NSPCC Schools Service in Somerset The children and adults pictured are models. Credit Tom Hull

The NSPCC is appealing for people in Somerset to support them with their work teaching primary school children about the different types of abuse and where they can go for help should they ever need it.

The charity funds a Schools Service across the country, which sees trained members of staff and volunteers deliver free safeguarding sessions in primary schools that sign up.

In the 2018/19 academic year, the programme was delivered to more than 17,300 children aged 5-11 at 92 primary schools across the Local Education Authority areas of Bath and North East Somerset (BANES), North Somerset, and Somerset.

The ‘Speak out, Stay safe’ assemblies and workshops help them learn in an age-appropriate way about physical, sexual and emotional abuse, as well as neglect and bullying.

Gemma Darby. an Area Co-ordinator for the charity’s Schools Service in Somerset, says: “At the moment, we don’t have enough volunteers to help us deliver these really important safeguarding sessions in schools across Somerset, particularly in the north of the county and across BANES.”

“It’s why we’re appealing to anyone who has a passion for protecting children to help us empower the next generation to know about the types of abuse and identify trusted adults should they have a concern, who will be able to take action to keep them safe.”

Thousands of children watched the Speak out Stay safe programme

With more volunteers, the children’s charity is hoping to be able to benefit more children.

Gemma added: “We offer the service free to primary schools and without a devoted team of volunteers it wouldn’t be possible to do this.”

“Some of our volunteers may deliver two sessions a month, whereas others may have the time to deliver one or two a week.”

“Our volunteers come from all different backgrounds, but what they all have in common is a shared desire to protect children from harm by educating them about the different kinds of abuse, trusted adults, and our charity’s Childline service.”

NSPCC research highlights that on average, two children in every classroom have suffered abuse or neglect, with one in 20 children having been sexually abused. It’s why the charity aims to visit every primary school every three years to deliver the ‘Speak Out. Stay Safe.’ programme.

Tamsin Sheldrake, who works for the NSPCC’s Schools Service in Somerset, adds: “Our volunteers have to feel comfortable talking about what may initially seem a difficult subject for adults to discuss with children.”

“They take our mascot Buddy into schools to help engage the children in a light-hearted way, using simple language and fun activities to help them learn about abuse in a non-scary way.”

The service’s mascot Buddy is introduced to children in all the different year groups, who are taught how to identify a trusted adult they can speak to if something is worrying them.

One in three children who have been sexually abused by an adult did not tell someone at the time, and so the children learn about Childline and how it can support them at any time of day or night, should they need to talk to someone.

The safeguarding assemblies start conversations around abuse in a live, interactive and memorable way, and pave the way for teachers to continue these discussion with their students in the classroom.

Successful applicants who become volunteers for the Schools Service receive a comprehensive training package, which includes online and face-to-face training, as well as peer mentoring.

More information is available on the charity’s website. Anyone interested in volunteering for the Schools Service can contact Tamsin or Gemma on 07557030294 or email somersetschoolsservice@nspcc.org.uk.

Anyone with any concerns about the welfare of a child can call the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000 or visit nspcc.org.uk for advice. Children can contact Childline on 0800 1111 or visit childline.org.uk for free 24/7, 365 days a year.


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