Two representatives of LoudFence, a movement which visibly displays support for those affected by abuse, met with Pope Francis recently. Antonia Sobocki and Maggie Mathews, representatives of the LOUDfence association, opened a session for the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. On meeting the two ladies, Pope Francis called LoudFence a ‘sign of hope’.

Throughout this year, Cathedrals and churches across the United Kingdom have hosted LoudFence events in support of those affected by abuse, including in May this year, St Teresa’s in Beaconsfield.

As a visible display of solidarity, LoudFence encourages people to tie ribbons to the fences of Churches. At his recent installation as Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle, Bishop Stephen Wright tied a ribbon to the cathedra on the sanctuary in the Cathedral. Often people will write notes of testimony or support for victims and survivors of abuse. Of the messages of support sent to Rome was one written by Bishop David Oakley. In the message, Bishop David spoke of our desire to reach out to victims of abuse through the healing and reconciliation garden. Speaking of LoudFence he said,  “it will develop seeds of hope and healing throughout the Church”.

Within our diocese, our Healing and Reconciliation group are actively seeking members to represent the voices of those affected by abuse. The Healing and Reconciliation group is a sub-group of the Safeguarding Advisory Board and was formed in early 2019 as part of the Diocese’s aspiration to improve the way that we respond to and engage with those who have been hurt by abuse. The essence of the group has included a desire to raise greater awareness of abuse, increase understanding of its impact upon those affected and work towards creating a safer and more compassionate environment for anyone seeking comfort and healing from spiritual, emotional, sexual and other forms of abuse.