Pilgrimages

Recognising that pilgrimages are a journey taken together which promotes a mixture of feelings including hope, expectation, nervousness, anticipation, excitement, joy, happiness and love there is a heightened potential for safeguarding issues to be reported during such events. Responding to them correctly is vital for keeping the victim safe but may be more difficult due to dealing with a foreign country’s procedures and language or by simply being in an unfamiliar area. Therefore to reduce the possibility of a safeguarding situation occurring and thus creating a safer environment the following guidelines are offered as advice to creating a one church approach whilst on a pilgrimage.

Do:

  • Make sure that you have received up to date training on child and vulnerable adult safeguarding before commencing the pilgrimage;
  • Make sure that you can recognise all forms of abuse and know how to deal with it appropriately;
  • Seek advice from the designated safeguarding officer if you are not sure what to do when you see or a safeguarding incident is reported to you;
  • Challenge unacceptable behaviour and report allegations and suspicions;
  • Follow national guidelines and procedures www.csasprocedures.uk.net in conjunction with your own local instructions.
  • Treat people how you would expect people to treat you by demonstrating dignity and respect;
  • Be an example you wish others to follow, remembering that your actions or words could be misinterpreted no matter how well intentioned;
  • Promote an environment and atmosphere where others can challenge unacceptable behaviour;
  • Respect people’s right to privacy.

Don’t:

  • Have any inappropriate physical or verbal contact with others;
  • Allow, encourage or engage in any form of inappropriate touching;
  • Make inappropriate sexually suggestive comments to a protected pilgrim, even in fun;
  • Use inappropriate language around a protected pilgrim;
  • Fail to act upon and record any allegations of abuse made by a protected pilgrim;
  • Do things of a personal nature for a protected pilgrim that they can comfortably do for themselves;
  • Speak to any pilgrim in a way that could cause offence or upset;
  • Use any form of physical restraint during the care of a protected pilgrim.

On receiving an allegation of abuse always:

  • Ensure the immediate safety of the child or vulnerable adult making the disclosure;
  • Listen and don’t ask questions;
  • Do not promise confidentiality;
  • Accept what you are being told without interruption;
  • Record the facts as you have been told them and then pass the information on to the designated safeguarding officer;
  • Contact the Police if there is immediate danger.

Whatever the reason, abuse is always wrong and is never the fault of the child, young person or vulnerable adult.

It is important that all pilgrimage volunteers who are undertaking regulated activity as defined by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) are checked with this service to the appropriate level and that each DBS certificate is produced by the pilgrim to an appropriate person managing this process. The production of the DBS certificate should take place before the pilgrimage commences. Therefore each pilgrimage director should ensure that DBS checks are:

  • Managed through appropriate timely systems to enable DBS checks are completed before the pilgrimage begins;
  • Within date and therefore compliant with the Diocesan / Religious Order Policy;
  • Accompanied by a self-declaration each year the pilgrim makes the pilgrimage;
  • Managed via a risk assessment process should the DBS certificate be blemished.

In addition to the DBS check being undertaken, the Pilgrimage Director should ensure that where parental consent is required that such consent has been obtained.

Every pilgrimage director will afford training to their pilgrims to ensure that protected pilgrims are offered the safest pilgrimage possible. Therefor it is vital that all pilgrims who have volunteered to perform a role are trained adequately for the role they have volunteered to do. Each pilgrimage director should ensure the following:

Training is:

  • Of the highest quality for the activity to be performed;
  • Delivered by appropriately trained trainers in a variety of ways to ensure learning;
  • Reviewed regularly to ensure that it meets current best practice;
  • Recorded and a record of it is retained in line with Diocesan / Religious Order record retention policy.
  • Providing clarity of roles to ensure that each pilgrim knows what to do on the pilgrimage.

Safeguarding training is equally important and therefore all pilgrimage directors should ensure that the training is:

  • Delivered by suitably qualified persons OR the CSAS electronic safeguarding module has been completed;
  • Recorded and a record of it is retained in line with Diocesan / Religious Order record retention policy.

During the pilgrimage there should be one person in overall command of the pilgrimage each day and night. That person should be identifiable to those he / she will manage. It is this person that will take overall responsibility for ensuring that the pilgrimage is safe and that all health, safeguarding and health and safety issues have been addressed. To assist with this task the overall person in charge can discharge various duties to other managers who should be identifiable to pilgrims who are assisting protected pilgrims.

The overall manager should brief his staff each day and night and ensure that all pilgrims should know the following:

  • How to obtain assistance in an an emergency including emergency telephone numbers;
  • How to report incidents;
  • How to deal with incidents;
  • Who the designated person on duty is to deal with health, safeguarding and health and safety incidents.

It is also incumbent upon the pilgrimage director to ensure that the pilgrimage has been risk assessed by a competent and trained person and that the risk assessments for the pilgrimage including personal risk assessment plans for protected pilgrims are adhered to. The risk assessments should be retained in line with the Diocesan / Religious Order document retention policy.

If an incident is reported that needs the involvement of the local police then the pilgrimage director should be aware, before the pilgrimage commences, of the local contact point for the police and how to report the incident.

It is important not to lose any learning from the pilgrimage, whether that may be from practice and procedures, safeguarding or dealing with incidents etc., and therefore it is encouraged that a debriefing meeting should take place within a month of the end of the pilgrimage led by the pilgrimage director. Such learning should influence procedural reviews which should be undertaken immediately for the next pilgrimage.

The whole pilgrimage programme should be reviewed at least every two years in the absence of a Diocesan / Religious Order policy.