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Shocking disparity in C of E maternity care, new report says

by Premier Journalist
Mum  mother.jpg - Banner image
Image: Clergy Babies

A new report has highlighted significant differences of maternity provision in the Church of England.

The research, undertaken by a group of clergy mums, revealed the shocking disparity between dioceses for female employees seeking maternity leave and care.

Some dioceses have clear, compassionate maternity policies, but many are not implemented, opaque and hard to uncover or understand, they discovered.

Rev Chantal Noppen, Team Vicar of North Wearside (Durham), Rev Dr Rae Caro, Priest-in-Charge of St Mark’s, Shiremoor (Newcastle), and Rev Caroline Taylor, Vicar of Marton-in-Cleveland with Easterside (York) uncovered some terrible stories of women clergy “who had been denied leave, mistreated, or encouraged to leave ministry due to having a child in the Church of England”.

Their research came out of a Facebook group called Clergy babies which they set up after realising their experiences of having children as Church of England employees had been very different, despite all experiencing maternity leave a short time apart.

Rev Noppen told Premier: “We happen to be from three different dioceses. And we became aware that we'd all gone through very different things when we had our children. And that was a bit odd. It was quite hard getting access to the information about how leave would work, who organized cover, what pay would be like, how it all worked. That information just wasn't readily available.”

The women, who all have pre-school and primary-school-age children, born or adopted during training, curacy, or incumbency, said that although the Church of England’s 2020 guidance on maternity treatment was “really, really good”, many Church employees were not conversant with the guidance, could not signpost it, and did not have their own policies.

Women who are pregnant or have just had babies could not always push for their rights, the report said. However they were often forced to “challenge those with power and authority over them” from a vulnerable position, it added.

Rev Noppen urged the national church to support, oversee and co-ordinate maternity care and the policies and recommendations already in place. “If they did that, in all dioceses, everyone would want to be a vicar”, she added.

You can read the full report here.

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