Support Person Service



Each Diocese and Religious Congregation should appoint Support Persons to be available to those adults who make an allegation or disclosure of abuse. (NBSCCCI Standards and Guidance, 2008)

In some larger dioceses, there will be a need to appoint more than one Support Person.

The Diocese of Down and Connor currently have two Support Persons who provide a specific service for adults who have made allegations or disclosures of abuse.



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 counselling service, called Towards Healing.

The Support Person will also explain and clarify what the service will not provide:

  • The Support Person does not provide counselling (although he/she may be a qualified counsellor). The Support Person may arrange for the adult to receive counselling if they request it, or the adult may arrange this independently.
  • The detail of the allegation will not be discussed, unless the adult freely chooses to talk about this. It is important to know that, if any new or additional information is disclosed about the allegation, the Support Person has a duty to share this with the Designated Officer and will inform the adult that the information will be passed to the Designated Officer in line with policy and procedures.

Any other shared information will be treated in strict confidence.

The role of the Support Person is a professional role which forms part of the overall safeguarding structure and service within the diocese. The Support Person, like other safeguarding personnel in the diocese, must work to a Code of Practice and in line with the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland’s (NBSCCCI) Standards and Guidance Document. (This can be accessed on their website


If you would like further information regarding the role of the Diocesan Support Person, please contact:

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

Sonia Hand – Support Person or Tel: 07867 912 170

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


Towards Healing Freephone (UK): 08000 963 315

PSNI Tel: 101

Social Services (Regional Out of Hours Service) Tel: 028 9504 9999

Social Services (during office hours):

  • Belfast HSC Trust Tel: 028 9050 7000
  • Western HSC Trust Tel: 028 7131 4090
  • Northern HSC Trust Tel: 0300 1234 333
  • South Eastern HSC Trust Tel: 0300 1000 300
  • Southern HSC Trust Tel: 0800 7837 745

National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland (NBSCCCI) Tel: 00 353 1 505 3018