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

First published on: 28th February 2024

A special service will be held at Newcastle Cathedral next month as part of a five-day LOUDfence event in support of victims and survivors of church-based abuse. Everyone is invited to attend.

The ‘Service of the Word’ is being led by survivors and has been planned by Sarah Troughton, David Creese and Peter Locke, all of whom have experienced church-based abuse and have been brought together by the Chaplaincy to Survivors. It is taking place on 6th March at 7pm and will be attended by senior church clergy, including the Bishop of Newcastle, the Right Reverend Dr Helen-Ann Hartley, the Bishop of Berwick, the Right Reverend Mark Wroe and the Dean of Newcastle, the Very Reverend Lee Batson.

The LOUDfence event will see temporary fences erected inside and outside the cathedral from 4th and 8th March for people to tie on brightly coloured ribbons in solidarity with all victims and survivors of abuse. Parishes across Newcastle Diocese have been 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 will be unique artwork created by Sarah, David and Peter on public display.

Newcastle Cathedral is working in co-ordination with the city’s St Mary’s Roman Catholic Cathedral which is also joining in the LOUDfence event with similar fences being erected and an opening Mass on 3rd 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 is jointly planning 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.”

The Bishop of Newcastle, the Right Reverend Dr Helen-Ann Hartley 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 would urge everyone to join us in this LOUDfence event and if at all possible attend the service at Newcastle Cathedral which is being planned by survivors who will powerfully illustrate the importance of breaking the silence around historic abuse.”

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