A LOUDfence involves tying LOUD (brightly coloured) ribbons and messages of support in public spaces to show support to all victims and survivors of child abuse. The aim is to give survivors a voice, create awareness in the community and work to end child abuse.

LOUDfence will be hosted at St Chad’s Cathedral from Sunday 7 May to Saturday 13 May.

During the event people will be encouraged to contribute to the LOUDfence display of support and solidarity with those affected by abuse. Ribbons will be tied to railings inside and outside the cathedral to represent the voices of those who wish to speak out in support and defence of those affected by abuse.

There will be an opportunity for quiet time and reflection, the chance to offer a message or prayer and attend Mass as well as displays and information from various charities.

Members of the Diocesan Safeguarding Team will also be on hand should anyone wish to talk. The Survivor Engagement Panel which works closely with the Safeguarding Team is also supporting the LOUDfence initiative.

The survivor-led initiative was brought to the UK in 2020 at the parish of Kirkbampton, Cumbria, by Antonia Sobocki, Director of Activism at Survivors Voices and the UK Project Manager for LOUDfence UK.

She said: "As a survivor of familial child abuse, the church did exactly what it should have done. It loved, valued, included and nurtured me. I think it would be no exaggeration to say the church became a kind of replacement family for me and I have always loved the church for how it has helped me. It is for this reason I work in Catholic activism.

“There have been serious safeguarding failings in the past but I know that when the church gets it right, it can get it spectacularly right. This requires all of us to work together for that church we all love and value so much.”

The LOUDfence started at St Peter's Anglican Church in Kirkbampton and spread to Rochester Cathedral, Carlisle Cathedral, Ely Cathedral, Northampton RC Cathedral, as part of the celebrations for the opening of the Healing Garden, both cathedrals in Birmingham last October, Plymouth RC Diocese and Truro CofE Cathedral. One has also just taken place in Lourdes, France.

There will be a LOUDfence in May at St George’s RC Cathedral, Southwark and the RC Church in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire for Northampton RC Diocese. There are LOUDfences planned for Rochester and Carlisle Cathedrals in the autumn, and dates with other cathedrals and dioceses are being set throughout the year.

More details about the event at St Chad’s Cathedral will be released in due course.