The Safeguarding Commission

A number of people attended the welcoming but socially-distanced event, including Fr Martin Sylvester. There were local representatives from other Christian traditions too.

Theresa showed the group three short films made by Pact. In one piece, Lewis, a former prisoner, performs his own powerful spoken word poetry.In another, two former prisoners speak movingly to each other about their experiences, how faith helped them to make a fresh start and how Pact staff and volunteers treated them: ‘They didn’t judge me. They spoke to me like a human being’.

Pact Services Manager, Lesley Ward, also attended the event and explained the life-changing work she leads covering a number of prisons and community hubs in the diocese and further afield. Lesley shared important insights into the challenges of the prison environment, particularly during the pandemic. She was able to give more information about some of the learning opportunities Pact provides, such as the parenting skills training, shown in another Pact short film. Pact works to strengthen family relationships where appropriate as this gives hope and the real potential of living a better life together in the future. Those leaving prison with strong family bonds are 39% less likely to return to crime.

The discussion led to several useful action ideas. While sharing the distressing ‘hidden sentence’ a family can live through alongside their loved one in prison, Theresa highlighted the National Prisoners’ Families Helpline which Pact provides. Fr Sylvester suggested that a poster giving details of the Freephone Helpline number ought to be in every church porch. Theresa agreed to take this forward.

Pact welcomes support from parishes and individuals. To keep in touch, if you have not already signed up to our magazine, Fresh Start, you can do so here: Sign up to Fresh Start | Prison Advice and Care Trust

There are opportunities to work as a volunteer supporting a number of Pact's services in the diocese. Pact has an established training and support programme for volunteers.

Parishes in the diocese may like to think about becoming ‘partners’ to prisons in the region where Pact has a presence. This has worked well in other areas recently. For example, parishioners have worked together to provide gift cards which prisoners can give to their children, sharing a little love and joy and strengthening family bonds this Christmas - as part of Pact's Operation Elf.

Below is a summary of contact details for the diocesan personnel responsible for Safeguarding issues:

The Diocesan Safeguarding Coordinator is Mrs. Clare McKenzie. Please contact Mrs. McKenzie by telephone at 0115 953 9850 or send e-mail to

The Safeguarding administrator, Mrs. Jane Black may be contacted by telephone at 0115 953 9849, or by sending e-mail to

The Vicar General and Clergy Advisor for Safeguarding is Rev. Fr. Joseph Wheat. Please contact Fr. Wheat by telephone at 0115 9118266 or at 07967 825278.

Appointed by the diocesan Bishop and acting on his and the diocesan trustees’ behalf the Commission has both advisory and supportive functions. The Commission receives all national policies and via the Safeguarding Co-ordinator, implements and updates them across the Diocese as required.

The Diocese of Nottingham Safeguarding Commission works with and monitors the work of the Safeguarding Coordinator and consists of representatives from the local authority, police, health and clergy, all of whom have a background in safeguarding procedures and implementation.

Whilst the Safeguarding Commission is part of the structure of the Diocese, it has a degree of independence and objectivity as not all members of the Commission are members of the Church. The structure of the Safeguarding Commission enables and encourages processes whereby survivors are always listened to and have their complaints acted upon.

Members of the Commission are:

Appointment Pending (Chair)

Fr Joe Wheat (Clergy Safeguarding Advisor)

Ruth O’Mara (Independent CSE Consultant)

Bob Ross (Nottinghamshire Safeguarding Children Board)

Rev. Peter Vellacott (Canon Lawyer)

Tony Wheat (SPANNED)

Tom Baptist (Director Diocesan Youth Service)

Sr. Maureen Brennan (Religious Safeguarding Advisor)

Muriel Weisz (NCC - Adult Social Care Portfolio)

Maggie Clark (Health)

DS Matthew Thompson (Derbyshire Police)

Additional Attendees:

Jane Black (Administrator Safeguarding (minutes))

Clare McKenzie (Safeguarding Co-ordinator)

David Lawes (COO Nottingham Diocese)

Joan McCarthy (Trustee Nottingham Diocese)

As always, in the case of immediate risk, the police should be contacted, or Social Services.