Sacred Heart Church North Gosforth

Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection in Sacred Heart Parish

The Diocesan Child Protection Office working with the Church’s National organisation the Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Service (CSAS), has introduced procedures to ensure that as far as is humanly possible children and vulnerable adults in our community are not abused or taken advantage of in any way. Every parish must put these procedures into practice. Here at Sacred Heart we have set up a Child Protection Team to do this. This page is designed to answer some of the questions you may have. There is also a leaflet which summarises the safeguarding guidelines.

Q. Why do we need a child protection team?
Two reasons. First, our world has become more and more aware of the need to protect children and vulnerable adults. All voluntary organisations, as well as statutory ones whose work brings them into contact with children and vulnerable adults are obliged to put into place policies and procedures to ensure their safety. The Catholic Church in England and Wales has decided that this begins at parish level and that all parishes must act.
Second our Catholic Church has suffered a lot from scandal in recent years. We especially must not just act to protect the vulnerable. We must be seen to act as well.

Q. Who is the Team?
The team members are: John Hawthorne, Jo Shepherd and Susan Stoddart.

Q. What does the Child Protection Team do?
It carries out the initial assessment of all adult members of the parish whose roles on behalf of the parish and the Catholic Church bring them into contact with children and vulnerable adults. It works with the Diocesan Child Protection Office to ensure that those whose roles require it receive a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) disclosure.
The Team is also a point of contact in the parish for anyone with questions or concerns about the safety of children or vulnerable adults when they are involved, in any way, in parish/church activities. The Team ensures that the protection of children and vulnerable adults is always considered in future planning and organising of parish activities.

Q. Will people be treated confidentially?
Yes. The Child Protection Team will treat everything in the strictest confidence.

Q. Who does the Team vet?
Everyone in the parish whose parish work brings them into contact with children and vulnerable adults. This includes for instance, those who work with the Children’s Liturgy, First Holy Communion and Confirmation preparation catechists, parent and toddler group organisers, members of POSH etc.

Q. Who is a ‘child’ or a ‘vulnerable adult’?
The Catholic Church in England and Wales defines a ‘child’ as ‘all children and young people up to the age of 18; that is someone who has not yet had their 18th birthday’.
The Catholic Church in England and Wales is fully committed to:
‘Actively promoting the empowerment and well-being of adults through the church; recognising that everyone has the right to live their life free from violence, fear and abuse; and recognising that adults have the right to be protected from harm and exploitation.’.

Q. I have already received full clearance as part of my job or in my work with another voluntary organisation. Do I need to go through the process in the parish as well?

Q. I’m uncomfortable with this and don’t really want to be part of this invasion of privacy.
Many people share your misgivings and are reluctant to be involved. However the protection of children and vulnerable adults is vitally important. If you are in one of the roles affected then you must go through the vetting procedure. If you do not wish to go through the procedure you will not be able to take up that role within the parish.


Parish Safeguarding Team

Jo Shepherd (Parish Safeguarding Representative)
Telephone : 0191 285 8894

John Hawthorne
Telephone : 0191 243 2379
Mobile : 07469 731 784

Susan Stoddart
Telephone : 07939 079 019

Diocesan Contacts

Meril  Anderson, Diocesan Safeguarding Co-ordinator
Telephone : 07472 068014,

Other contact details can be found on the Diocesan website
Safeguarding – Diocese of Hexham & Newcastle (

National contact/information