Managing Lone Worker Safety in the Clergy

We outline the risks to clergy (particularly those who work alone), tips for keeping members of the clergy safe and how lone worker safety technology can protect them.

Lone working is common practice for many members of the clergy who are tasked with visiting and ministering to their congregants, sometimes in isolated or remote locations. While this type of work can be rewarding and fulfilling, it also presents certain safety and security risks to those who carry it out.

Churches and other religious premises should be places of peace, sanctuary and contemplation. But unfortunately, incidents of abuse and violence do occur so it’s important to have appropriate protective measures in place.

In this blog, we outline the risks to clergy (particularly those who work alone), tips for keeping members of the clergy safe and how lone worker safety technology can support them.

What are the risks to clergy who work alone?

One of the biggest dangers faced by lone workers in the clergy is the possibility of physical harm. This may come in the form of an attack, theft, or accident.

There are some characteristics of a role in a religious organisation which can make workers susceptible to this risk, including:

  • Mixing with a broad range of people - some of whom may be completely unknown
  • Working alone for signi?cant periods – either in an o?ce, within the church vestry or the wider estate
  • Visiting members of the community in their homes
  • Supporting people during turbulent or emotional times
  • Inviting people into their own homes, sometimes with their own family in the immediate vicinity.

Examples of attacks on clergy

Unfortunately, examples of attacks on clergy make us realise that even these holy places are not completely safe from danger.

In 2022, a Sikh priest was assaulted in Manchester and left with life-changing injuries and, in 2009, a vicar was attacked in Essex as he made his way to his church. A Google search shows more examples.

Tips for keeping members of the clergy safe

Lone working is an important and fulfilling aspect of the clergy's work, but it also presents certain risks to their safety and protection. The diocese and church must take steps to mitigate these risks

There are several things that vicars, priests, deacons, churchwardens or any other clergy member can do to keep themselves and their colleagues and families safe from violence or abuse. Examples include:

  1. Ensuring a colleague, family member or friend is made aware before you meet with someone
  2. Avoiding meeting with anyone under 18 alone
  3. Ensuring visitors are never left unattended in an office or home, particularly visitors who you are not familiar with
  4. Not inviting visitors into personal areas of your home
  5. Ensuring entrances to buildings have spy holes in the doors and are well lit
  6. Carrying a lone worker safety device or installing a personal safety app on your phone so you can quickly and discreetly call for help in an emergency
  7. Taking personal safety training such as that provided by Suzy Lamplugh Trust
  8. Ensuring church grounds (particularly walkways) are lit at night
  9. Supporting colleague wellbeing by providing regular opportunities to connect with others (particularly with those working in similar roles) and providing mental health support
  10. Ensuring all external doors have secure locks and installing a CCTV security system in high-risk areas.

You may also want to read our blog for additional guidance: How to deal with aggression: Top tips

How can a lone worker safety solution help to keep clergy safe?

In the face of danger, raising an audible alarm or phoning 999 may cause a situation to escalate.

Just one press of a Red Alert panic button on a SoloProtect lone worker safety device will silently connect the user to a specially trained operator in the Alarm Receiving Centre. The operator will quickly locate the device, discreetly listen in to the situation and send help to where it’s needed. This may be calling the police, ambulance, a colleague or a family member depending on the scenario.

The device will also monitor for a "man down" incident. If it detects a fall, it will also automatically raise an alarm. This can be a lifesaver in a violent situation or if the user has suffered a health issue e.g. heart attack, stroke or seizure.

Take a look at our case study: N+ Controls Uses SoloProtect to Keep Worker with Epilepsy Safe

If you’re unsure whether you are classed as a “lone worker”, our article What is a lone worker? will help you decide.

Benefits of safety technology for clergy

Clergy members play an invaluable role in nurturing the spiritual and emotional well-being of their communities. However, they, too, deserve the same level of care and protection in return. Implementing a lone worker safety solution is not only a practical step towards safeguarding the clergy but also a gesture that shows appreciation and respect for their service.

Other benefits include:

  1. Get a much quicker response in an emergency (we can bypass 999 and request a level 1 police response)
  2. Raise an alarm discreetly, without making others aware that help has been called
  3. Members of the clergy can perform their duties with confidence and peace of mind that support is available at the push of a button
  4. Detects a sudden fall or can be used to request help following a health issue (ideal for anyone with health concerns)
  5. Provides peace of mind for families that their loved ones are safe
  6. Demonstrates that lone worker risks have been considered and appropriately controlled as part of a lone working policy and lone worker risk assessment
  7. Use recordings of genuine incidents for police enquiries, legal proceedings and future training.

Further information

If you’d like some more information about how our lone worker solutions could help to keep you or your colleagues safe, please get in touch using the form below.

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