scripture have been used to justify suffering or to force survivors to forgive. We learned how childhood abuse affects future faith and the survivor’s understanding of God and church. We looked at aspects of traditional church, including language, which can be harmful to survivors. We heard from survivors about their experiences, including alternative modes of church which they have found helpful. We looked at the Methodist Church’s work, both to make our churches safer spaces and to respond better to survivors of abuse within our congregations.

These webinars are aimed at a broad audience from Safeguarding Officers and those in leadership roles to anyone wishing to learn how to be more welcoming and inclusive towards survivors of abuse within our church.


Vivien Almond is a survivor of childhood abuse, sexual and emotional, a Local Preacher in the Methodist Church and a campaigner for better understanding and treatment of survivors of abuse. She has worked with survivors for many years, supporting them on the rollercoaster journey from a broken, abused person to a thriving survivor. Vivien is involved in trying to make the Methodist Church a safer more understanding place to be, through teaching Safeguarding training, and being active on Circuit/District/Connexional Safeguarding committees. She is passionate about changing perceptions regarding those who still don’t believe abuse happens.

Detective Inspector Chris Banks has 16 years’ policing experience, 11 of which has been as a Detective and six have been working in the world of safeguarding and child protection, including serving on the Child Abuse Investigation Team, Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub and the Public Protection Unit. He is currently the Staff Officer to the Chief Constable of Norfolk.

Penny Johnson is an accredited counsellor with eighteen years’ experience working therapeutically with survivors of trauma and abuse and has published articles around this subject. She has led weekend retreats for women survivors at Holy Rood House, a Christian pastoral centre in Yorkshire, and day retreats at Touchstone, a Methodist Centre in Bradford.

Fiona McIntosh is a survivor of abuse who contacted the Methodist Church Safeguarding Team after the Past Cases Review. She kept the secret of her abuse for decades before finally pursuing a successful prosecution against the perpetrator. She often felt like a "voice crying in the wilderness" because the Wilderness was the only place she could be alone to cry freely.

Bethany Morriss is a carer for children and young adults, with over ten years’ experience within the care industry. Her career has involved working with vulnerable adults and children, with a particular emphasis on caring for those with learning disabilities.

Deacon Jenny Parnell is a member of the Methodist Diaconal Order and has ministered in West Yorkshire and West Sussex. She has a heart for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, due in part to living and working with her own diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. Jenny also has a heart for listening to and supporting those who have suffered abuse. She is keen to encourage people to gain a deeper understanding of the experiences of others whilst reflecting upon our Church theology to inform our responses both practically and spiritually.

Col Ritson is a survivor of family and clergy abuse. She trained and worked in youth work until changing career to become a therapist. She has worked to support survivors for 30 years as a way to use her difficult childhood experiences, to bring good out of evil behaviour. Col is also a lay pastor working in Churches Action On Sexual Abuse Issues (CASAI) which is a ministry for survivors of sexual abuse in Liverpool. Col has a passion for empowering those who have been, and still are, excluded and oppressed by traditional church.

Grahame Snelling is currently a part-time job-share casework supervisor with the Connexional Safeguarding Team, and was previously the DSO in both Sheffield and London Districts between 2013 and 2018. He is also an Associate with 31:8 and more recently completed a two year project with the Diocese of Sheffield to complete their Past Cases Review 2 programme. Between 2014 and 2017, Grahame pioneered some development work for the C of E that laid the foundations for the current Safe Spaces project supported by that denomination. With Kate Little, he jointly leads on the Connexional Safeguarding Team’s survivor work focus. Grahame’s professional background is in Children’s Services, and before retirement in 2013 was a Head of Service in a London Borough. 

Helen White is a social worker with experience and a particular interest in working with survivors of abuse.