Welcome to the London District of the Methodist Church


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As the people of the Methodist Church, we are concerned with the wholeness of each individual within God’s purpose for everyone.

We seek to safeguard people of all ages involved in District events and to encourage Circuits and churches actively to promote policies to ensure that all are safeguarded in the day to day life of the Church.

It is the responsibility of each one of us to protect children, young people and vulnerable adults from harm including physical, financial, spiritual, sexual and emotional abuse and neglect. We also strive to affirm, encourage and support those working with them.

For further information or querys please contact the London District Office.


Safeguarding in the London District

Welcome to the safeguarding pages of the London District website. Here you will find our District Policy, which is reviewed annually, so that readers will see the scope of our safeguarding practice and how we aim to support circuits and individual churches to maintain their own best practice.

We also include details of the local and regional training opportunities that are on offer, as well as a link to the Connexional Methodist Church safeguarding website which is a rich source of information and advice. This site also provides numerous templates to help local churches develop and write their own policies.

In 2018, our pages will shortly include advice on safer recruitment practice and a link to our latest guide to DBS eligibility.

We have included a section on on-line resources you can access to provide advice about safeguarding concersn you may come across

Finally we will also post news items here about District, local authority or national initiatives to keep you right up to date with key developments in this key area of the church’s work. We will also publish links to these in the Weekly News published by the District office.

London District Safeguarding Officer

Grahame Snelling, 07960 877740


Postal address is as for the District Office

Grahame works 28 hours per week for the District

Connexional Safeguarding Information, Policy and Resources

The safeguarding pages of the Methodist Church website provides a wide range of information and on line resources that can help local churches develop and review their policy and practice, to ensure that they provide safe spaces and communities for children and vulnerable adults.

You will find the latest Safe Recruitment Policy that was first published in June 2013, together with the associated 2015 DBS guidance. Here you will also find details of the revised Connexional policy published in April 2017 that will help you with the development and review of local church or circuit policies It includes templates for your use.

Full details of all Creating Safer Space trainin is also included here.  This includes access to Foundation Module, Refresher and Leadership Module material.


Latest News in Safeguarding

  • Annual District Conference – March 10th 2018 at Westminster Central Hall.  Our theme is ‘Safeguarding – Moving Stories’.  Booking through the ‘Eventbrite’ on line ticketing arrangement from mid-January.  Details here.
  • The next meeting of the District Safeguarding Group will be on January 31st 2018.The DSG provides advice, guidance and support to the DSO and offers leadership of the District’s safeguarding agenda
  • National Safeguarding Conference for DSOs and DSG members takes place on February 7/8th near Stratford upon Avon. The theme is ‘Partnership – Breadth, Challenge and Opportunity’
  • April 2018 - launch of the Advanced Level Safeguarding Course (replacing the Leadership Module). We are working with DMLN colleagues to plan the roll out of this training and will publish our plans at the end of January.  You will be able to get the details here.
  • Circuit visits – Grahame aims to visit each circuit by the summer of 2018. If your circuit does not yet have a date please contact Grahame to arrange a convenient date and time


Future Training Dates

  • March 10th 2018 - District Conference 10 am -3.30 pm
  • Other training dates for Creating Safer Space and Train the Trainer training will be published here shortly 

To register for these courses please contact Grahame Snelling DSO directly


Safeguarding Resources


1. Connexional Safeguarding Information, Policy and Resources

The safeguarding pages of the Methodist Church website provides a wide range of information and on line resources that can help local churches develop and review their policy and practice, to ensure that they provide safe spaces and communities for children and vulnerable adults.


You will find the latest Safe Recruitment Policy that was first published in June 2013, together with the associated 2015 DBS guidance. Here you will also find details of the revised Connexional policy published in April 2017 that will help you with the development and review of local church or circuit policies It includes templates for your use.

Full details of all Creating Safer Space training is also included here.  This includes access to Foundation Module, Refresher and current Leadership Module material.


2. National Resources – on line abuse

As they become available we will post links to areas of specialist information and guidance.  Here is a link to the CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre) which is particularly concerned with preventing online abise of children.


3. District and other local resources

The local authority in which you live or where your church is located is required to publicise advice and guidance to the wider community informing members of how they can respond to concerns about a child or adult at risk.  Each local authority has an Adult Safeguarding Board (ASB) or Local Safeguarding Children’s Board (LSCB) and you can find details of these by ‘googling’ the name of your authority and the abbreviations above.  There you will usually find a section about what to do and whom to contact if you have a concern as well as details of basic training courses that are free to community groups. However unless in an emergency please do not make referrals about safeguarding concerns in churches without contacting Grahame Snelling as DSO in the first instance.  

Vulnerable adult guide – we have included here a link to a guide that was produced in Sheffield District in 2014 when Grahame worked there. It’s a best practice safeguarding guide that you may find useful. It is copyright so please do not print and distribute – it’s simply here for reference and inspiration.  In due course we will draft a London guide as this is something that many people have asked for.


Coming Soon

District Safeguarding Policy

A refreshed version of the current District Policy will be published here in February 2018

Safer Recruitment and DBS updates

To follow


Weekly Safeguarding Blog

A reputational crisis caused by a safeguarding failure

13 February 2018

Oxfam’s current predicament is potentially very significant for the whole of the charity aid sector, and its own reputation has taken a serious hit.  Reports in papers today (February 13th) also suggest that safeguarding concerns also extend beyond those widely reported in Haiti and Chad to the abuse of a small number of young people who volunteered in local shops, at the hands of adult volunteers.  12 reported cases between 2012 and 2014.

Oxfam is a long established national charity with a previously well respected brand and yet it now finds itself under intense scrutiny for failing to report fully concerning incidents to the Charity Commission, apparently failing to listen to what some of its staff were telling senior managers and not handling the allegations properly. The Charity Commission has now launched a statutory enquiry. 

The reputational damage that Oxfam has suffered may well start to be reflected in public and corporate discomfort about being seen to support the organisation financially.  The board of trustees will face   some searching questions about their governance arrangements and it will take some time for the organisation to recover.

The lesson for our church is obvious. If we don’t listen with care to what people who work directly with children, young people and vulnerable adults are telling us about the behaviour of others that they have witnessed, and we don’t act with appropriate speed and diligence when we are told, then we can stand accused of not displaying the moral leadership that the government has demanded.  This is not where the church will want to find itself.  Failing to see and deal with what be in plain sight may carry a significant reputational cost.


How’s it all going?

06 February 2018

This week Methodist DSOs are gathered near Stratford upon Avon for their annual conference. This year we are looking at the idea of ‘Partnership, Breadth and Opportunity’ in our work recognising that we can work with other denominations or organisations to advance the safeguarding agenda in the places we serve. It’s a time to catch up with colleagues, share our news and hopefully learn about things we can apply when we get back to our Districts.  It’s also a time to reflect in a safe space about what we do and perhaps how it makes us feel.

The need for structured space to talk about safeguarding is imperative.  People from a social work background will be familiar with the idea of supervision and this is something that the Connexion is planning to formalise for all DSOs from September this year. In so doing this will enable the Church to be confident that a good quality safeguarding service is consistently on offer across the country

But of course it’s at a local church and circuit level where much of the hard work of ensuring good safeguarding practice is taking place.  Some safeguarding officers have good links with ministers or other experienced people in their local areas, but we know that for a good number of others it’s a bit of a lonely existence especially when there is not a lot of obvious local support and guidance. It can become dispiriting but also may mean that we fail to act on something that we, collectively, see or hear about.

Finding a safe time and place for those charged with discharging safeguarding responsibilities to talk about their work should be built into the life of each church and circuit. But it also needs people who get the agenda to act as that sounding board, so as I journey around the District this year I’ll be asking questions about support for safeguarders, and offering ideas about how that can be achieved.  The District conference is an obvious first place to get support, but that’s only once a year. At the same time we don’t need to create new cumbersome structures, so let’s think together when and wherever we meet about what might work out best for all.   


Transforming our worlds

31 January 2018

It was good to see reports this week that Rotherham Children’s Services have been ‘transformed’ according to Ofsted and are now judged as being good. This is a big turnaround from 2014 when the local authority and South Yorkshire Police were roundly condemned for failing to tackle the child sexual exploitation (CSE) problems that the community had experienced over a period of time. Alexis Jay, the chair of the IICSA, investigated what had happened and a team of government officials was sent in to turn Children’s Services around.

The churches in the town, as well as the local mosque, were very keen to offer what they could to promote both healing and social cohesion. They were also anxious to make sure that they could recognise fresh emerging signs of the problem bubbling up again, and the local authority expressed enthusiasm about the faith communities’ offer to be eyes and ears, offering training to support this.  In some very small way, it’s possible that faith communities made a contribution to that transformation as part of the wider prevention partnership.

Sadly however Rotherham is not the only place where CSE has occurred, but that also means that we in London can play our part in achieving transformation for our communities if we are alert to what is going on in, recognise what we see and respond well.  This is why our conference on March 10th is so important as we will be focussing on those new areas of abuse, such as CSE, that feature in our new national policy and training materials.

Our faith is about transforming our own and hopefully other peoples’ lives as well. So if we can play our part, however small, by using our safeguarding knowledge and experience, we can help transform the communities we serve.



When prayer is all too much and becomes abusive

January 22 2018

Dr Lisa Oakley was our London conference keynote speaker last year. She now works at Bournemouth University and continues in her work there to focus on spiritual abuse and its impact. Last week in a survey carried out by the university in partnership with CCPAS (Churches Child protection Advisory Service), it was revealed that 1,591 respondents said they had personally experienced spiritual abuse.

In her presentation Lisa presented us with a number of examples drawn from her own research, which demonstrated the key characteristics of coercion and control, manipulation and pressuring of individuals.

On January 9th the Guardian reported the case of an Anglican vicar who had been found guilty by the C of E of spiritually abusing a teenage boy after putting him under ‘unacceptable pressure’ during intensive prayer and bible study sessions in his bedroom. Clergy disciplinary measures were used to bring the case and the bishops’ disciplinary tribunal described in their judgement how the vicar ‘engaged in mentoring so intense that (the boy, aged 15) was put under unacceptable pressure having regard to his age and maturity and was deprived of his freedom of choice as to whether to continue’

This was the first judgement of its kind, but there is a real sense from Lisa’s research that other examples are already known about or awaiting discovery.

In our own Church there is a lesson here about promoting an ongoing culture of vigilance and developing a good understanding about what is appropriate in our prayer and bible study activities with people of all ages and in all circumstances. We know from the conference feedback that there is an interest in this area of safeguarding practice and so the offer to provide more training and insight is on the table. Please do contact me if this is something you want to know more about.


January 15 2018

Calling to mind our safeguarding responsibilities as charity trustees, and as we approach the new year season of church councils, a timely reminder of these had been provided by colleagues at Farrers’, a London law firm that has a specialist child protection unit.

Although there is good evidence that safeguarding is now included on most church council agendas, we may not always recall that the Charity Commission has high expectations of churches’ compliance with all our various policies and commitment to safe recruitment.  It’s a report published by the Charity Commissioners into a recent case that is referenced in Farrers’ bulletin which can be accessed here:


Charity Commissioners have statutory powers to investigate organisations where there are concerns about poor safeguarding practice,  so making sure that individual church councils have a real sense of their obligations in this area of our work and mission is a an ongoing priority for the District.  This is also a prompt to trustees that taking care of safeguarding is not just a practice matter for the local church safeguarding officer working with the minister, but an organisational requirement to ensure charitable status is maintained. 

The Charity Commissioners’ Safeguarding Strategy is a very accessible document that describes the range of issues that may concern it, and reminds charities such as churches of their reporting obligations. It’s recommended reading for all church trustees and is available here: 




January 01 2018

Amongst the fireworks, news reviews and predictions of new year, some media outlets covered the case of the imprisonment of the former head teacher of St Benedict’s school in Ealing, West London. He had been convicted just before Christmas on charges of rape and other sexual offences against pupils.  He was also the abbot of Ealing Abbey.  In the press there was commentary from a victim about what it had been like to be a pupil at the school and the impact of the abuse he suffered on his life.

The victim stated that he felt that things were now better in schools and other institutions but that the safety nets now in place needed to be really strong to make sure that it never happened to anyone else again.  He also commented on the time it took to bring the head teacher to account.

‘Courage Cost and Hope’ was the title of the report of the Past Cases Review conducted by the Methodist Church between 2013 and 2015. It demonstrated the deep and lasting impact on survivors of church based abuse, and described what needed to be done to protect children and vulnerable adults involved in all aspects of church life.  It has set the tone for our own Church’s refreshed approach to safeguarding and is helping to shape what we do on a day by day basis. If you’ve not yet read the report you can access it here: http://i.emlfiles1.com/cmpdoc/0/9/3/5/1/files/295703_past-cases-review-2013-2015-final.pdf?utm_source=Methodist+Church+&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=5752836_305+NR+PCR+28052015&dm_i=BVI,3FAX0,35DR8W,C96VD,1

This website therefore aims to make sure that those who access the site can be assured that London District’s net is as strong as it can be, built around the three principles of effective policies, good quality training and safe recruitment to posts in the life of the church. Furthermore, when we hear about any case of abuse perpetrated within the church we will aim to act as quickly as we can to address the issues raised. 

Safeguarding Group