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BART Pastoral Care Policy

BART Community Support
COVID-19 response
Safeguarding and Pastoral Care policy

The BART Community Support team is a group response, arranged swiftly and in an ad-hoc  manner, to respond to the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, it seeks to support those who are:

  • anyone unwell with symptoms, however mild – an “assumed coronavirus infection”;
  • anyone unwell with symptoms, however mild – a “confirmed coronavirus infection”;
  • anyone living in the same house who must therefore also be isolated; those who are over 70 years of age in self-isolation as a precaution;
  • those who have an underlying health condition or a compromised immune system (of any age) who are in self-isolation as a precaution;
  • anyone who cannot get out of the house for any reason and, therefore, needs assistance (e.g. someone who is disabled, or a single parent caring for children who have been sent home from school).

Because the community support team has been hastily established from a number of different partners, we are grateful to the PCCs of the BART churches who have agreed to allow this work to take place under their umbrella and legal protections since they are a charitable agency already working in the area of pastoral care locally with suitable GDPR consents, safeguarding practices and pastoral care training already in place.

Pastoral Care Policy

So what can we do and what can’t we do?

  • We can collect grocery shopping or medical prescriptions and deliver them to the front door of a person’s home.
  • We can use the phone, email, text or social media to befriend an isolated person and to offer friendship, help, encouragement and support whilst they are in isolation. The goal is to make sure people don’t feel isolated even when in isolation.
  • We can provide encouragement at significant moments. If the Government’s restrictions stay in place for a long time, e.g. sending a Birthday Card.
  • We cannot handle another person’s money, whether cash, cheque or card (groceries would need to be paid for in advance or over the phone).
  • We cannot enter a person’s home.
  • To prevent unhelpful dependencies or over-worked volunteers, we will work ‘zonally’ with multiple volunteers working with multiple people in need.

General advice to those volunteering

  • Please carry an ID badge to reassure those you’re helping (and in case you’re stopped by the Authorities and asked why you are out of your home).
  • Please carry any receipts back to the person you’re helping (also useful if you’re stopped by the Authorities and asked why you are out of your home).
  • When collecting and delivering, some are already making use of a ‘password’ known to the shop, the volunteer and the person being helped. It may help to ensure the safety of the process and reassurance for all involved.
  • Please wash your hands before and after each visit to deliver supplies.
  • If you have the wherewithal, use disposable gloves. Unfortunately, we don’t have supplies centrally to give you.
  • Make sure you adhere to social distancing by leaving goods on the doorstep, ringing the bell and taking a step back. Don’t hand anything to anyone.
  • Do not touch your face again before you have washed your hands.
  • If making deliveries, cars are to be properly parked and engines turned off.
  • Volunteers need to be aware of the danger of becoming overloaded by demands and of neglecting their own need for rest and leisure and their own families.
  • Listening well is fundamental to all good service of this nature.
  • Self-awareness is an essential requirement for anyone seeking to help others. Volunteers may find there is a risk of needing others to need them and thereby encouraging inappropriate dependencies which they need to guard against.
  • Sometimes those who volunteer find it harder to seek or receive help than to give it and have to learn to seek support for themselves when they need it; especially if they subsequently become unwell themselves and need to stop helping.


Because of the speed and nature of the work required, the team does not feel it is possible to establish a series of DBS checks for volunteers. However, because no safeguarding checks are being carried out, the scale of our response must be necessarily limited.

While we recognise some volunteers may have DBS checks already in place with other organisations and may have been safeguarding trained (and that is very helpful), it is not sufficient to be able to serve in an unsupervised capacity in the name of the BART Churches unless the volunteer has been DBS checked by the Diocese of Rochester specifically and undertaken the C0-C3 safeguarding training at appropriate levels to their task.

In order to provide a level of safeguarding for the Network, we are working with a version of ‘Safer Recruitment’ by asking the organising team to vouch for neighbours known to them. For example, Rev’d Shuker is able to vouch for members of BART congregations, PCs are able to vouch for people known to them and so on.


There is a difference between an expectation of confidentiality and keeping secrets. Particularly with befriending, it is possible that a Volunteer may become a confidante. Whatever a Volunteer is told by a person to whom they are offering help, that person must be treated with respect and what is said must be kept confidential. Volunteers must assume that all personal information given by a person about themselves or others is confidential. However, at no time should the Volunteer promise to keep anything an absolute secret. If there is a risk of harm, either to the person concerned or to others, Volunteers must consider it their duty to break a confidence. However, in all but the most exceptional circumstances, good practice requires informing and, wherever possible, obtaining permission, before divulging confidential information.

Since this work is being enabled by the BART Churches, any volunteer who is unsure should seek guidance from Rev Linda Shuker when faced with a dilemma regarding confidentiality, individuals at risk and the law.

The Volunteer must seek specific consent of the person to pass on any personal information to anyone else and must only seek that consent for a particular reason. Particular care should be taken to seek permission before telling someone else’s story, even in disguised form. People’s names should not be included in any publication unless they have given explicit permission.

A Volunteer, however, cannot assume confidentiality if they share information with someone to whom they are offering help. If they ask for confidentiality there is a risk of burdening the person with secrets or creating an inappropriate climate of secrecy between them.


  • Volunteers must respect the personhood and the views of every person to whom they provide help.
  • Volunteers must take steps to safeguard the person’s safety and not take advantage of a vulnerable person.
  • They will not exploit financially, emotionally or sexually any person to whom they are providing help.
  • Volunteers will not seek to treat one person with less respect and opportunity than others because of race, language, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, age, faith, size, income, disability, health, abode or criminal record.
  • Volunteers will respect those with whom they disagree.
  • Whilst maintaining set boundaries, Volunteers will be patient with those who are aggressive, or unwilling to listen and discuss options.
  • Volunteers will not subject any person to physical, psychological or verbal harassment.
  • Volunteers should be careful to offer a healthy example of personal relationships and self-control.

Touch, Sexuality and Intimacy

Volunteers must not be sexually intimate with a person to whom they are providing help. Great care must be taken by those providing help where children and young people are present in the home. Physical contact between an adult and a young person can often be misconstrued.

While appropriate use of touch can often be an important pastoral support for those in need, in the current public health crisis touch is not permitted in any way so as to minimize the possible risk of infection.


Volunteers should seek to recognise the limits of their competence and seek support if they feel out of their depth. Where a person’s needs are recognised as being outside the Volunteers competence they should seek the agreement of the person to refer them to someone who can offer appropriate help. Volunteers must recognise that they are not expected to carry out the role of professional care providers or the Social Services. They must seek permission from the person concerned to involve Social Services, Age Concern, the Clergy etc as appropriate.

Volunteers must take care to deal cautiously with persons who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and persons who are suffering from mental illness or impairment. They must not put their personal safety or that of others at risk.

Volunteers should try to be honest and open.

When making a visit, it is good practice to arrange the time in advance.

GDPR and Records

The only records which will be kept as part of this exercise will be names, addresses, telephone numbers, and email addresses, the offer of help or the request for help. The BART Churches have agreed to act as the Data Controller. All personal data will be deleted once the COVID-19 crisis comes to an end, the Government lift the restrictions and the need for the Network to continue has ended.

One small point in regard to data is that it is good practice for Volunteers to note down times and dates of visits so that it is possible to check that people in similar circumstances are being
treated equally and in order to create a written record if there is a problem at a later date. This is both for the protection of the person being helped and the Volunteer who was helping them.