I was offered two jobs, although both were not full time contracts. Both were working with Charities involved in the care sector. One was agency work and I was told that there were plenty of shifts available with opportunity of a full time contract. The other was a supplementary job working on a zero hour basis. Both roles involved an element of lone working.
As a church minister, lone working was nothing new to me. However, being trained to keep and stay safe while lone working was a new concept. The church had a lone working policy that applied to employees, but ministers did not fall under that category. No church legally considers their ministers as employees. Such any minister take any sort of action against the church as their employer, the case is always thrown out of court. Currently, no courtroom will overturn the church’s stance that the minister’s contract is with God, not the church as the minister entered into a spiritual covenant rather than an employment contract.
Many Church ministers get called upon to enter dangerous situations with very few people knowing where they are. No risk assessments are ever carried out concerning the well-being and safety of a minister. In recent years several vicars have been murdered by people they were trying to help. Around 12% of all clergy have suffered some form of harassment or suffering. I’d never even thought about my own safety as a church minister. I’d entered squats and other dangerous places alone. I’d had to deal with people who were very clearly disturbed unaware whether they posed a risk. Putting your trust in God alone sometimes isn’t enough.
I only realised the importance of feeling safe when lone working when instructed by the two charities that employed me. Both gave me alarms and instructions to follow your gut instinct. Both had policies that mean that all work spaces including clients homes were risked assessed. One charity also gave me a works mobile phone and every appointment was clearly logged. If there were any last minute changes, I had to notify the control office immediate. There were also certain times of the day where I had to make contact. Failure to respond could mean that my own personal safety plan was put into operation. Knowing that the organisation was looking out for my welfare certainly helped my own sense of well-being. I felt I was working for an organisation that actually valued me as a person.