Voices of survivors of abuse are heard as part of Pillars of Hope, Durham Cathedral’s first Safeguarding Week

Durham Cathedral is inviting the public to show support for victims and survivors of abuse as part of Pillars of Hope, a week of activities which began on Monday 14 November and continues until Sunday 20 November.

To show support, Durham Cathedral's Galilee Chapel has become a centrepoint for victims and survivors of abuse this week. A rope running through the cathedral’s Chapel has been covered in hundreds of ribbons tied by visitors, alongside a display of poems and music written by those whose lives have been affected by abuse.

The poems were created through a project called If I Told You, What Would You Do?, jointly funded by the Diocese of Newcastle and Safe Spaces. The project engaged survivors of faith-based abuse in a creative project to foster compassion with those who need to see and hear them, and build the confidence of those who are in a position to respond well to them. The outcome of the project was a suite of seven reflections developed by survivors, complemented by poems, original artwork, music, and short films.

A representative of Durham Cathedral says, “Durham Cathedral is a safe space where everyone is welcome. Our first Safeguarding Week is an opportunity for the cathedral community and visitors to publicly show support for victims and survivors of abuse."

“Many visitors have been deeply affected by the words of those whose lives have been affected by abuse. The poems ask ‘If I told you, what would you do?’, and we hope that visitors take away the positive things they can do to understand and help those around them whose lives have been darkened by abuse.”

The cathedral’s services of worship during the week has included prayers for the vulnerable and victims of abuse, and this theme will be part of a service on Safeguarding Sunday, 20 November.

Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility at Durham Cathedral. Clergy, staff and volunteers undertake mandatory safeguarding training from the Church of England, which embeds vigilance and empathy within the culture of the cathedral community.

The Reverend Canon Michael Everitt, Canon Pastor at Durham Cathedral says, “Most recently, the final report of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in October this year demonstrated serious failures in the Church of England’s response to abuse of those in its care. It is vitally important that the church is honest about what went wrong, and diligent in continuing to make real improvements to how we respond to safeguarding concerns.

"Pillars of Hope has been a poignant opportunity to engage the public in the Church of England’s work to ensure everyone feels safe and listened to. Durham Cathedral underwent an independent safeguarding audit in July 2021, which was positive about Durham Cathedral’s commitment to safeguarding. It gave the cathedral the opportunity to reflect on how we can further improve safeguarding in the future.”

The opportunity for visitors to add their ribbon to the rope and listen to poems and music in the Galilee Chapel continues until Sunday 20 November.