The Diocesan Safeguarding Office provides an outreach and support service to those affected by abuse.  This is a service for those who have been abused by clergy or others working for or on behalf of the diocese and their families.  The service provided involves:

  • Facilitating people to make complaints about child abuse
  • Accessing counselling and other services for those who need and want such services
  • Informing them of the steps being taken to address their concerns

The Diocese of Down and Connor currently have two Support Persons who provide the above services. Both are professionally qualified (social work and health backgrounds).

Overview of the Support Person Service

When an adult discloses a concern of abuse to the diocese or to the Safeguarding Office, one of the options made available to them will be the opportunity to make contact / meet with a Support Person, if requested.

The Support Person may be contacted by telephone at a time suitable to the adult, or the Support Person may initiate contact with the adult by telephone, if this is the adults’ preference.

When the first contact is agreed and made the Support Person will make time to explain and clarify the following information:

  • That the Support Person is a service provided by the diocese to help the adult look at and consider other services which are available to access at this difficult time in their lives (e.g. GP, counsellor).
  • That the Support Person works closely with the Designated Officer whose role is to manage the allegation.
  • That the Support Person will keep the Designated Officer informed of any significant information
  • Assist the adult in considering their appropriate course of action during this difficult time and keep them informed of the process in relation to the allegation
  • That records of all meetings will be made by the Support Person and will be accessible to the adult. All safeguarding records are stored securely in the Safeguarding Office.
  • A minimum of 6 sessions may be offered to the adult but this service may be requested again at a later stage, if they so wish (free of charge).
  • The Church provides a free confidential counselling service, called Towards Healing (which is Freephone (UK) 08000 963 315).

The role of the Support Person is to offer comfort and compassion on behalf of the Church, to provide direction to the individual where to go for professional help or assistance and to help arrange appropriate support.

The Support Person assists the individual by facilitating access to information, representing his/her concerns on an ongoing basis and identifying any therapeutic needs.

Where professional counselling is needed, this is not provided by the Support Person directly but is provided through normal professional channels. The role of the Support Person may extend to offer support to other family members of the individual, if this is required

Contacting the Diocesan Support Person Service:

If you would like further details or information about the Support Person Service please contact:

Mrs Barbara McDermott – The Director for Safeguarding or Tel: 07713 642 855

Sonia Hand – Support Person or Tel: 07867 912 170

Imelda Henry – Support Person or Tel: 07825 021 494

Andy Thomson – Designated Officer for Safeguarding  or Tel: 07703 395 365

These, and some additional contact details, may be accessed on the back sheet of our information leaflet –The Role of the Diocesan Support Person which is available in each parish, or by clicking on this link