Policy regarding the safety of young
This document has been drawn up with
- 'Balance – Good Practice
Guidelines for Working With Children and Young People in Parishes'
(Diocese of Sheffield, 1999), and
- 'Good Practice in Consent
Implementation Guide: Consent to Examination or Treatment'
(Department of Health, 2001)
- 'A Programme for Action: Review on
Child Protection in the Catholic Church in England and Wales' (The
Nolan Report - September 2001)
The 'Leadership' is taken to mean those
on the Leg in particular positions of responsibility, e.g. Leaders,
Secretaries, Chaplains etc.
The annual Student Cross Pilgrimage has been walking to Walsingham
since 1948. When it was first started it was anticipated that it
would principally be for students currently at University. However
things always change and in the intervening years many people have
continued to be involved with the organisation as pilgrims long
after student days are finished. Another change has been the
involvement of young people and children. These could be the
children of pilgrims, younger students (e.g. 6th formers), or
children from parishes who join a Leg for the day. Recently it has
been felt by many involved with the pilgrimage that now is the time
to consider the arrangements made for such pilgrims. In other words
how can we create an environment where young people can benefit
maximally from all that the Pilgrimage has to offer?
Student Cross believes in and is committed to the safety of all
children, particularly those involved in the annual Easter
pilgrimage to Walsingham. The pilgrimage will try to create a safe
environment for all children and young people involved in the
pilgrimage in the following ways:
The Leader of any Leg will have the
final decision about whether people under 18 can walk on their
Leg. This decision should be taken in consultation with GOD.
If someone under 18 is allowed onto a
Leg then they must have written permission from their parent or
carer stating who their Nominated Adult is during the pilgrimage.
This permission will be given via
Form PC and the Leadership of
the Leg in question will keep a copy of this.
It will be the responsibility of the
Nominated Adult to:
i) contact the parent or carer in the case of any emergency
(therefore they must have contact details),
ii) give consent to treatment in situations where the young person
lacks capacity to do so and the parent or carer cannot be
iii) take all reasonable steps to ensure that the young person is
safe during the pilgrimage (this means that care will be taken to
ensure that the young person is not put, or does not put
themselves, in a position where they could be vulnerable to harm),
iv) ensure that the young person does not drink alcohol on
v) take all reasonable steps to ensure that the young person is
not involved in illegal activity.
If points i – v above are not adhered to
then the Leadership of the Leg in question should attempt, through
discussion and negotiation, to address any difficulties there may
be. It will, ultimately however, be the right of the Leadership to
ask the young person to leave the pilgrimage if such issues remain
unresolved. This decision should be taken in consultation with
The Leadership of a Leg, although not
directly responsible for such a young person, are in a particular
position of trust during the pilgrimage. As such their
relationship with that person should be appropriate, particularly
with respect to points iii, iv and v above.
Student Cross is very grateful for the
hospitality shown by those who welcome us. This includes publicans,
many of whom have become good friends of the pilgrimage over the
years. The pilgrimage does not wish to see their livelihoods
compromised by the activity of any pilgrims.
Student Cross accepts that sometimes people join the Legs to walk
for a part of the route, e.g. from parishes along the way. If such a
person is under 18 then the Leadership should still adhere to the
above safeguards. To facilitate this the Leadership should carry
with them copies of
Form PC to obtain parental consent as well as
copies of this document.
All parents/carers who are thinking of allowing their child to take
part in Student Cross should realise that each Leg has their own
guidelines and procedures. They should investigate these and be
clear what Student Cross involves. In the same way the Leadership of
each Leg should ensure that parents are aware of what occurs during
the week, e.g. how far is walked, what happens in the evenings etc.
In addition to this the Leadership of Legs will provide
parents/carers and prospective Nominated Adults with copies of this
With respect to Peg and Wells Legs, the above safeguards should
still be taken if a child whose parent or carer is not present takes
part in the pilgrimage.
Much of the guidance concerning the
safety of children and young people with respect to their contact
with religious organisations centres around volunteers and church
employees who 'work' with them. Student Cross does not enlist people
to 'look after' children while on the pilgrimage. In this way the
guidance does not adequately deal with the needs of the pilgrimage.
On Peg and Wells Legs, parents are advised to satisfy themselves
that they are happy to leave their child in someone else’s care. How
they make this determination is their responsibility. The Leadership
of Peg and Wells Legs, however, have the right, in the same way as
all Leg Leaderships do, to decide who they will allow to walk the
Legs in any particular year.
SUPPORT DURING THE PILGRIMAGE
There may well be times on the pilgrimage when, in the light of
particular difficulties, individuals feel that they require someone
to talk to who is independent of the Leg they are walking on.
Examples may be:
a young person who wishes to discuss any
issue important to them, or
another walker who requires guidance or
support because of something that has been revealed to them (by a
young walker for instance)
In this case all Leaders will have
access to mobile phone numbers of people on the Pilgrimage who are
available to provide support and are willing to listen. These people
will, as a consequence of their professional training and
experience, be accustomed to listening to people’s personal
For many people the Pilgrimage is a place of safety. It provides an
environment where life’s difficulties and hurts can be shared in a
climate of security. In this climate a young person may wish to
share life experiences that are beyond the remit of anyone on the
Pilgrimage to deal with. It is important to remember that if a young
person has chosen to share such experiences then they are doing so,
most likely, because they feel safe and trust those around them.
This trust should be respected. The information should be dealt with
calmly and in a way that does not increase the young persons level
of fear and powerlessness. To this end the Leaders will also have
contact numbers of the Diocesan Child Protection Officer of the area
that they happen to be in at that time. This person can be contacted
for support, guidance and possible legal advice.
To promote the contents of this document and ensure Legs are aware
of their responsibilities Student Cross will appoint an officer to
oversee the Safety of Young Pilgrims. This person will also ensure
that this document is revisited and, if necessary, revised on an
annual basis, and will keep a copy of each
Form PC completed for any
If you have any questions about the contents of this document
please email: co-ordinator [at]