Lone Working Policy
The Diocese of St Albans and St Andrews & St George Stevenage recognises that during the course of their work, church officers, including clergy and volunteers may find themselves working alone. This may be in church premises, visiting individuals in their homes or receiving people in their own home. This may occur regularly or occasionally but will be necessary part of the role. Where the work involves home visits, the safety of both the visitor and the person being visited is paramount.
The work of clergy may carry additional risks. It is important that these are fully understood and that a risk assessment and adequate arrangements are made to ensure they are as safe as possible.
Working alone in church
1. Lone workers should ensure they know where all exits are situated.
2. Lone workers must ensure that someone knows where they are, what you are doing and for how long you expect to be there. This person would be most likely be a family member but if this were not the case it could be a friend or one of the people listed below.
Rev’d Karen Mitchell
On leaving the premises, the person you have informed must be made aware.
3. Lone workers must ensure they have a charged mobile phone with them at all times.
4. Lone workers planning to work for an extended period should arrange to make calls at regular intervals.
5. Whilst working alone in the building all external doors must be kept locked for security and safety reasons.
6. Ladders (other than a short step ladder) should not be used whilst working alone.
7. Tasks that can not be safely carried out by one person. eg: Heavy lifting or use of certain equipment should not be attempted.
8. Ensure that you know where to find the first aid kit.
9. Exiting and locking up the church after an event should always be done by two people
Visiting adults alone in their homes
Visiting adults, who may be vulnerable, in their homes, is an essential element of many church officers’ roles. The Church of England defines a church officer as “anyone appointed by or on behalf of the Church to a post or role, whether they are ordained or lay, paid or unpaid.” Many parishioners will be well known to the church officer and where there have been no previous concerns the level of risk to the church officer or parishioner during visits will usually be low. However, unexpected circumstances can be encountered, some of which may place a church officer at risk. For example, the unexpected presence in the home of a relative or friend with a history of violence or threatening behaviour. Unfortunately, case histories also show that a parishioner may be at risk from a church officer. For these reasons it is very important to ensure that church officers and parishioners are as safe as they can be, and that there is accountability and transparency in the manner in which church officers engage in lone working or visits to residential homes.
10. A risk assessment should always be undertaken for a first visit, whether the person to be visited is known or not (see appendix).
11. If there are any concerns or risks known, a risk assessment should be undertaken prior to each visit, using the questions below. In these circumstances, careful consideration should be given as to whether the visit is absolutely necessary, or whether it would be better to be accompanied by another adult.
12. Risk assessments should be undertaken periodically in relation to all parishioners visited at home.
13. A written record should be kept of all risk assessments undertaken. To assure the person being visited of their safety, and for the safety of the church officer, and irrespective of whether a risk assessment has been made:
14. A charged mobile phone should always be carried on a home visit.
15. The church officer should tell someone where they are going and when they are expected to return. Ensure that someone has a record of car and mobile phone details.
16. Wherever possible, the church officer should avoid calling unannounced but by arrangement (this may be a telephone call just before going).
17. If the church officer is not known to the person they are visiting, they should carry identification, photographic, if possible, or a note of introduction from the church.
18. The church officer should always knock on the door before entering a room or home, respecting the person’s home and possessions.
19. If appropriate and necessary, the church officer might leave information about how and where they can be contacted (by telephone or email) and a central contact point for the church (Rev’d Karen’s details). Unless absolutely necessary they should not give their home address.
20. The church officer should always endeavour to be clear about what behaviour from a vulnerable adult is acceptable and what is not, as well as about the purpose and limitations of any pastoral care / support that they are able to offer.
21. The church officer must never offer ‘over-the counter’ remedies to people on visits or administer prescribed medicines, even if asked to do so.
22. The church officer should not accept any gifts from adults other than token items, to avoid misunderstandings or subsequent accusations. If someone wants to make a donation to the church, it should be put in an enveloped, marked on the outside as a donation, and a receipt obtained from the church.
23. Where the church officer considers it necessary to refer the person to another agency, they should talk this through with the vulnerable adult, seeking his/her permission before passing on personal information. If it is more appropriate for the vulnerable adult to do so themselves, make sure they have all the information they need and that their contact will be expected. If the church officer is concerned about a person and they do not wish to be referred, they should consult with the Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser.
24. If the church officer is uncertain about what to do, they should seek advice from the Incumbent, Parish Safeguarding Officer and/or Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser.
25. Please report to the Rector any incident that has happened to you as soon as possible so that you can be supported.
Approved by the PCC 17th July 2023