Meet Clare Oldfield, recently appointed at St George's as our safeguarding officer. She tells us a bit about herself, the role and how to pray.
Tell us a bit about yourself... I went to Park Lane College after leaving school before getting a job with an insurance company for 6 years; this showed me that I should work with people rather than speaking down a phone. I wanted to be a social worker, not even knowing what this really involved. I was already volunteering for Leeds Aids Advice and didn’t get on the social work course the first time I applied. I left my insurance post and worked for the Crypt at Regent Terrace for a year before and during my social work course. I thought I wanted to specialise in adult mental health but my placements were working with children. Now I work with children who are at home, in foster care and their adoptive placements.
I’ve always loved being with children and have volunteered in our Sunday Gathering crèche at St G’s. I felt really prompted to apply for the role as safeguarding officer after taking time off from ministries and rotas; the whole thing was a calling from God. It made me realise how God has the bigger picture and has had a plan for me all along. It’s been a real journey through these experiences. People often ask, how can you do what you do? But I feel so called to my job.
How do you know Jesus? I’ve always gone to church and have been a member of St G’s since the age of 8! It was during my O Levels, at the age of 16; I really felt power as people prayed for me during the stressful exam period. On a Sunday night following a weekend away with the church youth group I made a commitment to God.
What is sharing life and loving Leeds to you? I am Leeds born and bred so it’s close to my heart however I love Bradford too because I’ve worked there for 17 years. I love it because it’s such a diverse city and a huge contrast to Leeds. This makes me realise that God calls us to love wherever he has placed us, so to me sharing life and loving Leeds also means loving Bradford and those I meet at work; loving Leeds and beyond.
My next door neighbours have adopted children so building relationships with them is great; being able to share life and have conversations with them is important.
What is your role at St G’s? My role is to be a link between children/vulnerable with everyone else in church (parents, leaders, other adults) and to keep everyone safe. We can’t ignore that there have been difficulties, even in churches, safeguarding children. We want to ensure that people have adequate training and accountability to keep our children protected. I am involved currently in developing the safeguarding policy for adults too. I see safeguarding as the responsibility of us all, regardless of whether we have children or not, which service we are at or what other roles we have. I encourage anyone who wants to understand this more to see me or to familiarise themselves with the policies now available on our website.
What can St G’s pray? Please pray for protection for me and for wisdom when asked questions or asked for advice. Pray also for my work life which often goes in waves; I could be visiting families or spending time in court, so please pray for peace in all areas.
Find out more about our safeguarding policy on our website.