Safeguarding

The Cathedral bellringers have put in place a safeguarding policy to protect all ringers, both local and visitors, whilst partaking in bellringing activities at the Cathedral. The full policy is below for you to read.

This policy was last reviewed in May 2021 and audited as part of the independent auditing of Cathedral safeguarding arrangements in the Church of England, Portsmouth Cathedral, by the Social Care Institute for Excellent (SCIE) in June 2021.

The audit noted “Auditors judged that safeguarding practice in the bell tower has been well thought out and is robust.”

Safeguarding Policy v1.2 (published January 2022)

Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to outline the procedures that are in place to provide safeguarding arrangements for the local bellringers, visiting bellringers and other users of the Cathedral.

What is Safeguarding?

Safeguarding is the action that is taken to promote the welfare of people and protect them from harm. Key to this is creating a safe and welcoming environment, where everyone is respected and valued. This policy aims to make sure bellringing at the Cathedral is run in a way that actively prevents harm, harassment, bullying, abuse and neglect. It is also about being ready to respond safely and well if there is a problem.

Everyone has a role to play in safeguarding and it should be a seamless part of the day to day activities of bellringers and the Cathedral.

Safeguarding means:

  • Protecting people from abuse and maltreatment (both mental and physical)
  • Preventing harm to health or development
  • When considering children, ensuring they grow up with the provision of safe and effective care
  • Taking action to enable all people to have the best outcomes and to feel safe and secure

Who is responsible?

Everyone is responsible and has an obligation to make sure their fellow bellringers are safe from harm. This policy outlines how all members of the band and visitors can be involved.

The officers of the tower will take responsibility for making sure this policy is regularly reviewed, relevant actions are implemented and measured and that progress reporting is made available and communicated to the relevant officers of the Cathedral office.

The officers of the Cathedral will seek to hold the officers of the tower to account in a productive manner, to ensure they are happy that adequate safeguarding procedures are in place for bellringing activities at the Cathedral.

Membership & Attendance

A register of members of the Cathedral Society of Bellringers will be held by the secretary. This will include contact details and any known medical conditions. This will be shared with the Cathedral so that they can meet their safeguarding obligations and updates to this database will be communicated as and when they are made.

A register of attendance will be kept of all ringing sessions, including visiting individuals or bands. Contact details will be held for all visiting ringers or visiting bands in case the ringer needs to be contacted. These details will be securely held and only accessible by the relevant officers if required.

Declarations

All ringers will be required to complete a declaration form (see appendix 1) stating that they understand and agree to the safeguarding terms whilst using the bellringing facilities of the Cathedral. All visitors will be required to complete one of these in advance of ringing activities taking place.

Declaration forms will be required to be completed by members of the local band and annually re-confirmed to keep them up to date.

Visiting individuals will be required to complete and sign the form in advance and ringers turning up without prior warning will be required to fill one out before starting ringing.

Visiting bands or ringers, either for outings or quarter peal / peal bands will be required to have each member of their band complete and return one of the forms prior to attending the Cathedral for their arranged activities.

Children (under the age of 18 years) will be required to have a declaration completed by a parent / guarding / carer.

Visitors who have previously attended the Cathedral will be able to attend with their previous declaration being valid and all declarations will be considered relevant for up to 12 months.

Data Protection

All data obtained from ringers will be held securely by the secretary and will not be given to any other third-parties, except for the Cathedral office. Data will only be held whilst it remains relevant and an annual review and purge of data will be undertaken to make sure no data that is no longer needed will continue to be held.

The person holding the role of secretary will be required to undertake the Cathedral’s mandated data protection training course.

Teaching and ringing with under 18s

Children will not be taught to ring until they are of secondary school age.

In any situation where younger ringers (below the age of 18 years) are ringing or learning to ring then a minimum of two adults, from different households, will always be present.

Ideally a parent or carer of the child will remain present during ringing sessions, but if this is not possible then a consent form will be required to be filled out consenting for the child to be taught by ringers of the Cathedral band and understanding that there may be certain situations where contact may occur to ensure the safety of the child (see appendix 2).

DBS Checks

All the officers of the Portsmouth Cathedral Society of Bellringers will be DBS checked by the Cathedral office.

Training

Online training in safeguarding will be undertaken by all officers of the Portsmouth Cathedral Society of Bellringers.

It will be encouraged, but not mandatory, for all members of the band to also undertake the online training.

There should not be a ringing session taking place where none of the attendees have undertaken and completed the online training (unless they are a visiting band) and a record of who has completed the training will be kept.

Dealing with accusations

In a situation where a safeguarding concern needs to be raised, the process will be to first raise this as a concern with one of the officers of the tower. The officers should not investigate the issue themselves but should refer the matter to the Cathedral safeguarding officer so that an independent investigation can take place. The ringers should not investigate themselves.

Until the safeguarding officer can undertake a full investigation of the issue, the relevant party(ies) will both be asked not to attend ringing sessions.

An initial statement from each party can be taken, with a witness present, which can be written and agreed by the concerned party(ies) and witnessed as a true representation of their statement. This will not constitute an investigation but may provide initial information to be passed to the Cathedral for an investigation to take place.

Emergency Procedures

Clear signage directing people to the emergency exits from the tower in the event of an emergency should be present within the tower. Guidance on what the evacuation procedures for the tower are should be communicated regularly to the local band and to visitors to ensure they are aware of what to do in an emergency.

Contact With The Cathedral

The bellringers stay in regular contact with the Cathedral authorities via regular communication between the Ringing Master, Secretary and the Cathedral officers, primarily the Chief Executive Officer. The Ringing Master is the primary contact between the ringers and the Cathedral for general matters and the Secretary will deal with bookings for bellringing and arranging the calendar of ringing events. It is common for there to be contact multi times per month.

The Society has always enjoyed a good relationship with the Cathedral office and the Dean attends and Chairs the Annual General Meeting of the Society and then confirms the subsequent minutes at a later date.

Social Media

All bellringers, both local and visiting, understand that any photography or video taken during ringing sessions should not be posted on social media or other platforms without the permission to those in attendance. If a child is present then the permission needs to be sought from the parent / guardian / carer before anything is uploaded.

Appendix 1 – Safeguarding Working Procedure – Bellringing at Portsmouth Cathedral

Visiting bellringers will be welcomed to ring for services or practice at Portsmouth Cathedral.

Part A – Attending Portsmouth Cathedral Tower for Bellringing

  1. Only the people named in advance as a visiting bellringer will be allowed to partake of bellringing. (You must read, complete and return Part B below)
  2. It is expected that all visiting bellringers will be at least 18 years of age on the date of the visit. If any visiting bellringer will be a minor, i.e. aged 17 or below, on the date of the visit, the Tower Captain (or other officer in the absence of the Tower Captain) must have been informed before ringing commences and additional information and procedures will be discussed with the parent/carer of the young person. A parent or adult carer of the minor will accompany them at all times.
  3. All visiting ringers must wear sensible footwear (no high heels or other footwear that may incumber a stable balance whilst ringing).
  4. Members and participants are responsible for the security and insurance of their personal property, the Cathedral accepts no liability for any loss or damage howsoever caused to any such property.
  5. No electrical equipment other than mobile phones may be brought into the Tower.
  6. No smoking is permitted anywhere in the Cathedral or Tower.
  7. No person under the influence of alcohol or drugs is permitted in the Tower. No alcohol may be brought into, or consumed in the Tower.
  8. If the fire alarm sounds and the Cathedral needs to be evacuated, all visiting bellringers must follow the instructions of the Tower Captain or other officers of the tower accompanying them.

Procedure for visiting the Cathedral

  1. On arrival, visitors should report to the north door (unless instructed otherwise) where you will be met by the Tower Captain or designated volunteer.
  2. You will be accompanied up to the tower where the secretary will require you to review and sign the declaration and record any relevant details on the register.
  3. The sole purpose of the visiting bellringer accessing the Tower and Ringing Chamber is to ring the bells. Accessing any other area in the Tower is prohibited unless by express permission from the tower captain or other tower officer and if granted permission you will remain accompanied by the Tower Captain or designated volunteer at all times.
  4. No photography or video recording of any sort should take place in the ringing chamber unless agreed by the Tower Captain (who will check and gain express permission of every person concerned before photo or recording is permitted). 12.
  5. All publicity and any media enquiries about this bell ringing visit will be handled by the Cathedral Office. All media enquiries must be referred to the Cathedral Office during office hours.

Part B – Declaration Form – must be completed and handed to the Tower Captain or Secretary

  1. I am aware that this activity includes physical, manual handling and access is via a spiral staircase but in the event of an emergency there may be a need to exit the tower by another method which may include enclosed spaces, ladders and heights.
  2. I am aware that the above means that certain medical conditions may mean that I am at higher risk than normal. These conditions include (but are not limited to) heart conditions, asthma, vertigo, claustrophobia and I am aware that it is my responsibility to disclose any such condition to the officers of the tower.
  3. I have no pre-existing health issues that would stop me being physically able to climb up and down the steps to the Ringing Chamber and (in the case of emergency exit being needed) I confirm that I am able to climb further steps and walk along an outside walkway without problem and without impeding the pace of others using those emergency exit routes.
  4. I have no ‘Sexual Harm Prevention Order’, ‘Sexual Risk Order’ or ‘Safeguarding Agreement’ in place with any parish, diocese or tower and I have not currently/previously been subject to a safeguarding allegation/investigation. (If this is not the case please contact the Cathedral Safeguarding Adviser detailed below).
  5. I agree to comply with the Cathedral security arrangements at all times and understand that these may be subject to change at short notice.
  6. I have provided my name, contact details and any relevant medical information to the Tower Captain and/or Secretary. These details will be held confidentially for up to a year to ensure the health and safety of all visiting bellringers to the cathedral.
  7. I have informed the Tower Captain of the name(s) and age(s) of my children and confirm that my children are at least 11 years of age.
  8. I have supplied my details or the contact details of the adult accompanying the child.
  9. I/nominated adult will sign the tower register in the ringing chamber beside the name(s) of my child/children in the register.

I understand and agree to abide by all of the rules and procedures as set out above, and I confirm that the statements above are accurate. I understand that my data will be held by the Portsmouth Cathedral Society of Ringers and Portsmouth Cathedral for up to 12 months and that this declaration will be considered relevant and current for up to 12 months from the point of signing it.

 

Appendix 2 – Consent form for a child bellringer

Children who are already of secondary school age are welcome to learn to ring or attend bellringing sessions at Portsmouth Cathedral. We encourage a parent / guardian / carer to attend these sessions with the child but we acknowledge that this is not always possible.

Below are outlined the guidelines that will be adhered to when a child attends a ringing session at Portsmouth Cathedral without a parent / guardian / carer present.

Arrangements for a child attending a ringing session

  1. Any child attending and partaking in a bellringing session will be of secondary school age.
  2. Sessions will always be attended by two adults who are not related and do not live in the same household.
  3. A parent / guardian / carer will have completed a declaration form on behalf of the child prior to any session beginning.
  4. A parent / guardian / carer will bring the child to the Cathedral entrance and meet one of the officers (or other assigned and pre-arranged individual from the local band) who will then accompany the child to the ringing chamber along with another member of the band (as per point 2).
  5. A parent / guardian / carer will collect the child from the Cathedral entrance at a pre-arranged time and will be met by the designated officer (or other assigned and pre-arranged individual from the local band).
  6. Attendance of the child will be noted on the register, along with who dropped off the child at the beginning of the session and who collected the child at the end of the session.
  7. At no point will the child be left unattended or in the company of a single adult during the duration of the ringing activities.

Considerations

Bellringing has the potential to be a dangerous activity if it is not undertaken correctly and by fully trained and responsible individuals. Due to the risks involved with the activity there may be circumstances where contact may need to take place between an adult and a child in order to maintain their safety. A list of potential circumstances where this might take place, which is not exhaustive but demonstrative, is listed below.

  1. During teaching a child to ring it maybe necessary for a hand to be placed on the childs arm or hand in order to guide them to pull the rope at the correct time and in the correct way.
  2. During ringing sessions if something goes wrong then it maybe necessary to pull a child out of the way of danger, by placing hands on the arms, shoulders, or upper body of the child.

Additionally, the following risks exist within the ringing room during a ringing session:

  1. Bells are rung using ropes and if this is not done correctly the rope could end up lose and flapping around which may cause injury.
  2. Standing on the rope whilst the bells are ringing could cause an individual to be pulled off their feet and could also result in the ringer being lifted off the floor, presenting risk of hitting their head or other parts of the body.
  3. Bell ringing involves moving heavy bells around via a rope. This can present a risk to over exertion and in turn pulled muscles or other strains. This is particularly relevant to growing children who are still developing.

The above risks are dealt with by making sure all ringers are thoroughly trained and that training of new ringers is a process that does not expose the learner to situations that they are not yet physically or mentally ready to handle. This can take many months or even years to achieve and the officers of the tower, or designated experienced ringers, will be responsible for agreeing when a learner is able to undertake certain activities safely.

If you are concerned about a safeguarding issue that may have occurred then you should report this immediately to one of the officers of the Portsmouth Cathedral Society of Bellringers, or alternatively to the Cathedral office if it concerns one of the officers.

I understand and agree to the terms and conditions listed in this policy and grant permission for my child to attend Portsmouth Cathedral to ring the bells. I understand the risks involved, as listed, and accept these and the outlined actions that may result if one of these risks occurs.

Appendix 3 – Job Roles & Responsibilities

This section details the key roles and responsibilities of each of the officer roles of the Portsmouth Cathedral Society of Bellringers.

Ringing Master / Tower Captain

The Tower Captain, also known as the Ringing Master, has overall responsibility for the running of the tower and all bellringing activities within the tower at the Cathedral.

They are primarily responsible for day to day liaising with the Dean / Chapter / CEO of the Cathedral and dealing with any matters arising between the Cathedral and the operations of the tower.

Key responsibilities include:

  • Running ringing or deputising it to either the Deputy or other experienced ringer
  • Prime responsibility for Safeguarding and ensuring this is implemented and monitored in line with the policy(ies)
  • Coordinating with bellringers from the local band for ringing activities
  • Identifying development and progression opportunities for members of the local band and making sure that these are implemented into the regular ringing schedule
  • Overseeing the training of new bellringers

Deputy Ringing Master

The Deputy Ringing Master is person who deputises for the Tower Captain in all matters relating to ringing activities, if the Tower Captain is not available.

Secretary

The secretary is responsible for managing the ringing calendar of activities and all correspondence received relating to the bellringers. Working closely with the tower captain to make sure there is adequate attendance for ringing activities.

Key responsibilities include:

  • Liaising with the Cathedral office in relation to requests for visiting ringers
  • Liaising with the Cathedral office to set the calendar of peals and quarter peals
  • Working with the Cathedral office and bellringers to coordinate wedding ringing and making sure there are ringers assigned to provide cover for wedding ringing
  • Maintaining the register of attendance and list of bellringers in a secure database
  • Maintaining the Safeguarding policy and undertaking monitoring and reporting with the Tower Captain on safeguarding activities
  • Ensuring declarations are received by visiting ringers and storing these securely as part of the records

Steeple Keeper

The Steeple Keeper has primary responsibility for the maintenance of the bells, the infrastructure supporting the bells and the ringing room and intermediate chamber.

They will be responsible for liaising with the Cathedral office to discuss maintenance requirements and work closely with the other officers to advise of maintenance considerations for the future.

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