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Exploring the complexities of understanding vulnerability and adult safeguarding within Christian faith organisations

Oakley, LR and Fenge, L-A and Bass, S and Humphreys, J (2016) Exploring the complexities of understanding vulnerability and adult safeguarding within Christian faith organisations. The Journal of Adult Protection, 18. ISSN 1466-8203


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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to report the findings from a study exploring the understanding of vulnerability and adult safeguarding within Christian faith-based settings. The paper concludes with recommendations for practitioners involved in safeguarding adults in faith-based Christian settings. Design/methodology/approach – The paper considers a survey (n=3,182) into understanding of vulnerability and adult safeguarding for individuals who attend Church regularly or work in a Christian organisation Findings – This study is the first to be undertaken with a UK sample and highlights a range of factors informing adult safeguarding practice within Christian organisations. This includes: complexity linked to understanding vulnerability and its role in safeguarding activity; lack of clarity about what to do with a safeguarding adult concern; and the need for safeguarding training pertinent to the particular needs of faith-based settings. Research limitations/implications – As there is currently a dearth of research in this area this paper makes a valuable contribution to the developing knowledge base around safeguarding and vulnerability within faith-based organisations. Practical implications – Professionals need to develop increased understanding of the complexities involved in safeguarding activity, and specifically how those working in the wider context of supporting vulnerable adults make sense of safeguarding processes and procedures. Social implications – It is important that all organisations, including faith-based settings, working with adults have an understanding of their roles and responsibilities with respect to safeguarding those at risk of harm. Originality/value – This paper is the first UK study to consider safeguarding adults at risk of harm in Christian faith contexts.

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