Christian charity apologises and suspends founder amid safeguarding investigation

24 May 2023 News

Rev Canon Mike Pilavachi

Soul Survivor

A Christian charity has suspended its founder as an employee while the Church of England investigates safeguarding concerns and apologised for not acting sooner.

Last month, Mike Pilavachi terminated his role as a director of Soul Survivor Watford after being accused of taking part in “inappropriate massages”. 

At the time, the charity said that “non-recent safeguarding concerns” relating to Pilavachi had been reported to the national church and that the Church of England’s national safeguarding team (NST) would carry out an investigation.

Initially, Soul Survivor Watford chair David Mitchell said that Pilavachi had not been suspended and that “the concerns currently relate to matters which occurred a considerable time ago”.

However, the charity has now reversed its decision, saying that “it has become clear that this more decisive action should have been made earlier and we have acted to correct this now”.

Earlier this month, the charity also acknowledged that “more recent allegations have come to light”.

‘We’re sorry for the pain caused’

In an online statement published on 20 May, the charity said it has suspended Pilavachi “with immediate effect” as NST carries out its investigation.

“We want to reiterate that we are especially aware of the responsibility we have towards those who reported their safeguarding concerns to the Church of England and of how much they are suffering. We regret this was not clear in our initial statement made on 2nd April and are sorry for the pain caused as a result,” it said.

“We are continuing to cooperate fully with the investigation. We are assured that anyone affected will continue to be given the opportunity to contribute to the investigation and given the support they need. We are also committed to reviewing the culture of Soul Survivor Watford and are determined that lessons are learned to ensure a strong, healthy and supportive environment for anyone who calls this church their home.”

The charity said that it is aware of the “many people who are feeling hurt and confused”, adding that “it takes a lot of courage to speak up”. 

For more news, interviews, opinion and analysis about charities and the voluntary sector, sign up to receive the free Civil Society daily news bulletin here.

More on