The Safeguarding Board for Northern Ireland (SBNI) created the ‘Interfaith’ Sub-Group in May 2015.
SBNI created the group to highlight the importance that faith has in safeguarding children and young people across N.I.
- To develop partnership working within Faith Groups, SBNI and others concerned in safeguarding children in Northern Ireland.
- To develop and share good practice arrangement and safeguarding resources suitable for use within this sector and encourage use across any Faith Group
- To review the wider SBNI policies and procedures for their applicability across the Faith Group sector and to seek to ensure the dissemination and encourage adoption of the same.
- To identify local issues and develop safeguarding initiatives within Faith Groups and share across the wider SBNI membership
- To support the promotion within Faith Groups of appropriate safeguarding messages at an operational level.
The main tasks of the group are to provide a formal arrangement for the faith community to meet and share;
- safeguarding policies and procedures.
- training materials.
- local community initiatives.
It enhances communication and co-operation about safeguarding across faith groups in partnership with agency members of SBNI. Working together helps to standardise practice.
For example, churches have been challenged by the arrival of social media to develop regional best practice arrangements for the whole faith community.
As a subgroup of SBNI there are many advantages for the faith community to work together. The group can avail of the learning and resources from the work and achievements of other subgroups of SBNI.
To enhance the safeguarding work, already well-established within the faith sector in Northern Ireland, membership of the interfaith group comprises staff with a safeguarding role currently working within the four main churches.
- Mr Lindsay Conway (Presbyterian Church),
- Dr Peter Hamill (Church of Ireland),
- Mr Nicky Blair (Methodist Church)
- Mrs Barbara McDermott (Catholic Church and interim Chair for the group).
To assist there are two more members who provide advice,
- Mr Colin Reid, the Policy and Public Affairs Manager for the NSPCC
- the PSNI’s Detective Chief Superintendent George Clarke who is the co-chair.