Survivors of church-based abuse host LOUDfence service at Newcastle Cathedral

First published on: 7th March 2024

The Very Revd Lee Batson (Dean of Newcastle), The Revd Canon Peter Dobson (Canon for Outreach & Discipleship at Newcastle Cathedral), The Rt Revd Mark Wroe (Bishop of Berwick), Sarah Troughton (Survivor), Peter Locke (Survivor), Antonia Sobocki (LOUDfence Director), David Creese (Survivor), Maggi Creese (Lead Officer, Chaplaincy to Survivors) and The Rt Revd Stephen Wright (Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle).

A special service took place at New­castle Cathedral as part of a five-day LOUDfence event in support of victims and survivors of church-based abuse.

The ‘Service of the Word’ was led by survivors and was planned by Sarah Troughton, David Creese and Peter Locke, all of whom have experienced church-based abuse and were brought together by the Chaplaincy to Survi­vors. The service, on 6 March was attended by senior church clergy, including Bishop Mark and the Dean of New­castle, the Very Revd Lee Batson.

The LOUDfence event saw temporary fences erected inside and outside the cathedral from 4 to 8 March for people to tie on brightly coloured ribbons in solidarity with all victims and survivors of abuse. Parishes across the Diocese were invited to knit or crochet ‘loud’ woollen strawberries to attach to the fences, inspired by artwork from the ‘If I told You, What Would You Do?’ project, to engage with survivors of faith-based abuse.

Inside the cathedral, unique artwork created by Sarah, David and Peter was on public dis­play.

Newcastle Cathedral worked in co-ordination with the City’s St Mary’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, which also joined in the LOUD­fence event with similar fences being erected and an opening Mass, which took place on 3 March.

The original idea behind the international movement LOUDfence, which started in Aus­tralia in 2015, was to tie brightly coloured rib­bons to a fence as a sign of support for and solidarity with victims and survivors of child sexual abuse. The fences express support for all those harmed by any form of abuse in the Church and the ‘loud’ ribbons represent a determination to break the silence around abuse.

Survivor Peter Locke, who jointly planned the service, said: “The experience of working on this project with Sarah and David has helped me to rebuild my self-confidence and trust in others. I have a long way to go, but I am using my musical skills and knowledge to help oth­ers, and I hope that this will continue.

“We are all entitled to trust and to be trusted. We are all entitled to have our voices heard. We need confidence to speak and to be lis­tened to in confidence, and with confidential­ity. We need neither gossip, nor slander. I hope that the Church will continue to work to be a Christian presence in every community, including the community of the hurt, injured and wounded.”

Bishop Helen-Ann said: “I am extremely proud to support the LOUDfence event and am grateful to Sarah, David and Peter for plan­ning this special service at Newcastle Cathe­dral. In the Diocese of Newcastle, we are absolutely committed to being innovative in the ways we engage with victims and survi­vors. It is essential that their voices are heard if our church communities are to be safe spaces for everyone.

“As a Church, we must place the needs of all victims and survivors at the core of who we are and what we do and I want to thank everyone who joined in this LOUDfence event, which was planned by survivors to powerfully illustrate the importance of break­ing the silence around historic abuse.”

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