Lone Working Policy
The Parish Church of St Mary, Potton
The Rector and PCC recognise that during the course of their work, church officers, including clergy and volunteers may find themselves working alone.
This may be in church premises, visiting individuals in their homes, or receiving people in their own home.
This may occur regularly or occasionally but will be a necessary part of the role.
Where the work involves home visits, the safety of both the visitor and the person being visited is paramount.
The work of clergy may carry additional risks. It is important that these are fully understood and that a risk assessment and adequate arrangements are made to ensure they are as safe as possible.
Potential hazards of lone working
There are a number of areas where risks may be greater when working alone:
Accidents or sudden illness when there is no-one to summon help or first aid.
Violence or the threat of violence.
Allegations of inappropriate and/or abusive behaviour.
Fire or other threat.
Attempting tasks which cannot safely be done by one person alone, e.g. heavy lifting, or use of certain equipment.
Lack of a safe way in or out of a building (e.g. danger of being accidentally locked in).
Travelling, particularly in bad weather.
Assessing the risks of lone working
The perception of what is a risk, and the actual risk itself, may be seen differently by individuals.
For example, an inexperienced worker may underestimate the risks of an activity; some church officers, especially those in urban parishes may feel particularly vulnerable to violence after dark; or a medical condition may make it unsafe for an individual to work alone.
Clergy, through the PCC, should consider these factors and assess the particular risks in their parish environment. Appropriate steps, using a risk management tool, should be taken to reduce the risk, particularly where the environment around the vicarage or church or area of the visit is lonely, poorly lit and / or in an area where criminal activity is more likely.
Measures to minimise the risks of lone working
There are a number of things which can be done to minimise risks when working alone.
Reducing the risks is the best form of protection.
Consider the following:
Know as much as possible about any potentially risky situation.
Avoid, as far as possible, situations with significant risk of vulnerability.
Consider beforehand a strategy for a swift exit if a situation changes.
Consider who else might be available to be working in church (also applies at one’s home) if a one to one meeting is requested.
Be familiar with strategies for dealing with difficult situations.
Be aware of effective communication skills.
Ensure you have a mobile phone with you.
Let someone else know where you are going and when you will be back.
Explore a simple system for reporting safe return e.g. short text or phone call.
Ensure that someone else has a record of car and mobile phone details.
Park safely and as close to the destination as possible.
Guidelines for the Professional Conduct of the Clergy
The guidelines on Lone Working and Personal Safety should be read in conjunction with the good practice advice given in the Guidelines for the Professional Conduct of the Clergy, which are on the Church of England website.
Each Office Holder should have a copy provided to them but a copy is available in Appendix 2 for reference. They comment: “At the heart of ministry is risk. Faced by a pastoral situation the minister has to take immediate decisions about what to say and do”.
Clergy will often find themselves in the powerful position of meeting people at the limits of their vulnerability. The Guidelines for the Professional Conduct of the Clergy seek to help you to safeguard and reassure such people, so engendering trust, without which ministry cannot take place. They set out how to maintain appropriate boundaries, which in themselves are helpful in preventing misunderstandings and reducing risks.
Please report to the Rector [or Church Warden, [if in vacancy] any incidents that happen to you as soon as possible so that you can be supported. This allows for lessons to be learned and practice to be improved.
If you have any other concerns, please talk to the Rural Dean.
Further details on personal safety can be obtained from: Suzy Lamplugh Trust http://www.suzylamplugh.org - National Churchwatch http://www.nationalchurchestrust.org/clergy-home-security or http://www.nationalchurchestrust.org - Home Office https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/home-office - Local police force websites
Notwithstanding the above websites, the Parish Safeguarding Policy will be followed if there is a safeguarding, rather than a health and safety, issue.
There is inherent risk in everything we do, whether personally or on behalf of the Church, and although the points above should always be considered, it is impractical to cover every scenario.
IF IN DOUBT, DO NOT UNDERTAKE ANY LONE WORKING ACTIVITY.
This Policy (V1) was approved by the PCC at their meeting on 23rd June 2021