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IICSA & Safeguarding in Communities

Yesterday – 20th October 2022, almost 8 years since the inquiry was announced, IICSA – The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse – published its final report.  MRJ had submitted evidence as core participants in the strand investigating safeguarding in faith-based organisations.
Sadly, the release of the report was overshadowed by other news stories of the day, but we should not lose sight of the importance of placing safeguarding at the centre of our communities.  The experiences bravely shared to the inquiry remind us that abuse can and does take place throughout society, and we cannot be complacent in both our preventative work and in our responses to allegations and to concerns.  Mandatory reporting of child abuse is a key recommendation and accords with the expectation we already have in MRJ that our Rabbis and Cantors, staff, lay leaders and youth leaders would always report any safeguarding concerns through the statutory authorities.
Prevention of abuse is of course vital.  At the time of our own recent Safeguarding Review, MRJ established that the values of Trust, Collaboration, Respect and Honesty lie at the centre of our work, and these continue to be our guiding principles.  At our AGM in June, we agreed that all communities would self-audit their safeguarding practices annually, to agreed standards, based on national guidance.  The audit tool was devised by lay leaders from synagogues who also have professional experience in this sphere.  This will allow each community, and MRJ, to understand where we are and how we can continually strive to improve.  MRJ has committed to support synagogues in this development, through our Safeguarding Networking Group, bringing together expertise and best practice from communities, to enable us all to learn together and raise our understanding and standards of safeguarding. 
We encourage all community Designated Safeguarding Leads and Safeguarding Lead Trustees to join the group, and other lay leaders are welcome too.  If you would like to join, or have any other safeguarding questions or concerns you would like to discuss in confidence, please contact Sharon Daniels, our Head of Safeguarding and Wellbeing.

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