Statement of Intent
The Trustees/Directors of CEA are committed to the following:
1. Taking reasonable steps to protect their charity’s beneficiaries, staff, volunteers and those connected with the activities of the charity from harm and where appropriate promote their welfare and well-being.
2. Seeking to create and promote a culture that prioritises safeguarding and communicating a commitment towards that end.
3. Making its services safe for all people aged 13 years and over, regardless of their age or vulnerability, or religious background.
4. Taking appropriate action, using the advice of thirtyone:eight, formerly known as the Churches’ Child Protection Advisory Service, if CEA becomes aware of an enquirer in the UK or Ireland suffering abuse. (See appendix for definitions of abuse.)
5. Ensuring that personnel, including volunteers, who respond to enquirers are made aware of this policy.
6. Reviewing this policy every 3 years or more frequently when advised by thirtyone:eight or the Charity Commission.
CEA Method of Operation
The Christian Enquiry Agency Ltd (CEA) gives free, confidential, reliable and objective information about the Christian faith and its founder, Jesus, to those who seek it. This is done mainly through the website Christianity.org.uk and occasionally through printed materials such as postcards and leaflets. The CEA encourages UK churches and Christian agencies to promote their website URL.
CEA is a charitable company limited by guarantee (Charity Commission number 1153730 and Companies House Number 8302274), responsible to a board of directors who are themselves under the guidance of Churches Together in England, through its Group for Evangelisation.
CEA invites people to make personal contact via an icon on the website. Each person has to say whether they are 13-17 years of age or over 18. The website makes it clear that the CEA does not respond to anyone under 13 years of age. The following types of emails can be generated via the website:
1. asking for printed information about Jesus;
2. sending a prayer request;
3. wanting to find a local church.
These emails go to the CEA Communications Manager. Additionally,
1. the request for printed information is copied to the company that posts it out and with whom there is a data protection agreement;
2. the prayer requests are automatically copied to all Trustees; then prayer letters are sent out monthly to committed supporters with the prayer requests anonymised; 3. an enquirer requesting information about nearby churches will be offered a selection and left to make their own approach to a church.
The remaining option, available via the ‘smiley face’ icon, requests a conversation or allows a specific question about Christianity to be asked. This message is linked directly to GoSquared, where the conversation is continued and stored securely. All Trustees have access to these conversations, although the conversation is taken forward by the CEA Communications Manager. When the conversation is marked as being from a 13-17 year-old, a message goes automatically to the Safeguarding Trustee who can monitor the correspondence.
The CEA recognises that people making use of its services in this way open themselves to risk. Making these conversations transparent to Trustees is designed to protect them. The CEA Trustees recognise the legal and moral duty to act in such a way that enquirers can explore the Christian faith with complete safety. This is true of all enquirers, but particularly of children and young people under 18 and some adults who have vulnerabilities.
There is no follow-up from the CEA from emails or correspondence via GoSquared once the enquirer has ceased replying.
The email address of the CEA Secretary also appears on the website for administrative purposes and is occasionally used by enquirers.
All enquirers’ details arriving by email to the Communications Manager and Secretary are stored securely in the CEA’s Google Professional Account, accessed on password-protected laptops. Trustees receiving the prayer requests via the website are asked to delete these within a week, or within a month if they use webmail.
No telephone or face-to-face contact by CEA staff, Trustees or volunteers is ever made with enquirers. No telephone number appears on the CEA website or printed material. CEA staff, Trustees or volunteers will not send nor respond to private messages from enquirers on social media, nor will enquirers be 'befriended'.
Any post received at the CEA Ltd registered address obviously from enquirers (e.g. postcards from printed campaigns) is forwarded to the Communications Manager. Other post is forwarded to the CEA Ltd Secretary.
The Christian Enquiry Agency has one employee, the Communications Manager, who normally responds to all enquirers. Occasionally volunteers, or a Trustee, are used in this role as well, with the agreement of the Trustee Board. The Government Safeguarding Department has deemed it unnecessary that the Communications Manager and any volunteers responding to enquirers require a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. If responders have a DBS certificate registered with the DBS Update Service, they will be asked to provide the information allowing that to be checked before any work for the CEA is undertaken.
Normally, responders will be clergy and lay people accredited by one of the denominations that are part of Churches Together in England. As such they are subject to their denomination safeguarding procedures. In this case, the CEA will keep a record of recent denominational safeguarding training and DBS checks. For non-clergy responders, approved by the Trustees, a Self-declaration Safeguarding Form must be completed and any DBS Certificate from a church or professional context shown and noted. In the absence of any Certificate, a signed character witness statement from the local church leader must be provided.
All responders should sign an annual Self-Declaration Safeguarding Form at the time of the AGM and any further safeguarding training recorded.
To protect responders from being identified easily by enquirers and be put at risk of inappropriate contact themselves, they may be accorded a measure of anonymity in replying to enquirers on Go Squared using a pseudonym, known by the Trustees.
One Trustee will be appointed annually as the Safeguarding Trustee, and another the Assistant Safeguarding Trustee, for matters relating to the protection of young people aged 13 years up to 18 years and vulnerable adults. The Safeguarding Trustee will ensure the checks for the Communications Manager and all responders are made and annual Self-Declaration Safeguarding Forms maintained. When the Safeguarding Trustee is also a responder, the
Chairperson will see the necessary documents for him/her.
All the Trustees should have undertaken safeguarding training within the last 5 years and a record kept by the Safeguarding Trustee. All Trustees should sign an Annual Self-Declaration Safeguarding Form at the same time as the Annual Trustee Declaration at the time of the AGM.
Any allegations made against a staff member, responder or Trustee, must be reported to both the Safeguarding Trustee and the Chairperson. If this is a safeguarding issue, in the case of an accredited clergy person information will be passed on to the appropriate denomination; otherwise advice will be sought from the agency thirtyone:eight.
The CEA retains the services of the agency thirtyone:eight for an annual fee. The thirtyone:eight helpline 0303 003 1111 is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
Any responder who thinks an enquirer may be experiencing abuse should inform the Safeguarding Trustee who will use this service immediately. If the Safeguarding Trustee cannot be contacted, then any responder should use the service themselves and follow the advice.
Training at various levels is offered by thirtyone:eight, including training for Trustees.
Through the provisions of thirtyone:eight and the Charity Commission, the Safeguarding Trustee will keep up to date with developments in issues relating to the protection of young people and vulnerable adults and bring these to the attention of Trustees, staff and volunteers.
Any information from enquirers relating to safeguarding matters, even when no action has needed to be taken, plus any advice from thirtyone:eight, should be stored securely online indefinitely.
Safeguarding Information on the CEA Website
On appropriate pages on the website, or in reply to an enquirer:
➢ anyone in danger in an abusive relationship should be advised to dial 999 ➢ children wanting to report abuse should be directed to Child Line number 0800 1111 or www.Childline.org.uk
➢ any teenager or adult should report abuse by contacting their Local Safeguarding Partnership (LSP) (it may be possible to provide a phone number if the location is known), or contact the police on 999 for a recent assault, or on 101 otherwise.
A link to a shorter, simplified version of this Safeguarding Policy, particularly as it related to 13- 17s, should be in readable language on the website with a link from the homepage. This full policy can be made available from firstname.lastname@example.org .
The Website Content
All material published on Christianity.org.uk will be edited by the Communications Manager. Alongside checking that the material is acceptable to the broad range of traditions and denominations recognised by Churches Together in England, consideration will be made of whether it could be regarded as abusive of any individual or group. Trustees have a role in monitoring this. Public complaints can be made to email@example.com .
Social Media Content and Responses
Social media content may be outsourced but the content must comply with this policy and be monitored by Trustees. Anyone wanting a response from the CEA will be directed to the website. There will be no written responses in social media.
Additional Procedures for Enquirers below 18 years of age
Enquirers who make personal contact with CEA will be required to indicate their age if they are below 18 years of age. In accordance with GDPR guidance in 2018, there will be no ongoing correspondence with anyone less than 13 years old.
CEA recognises the overriding importance of allowing young people to access its services in a way that is safe. Threats to their safety could come internally from the organisation, or externally from those who oppose their contact with the organisation. Responses to 13-17s will normally be made only by the Communications Manager, not a volunteer, and monitored by the Safeguarding Trustee.
Dealing with Vulnerable Adults (see Appendix for definitions)
CEA operates in a non-discriminatory way. Unlike 13-17s, vulnerable adults will not be invited to identify themselves but the responder should be sensitive to this possibility.
It is recognised that during the course of an email conversation some people emerge as having specific vulnerabilities. Adults who contact CEA in appreciable numbers include prisoners, homosexual people who have been rejected by the Christian church, Christians whose experience of church has left them wounded, and people with mental health issues. For the purposes of this policy, these people are recognised as vulnerable.
Particular sensitivity is taken over these groups. Responses to them will comply with UK legislation, and will be conducted without any prejudice whatever. It will be reiterated in conversation that CEA is unable to give advice that might be construed as counselling or pastoral guidance, but is restricted to giving information about the broad spectrum of Christian beliefs in such a way as to encourage enquirers to encounter Jesus.
Enquirers from outside the UK and Ireland
The internet knows no national borders, and it is inevitable that enquiries to CEA will also come from outside the UK and Ireland. It is recognised by CEA that the services of thirtyone:eight are available only regarding residents of the UK and Ireland.
In particular, the CEA is aware that an appreciable number of enquiries come from Muslims living outside the UK who report abuse they are experiencing as a result of their interest in the Christian faith. For the purposes of this policy these people are treated as vulnerable adults, and their enquiries will be replied to with exceptional sensitivity. However, tragic though these circumstances are, CEA will not be able to respond to disclosures of abuse that emanate from outside the UK or Ireland.
Appendix - Definitions
1. Definition of Child and Vulnerable Adult
2. Definitions of Abuse (Children)
3. Definitions of Abuse (Vulnerable Adults)
4. Further Definition of Abuse - Spiritual Abuse
1. Definition of Child and Vulnerable Adult
Safeguarding legislation applies to anyone under the age of 18 because this is the legal definition of a child in the UK. The Human Rights Act 1998 states that adults (someone who is over 18) should also be free from abuse. The Department of Health and Home Office (March 2000) states a vulnerable person (also known as ‘an adult at risk’) includes someone who is unable to protect him or herself against significant exploitation.
2. Definitions of Abuse (Children) in England
(Similar definitions for Wales, Scotland and N Ireland)
Children may be abused in a family or in an institutional or community setting, by those known to them or, more rarely, by a stranger for example, via the internet. They may be abused by an adult or adults, or another child or children. Children might describe:
Physical abuse may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating, or otherwise causing physical harm to a child. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer fabricates the symptoms of, or deliberately induces, illness in a child.
Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional maltreatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development. It may involve conveying to children that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person. It may include not giving the child opportunities to express their views, deliberately silencing them or ‘making fun’ of what they say or how they communicate. It may feature age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children. These may include interactions that are beyond the child’s developmental capability, as well as overprotection and limitation of exploration and learning, or preventing the child participating in normal social interaction. It may involve seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another. It may involve serious bullying (including cyberbullying), causing children frequently to feel frightened or in danger, or the exploitation or corruption of children. Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of maltreatment of a child, though it may occur alone.
Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, not necessarily involving a high level of violence, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including assault by penetration (for example, rape or oral sex) or non-penetrative acts such as masturbation, kissing, rubbing and touching outside of clothing. They may also include non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of, sexual images, watching sexual activities, encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways, or grooming a child in preparation for abuse (including via the internet). Sexual abuse is not solely perpetrated by adult males. Women can also commit acts of sexual abuse, as can other children.
Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development. Neglect may occur during pregnancy as a result of maternal substance abuse. Once a child is born, neglect may involve a parent or carer failing to:
• provide adequate food, clothing and shelter (including exclusion from home or abandonment);
• protect a child from physical and emotional harm or danger;
• ensure adequate supervision (including the use of inadequate care-givers); or • ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment.
It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs.
3. Definitions of Abuse (Vulnerable Adults)
The following definition of abuse is laid down in ‘No Secrets: Guidance on developing and implementing multi-agency policies and procedures to protect vulnerable adults from abuse (Department of Health 2000): ‘Abuse is a violation of an individual’s human and civil rights by any other person or persons. In giving substance to that statement, however, consideration needs to be given to a number of factors:
Abuse may consist of a single act or repeated acts. It may be physical, verbal or psychological, it may be an act of neglect or an omission to act, or it may occur when a vulnerable person is persuaded to enter into a financial or sexual transaction to which he or she has not consented, or cannot consent. Abuse can occur in any relationship and may result in significant harm to, or exploitation of, the person subjected to it’.
This is the infliction of pain or physical injury, which is either caused deliberately, or through lack of care.
This is the involvement in sexual activities to which the person has not consented or does not truly comprehend and so cannot give informed consent, or where the other party is in a position of trust, power or authority and uses this to override or overcome lack of consent. Psychological or Emotional Abuse
These are acts or behaviour, which cause mental distress or anguish or negates the wishes of the vulnerable adult. It is also behaviour that has a harmful effect on the vulnerable adult’s emotional health and development or any other form of mental cruelty. Financial or Material Abuse
This is the inappropriate use, misappropriation, embezzlement or theft of money, property or possessions.
Neglect or Act of Omission
This is the repeated deprivation of assistance that the vulnerable adult needs for important activities of daily living, including the failure to intervene in behaviour which is dangerous to the vulnerable adult or to others. A vulnerable person may be suffering from neglect when their general well being or development is impaired.
This is the inappropriate treatment of a vulnerable adult because of their age, gender, race, religion, cultural background, sexuality, disability etc. Discriminatory abuse exists when values, beliefs or culture result in a misuse of power that denies opportunity to some groups or individuals. Discriminatory abuse links to all other forms of abuse.
This is the mistreatment or abuse of a vulnerable adult by a regime or individuals within an institution (e.g. hospital or care home) or in the community. It can be through repeated acts of poor or inadequate care and neglect or poor professional practice.
4. Further Definition of Abuse - Spiritual Abuse
Linked with emotional abuse, spiritual abuse could be defined as an abuse of power, often done in the name of God or religion, which involves manipulating or coercing someone into thinking, saying or doing things without respecting their right to choose for themselves. Some indicators of spiritual abuse might be a leader who is intimidating and imposes his/her will on other people, perhaps threatening dire consequences or the wrath of God if disobeyed. He or she may say that God has revealed certain things to them and so they know what is right. Those under their leadership are fearful to challenge or disagree, believing they will lose the leader's (or more seriously God's) acceptance and approval.