Church Leaders Pledge Support To Government Review Following Tragic Deaths Of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes And Star Hobson
Christian leaders have signed an open letter to pledge their support, cooperation, and expertise as the government launches its independent review into the death of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes.
The open letter, signed by 21 senior leaders from Christian denominations, safeguarding agencies, and faith-based charities, expresses the “shockwaves of grief, pain and anger” felt at the murder of Arthur and says that the “nation reels again” at the recent news of the death of Star Hobson.
To ensure that “no child should have to face the suffering Arthur, Star and others experienced” the leaders have offered their “full cooperation and assistance” to the review which will be led by the National Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel under its Chair, Annie Hudson.
The National Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel conducts reviews into cases which it considers to be complex or of national importance and is tasked with identifying the lessons that should be learned for the benefit of other children in England.
The signatories to the letter highlight that the church has a “unique reach into communities” and “plays a vital role in the lives of children” and that they believe it is “…our Christian duty to help ensure that children, particularly those who are or may be vulnerable, are heard, defended and protected from harm.”
Dr. Krish Kandiah, Christian social entrepreneur, and Justin Humphreys, CEO of independent Christian safeguarding charity Thirtyone: eight, who coordinated the letter, said they were “encouraged by the strength of unity and support behind the letter”.
Dr. Kandiah said “As the panel begins its review, we felt it was important to signal to the government that a society-wide response is needed to ensure that no child faces the unthinkable harm suffered by Arthur and Star. We wanted the government to know that we as the Church are already heavily involved in the lives of vulnerable children across the country and have both a unique insight to offer the review and moral responsibility to step up to the task of ensuring every child is kept safe from harm.”
Justin Humphreys, said “There are fewer tragedies that occur in society that are more painful to contemplate than the death of a child. When a child’s life is ended by the selfish and cruel acts of another person, we ought to be troubled to the core. The Church in the UK can and must take every opportunity to play a part in preventing the abuse of any child it has contact with. Standing together and reaching out into our communities to help create safer places we can make a difference – maybe just for one child or maybe for many. This is what we are called to do.”
The letter acknowledges that the Church has not always got these things right and has on occasions “…failed to protect children with devastating consequences”. The letter explains however that because of this “We are therefore both obligated and motivated to do better, and offer to share our own experience, expertise, and insights with honesty and humility.”
The letter says that the church can be mobilised to be a “force for good in the world” as has been demonstrated in the church response to the pandemic and in the welcome offered by the church to new arrivals from Hong Kong and Afghanistan and suggests that a “similar whole community response” is now needed to improve safeguarding for our nation’s children.
Dr. Kandiah explained “I have seen first-hand the outstanding way in which local churches have risen to the challenge of welcoming thousands of people from Hong Kong via the government’s British Nationals (Overseas) scheme and refugees from Afghanistan following the humanitarian crisis there. I believe the church is ready to offer the same kind creativity and community spirit in finding fresh ways forward to protect and safeguard vulnerable children in our nation”
The full text of the letter can be found at thirtyoneeight.org/openletter along with a list of the signatories listed below. People are being encouraged to add their names to the letter which they can do by following the link.
Signatories (in alphabetical order):
Alina Taylor – Administration Manager and Safeguarding Lead, The Wesleyan Reform Union
Aline Flynn – Safeguarding Lead, Old Baptist Union
Anthony Griffiths – Director of Safeguarding, Church in Wales
Cat Ross – CEO, Baby Basics UK
Chris Cartwright – General Superintendent, Elim Pentecostal Church
Chris Curtis – CEO, Youthscape
Elaine Davidson – Safeguarding Advisor, Pioneer Churches Network
Dr. Eli Gardner – Co-Founder and Executive Director, Kids Matter
Janet Daby MP – Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Safeguarding in Faith Communities
Joy Raynor – National Safeguarding Lead, The Moravian Church in Great Britain and Ireland
Justin Humphreys – CEO, thirtyone:eight
Kat Osborn – CEO, Safe Families
Dr. Krish Kandiah – Director, Greater Good Global
Mandy Hughes MBE – Safeguarding Officer, Third Order Society of St Francis European Province
The Right Reverend Paul Mason – Lead Bishop for Safeguarding, Roman Catholic Church
Sharon Barr – Safeguarding Advisor, The United Reformed Church
Tania Bright – CEO, Home for Good
Tim Carter – Director of Safeguarding, The Methodist Church in Britain
Tim Morfin – Chief Executive, Transforming Lives for Good (TLG)
Yvonne Campbell – General Secretary, The Congregational Federation
Zena Marshall – Interim Director of Safeguarding, Church of England
Written By: Peter Wright