Coronavirus Safeguarding Considerations issued by the General Synod Office

During the current period of uncertainty caused by the Coronavirus concerns, the Scottish Episcopal Church’s Provincial Safeguarding Officers will continue to be available to deal with safeguarding situations as they arise. Contact with the Safeguarding Team should be via e-mail on or, in the event of urgency, by telephone on 07702 793553. If this phone is not answered immediately, leave a voicemail message and one of the Provincial Officers will get back to you.

From Wednesday 18 March the Safeguarding Team will not be in a position to process PVG applications. Correctly completed PVG application forms received by the Safeguarding Team up to 18 March have been processed and submitted to Volunteer Scotland Disclosure Services. Applicants should receive their certificates in due course. Letters have been issued in respect of PVG disclosure certificates received by the Safeguarding Team up to 18 March. Please do not send any PVG applications to the Safeguarding Team until further notice. Please contact Daphne Audsley if you have questions about PVG.

In the past few days, we have been asked for advice on the subject of Church volunteers wishing to provide support and assistance (e.g. shopping) to vulnerable neighbours who are confined to their homes or wish to isolate themselves because of illness or increased risk. Individuals may be offering their services directly to neighbours. However, where churches wish to provide assistance on an organised basis, it is suggested that churches make contact with their local council community care services to ascertain if they might be able to assist with services already set up for this purpose. If this is something that churches wish to do, the work should be carried out by congregational members who are ideally members of the PVG Scheme or at the very least in a position of trust and known to the Church. We would strongly advise against using people who do not fall into this category. When undertaking such services, members should carry some documentation proving identification and the fact that they are authorised by the local church.

The handling of money – for example if shopping is being undertaken for a vulnerable person – is an area of particular risk and careful consideration should be given to how this is handled. For the protection of both the vulnerable person and the volunteer, a safeguarding risk assessment should be conducted and a robust procedure for recording who is undertaking these duties, how the handling of money is organised and how goods purchased or obtained are handed over. It might be possible, for example, for a financial float to be provided by the congregation to the volunteer who does the shopping, with the congregation later recovering payment from the person from whom the shopping is done. Receipts should be copied and retained. Individuals undertaking such duties on behalf of the church should not be providing money to people they do not know and it would be sensible for those to whom such a service is provided to have been referred by a church member. Church members making personal arrangements with friends and neighbours to provide such support would not be considered to be acting on behalf of the Church.

Volunteers undertaking such a service to vulnerable people may well be in a ‘risk’ category themselves and should not place themselves in situations where they are at risk of either contracting the virus or putting others at risk of contracting it. Above all, it is important to take heed of and follow all the advice issued by the Scottish Government, Health Protection Scotland and the Scottish Episcopal Church in respect of appropriate precautions to be taken and for updated advice and guidance to considered and followed as it is issued. Direct physical contact should be avoided at all times.

If in doubt, please e-mail or call the Provincial Safeguarding Officers.


Donald Urquhart, Provincial Safeguarding Officer, or telephone 07702 793553

Daphne Audsley, Assistant Safeguarding Officer,