"Nothing is more important to us than the safety and wellbeing of children". This, or something like it, is often said by people in the church, with great (and genuine) sincerity. In order to make good on these intentions, however, a structured way of developing our safeguarding practice must be in place. Importantly, this structure must be grounded in the local church - the heart of our mission and the place where our work with both adults and children takes place.
Simple Quality Protects (SQP) is a tool being introduced across the Diocese of Chichester, to be used by parishes and churches to assess how well they're doing with their safeguarding practice and provision, to improve, and to demonstrate that improvement.
It is probably easiest to think of SQP like a safeguarding 'kitemark' scheme: it provides a set of easily-understood standards, arranged around three Levels and four Themes. It also provides the guidance and resources to help churches meet those standards: the Diocese of Chichester SQP scheme has been carefully designed to help churches out, not catch them out!
The four Themes around which our SQP programme is structured are as follows:
Safe Activities: Ensuring that our basic day-to-day activities in church are safe. This Theme covers things like first-aid-kits, and risk-assessment for activities. It is the most 'practical' of the themes.
Safe Practice: This Theme focuses on ensuring that churches operate as safely as possible in their interaction with children and adults. It covers things like codes of behaviour, and how to respond to concerns.
Safe Structures: This Theme looks at the policies adopted by the PCC, and also at how the incumbent and PCC monitor compliance with those policies. This Theme is primarily about the governance of the parish, and how that supports good safeguarding.
Safe People: This theme focuses on safer recruitment - making sure that the people who work or volunteer in our churches with children and adults are suitable people to do so. It covers DBS checks, and also references, induction, training, and the like.
There are three Levels in SQP: unsurprisingly, these are Levels 1, 2, and 3. Level 1 is the foundation Level which we expect every church in the Diocese to be able to achieve relatively soon upon the introduction of the SQP programme, although to ensure this is the case we are giving until Easter 2018 for this to be achieved across the Diocese. For many churches, looking at the list of items in Level 1 should be quite encouraging, as they will already have much of what is listed there in place! Level 1 has been designed so that it includes everything that a church needs to have in place to be considered 'safe'. (Recognising that risk can never be entirely removed, but that it is possible to take all steps to minimise risk). We suggest that Level 1 should be considered 'good practice', and Levels 2 and 3 should be thought of as 'best practice'.
The details of how to begin with SQP are in the User Guide in the next section. We want to emphasise here though, in the introduction, that all the resources you need to achieve Level 1 (with Levels 2 and 3 released soon), across all four Themes, are contained within this website in easily-downloadable and printable formats. We hope that we have designed this programme to make excellence in safeguarding in the local church achievable without an enormous amount of effort or bureaucracy.