20 Feb 2013

Hugh backs schools project to protect kids from abuse

Renfrewshire South MSP Hugh Henry learned how children have a brand new Buddy to help them if they are worried about issues such as cruelty and abuse when ChildLine staged a special event at Holyrood.

The Shadow Cabinet Minister for Education was helping to showcase an ambitious new project launched by the charity that has been dubbed Schools Service.

And the Labour man is backing the charity’s call for volunteers in Renfrewshire to help deliver the brand new project at schools across the area.

Hugh said: “This new groundbreaking project is aimed at helping protect children from abuse by making sure they know where to turn if they think something is wrong or if they have no-one else to turn to. The aim is that the presentation given to the Scottish Parliament is now taken round every school in Scotland. However, many teams of volunteers are needed if this is to be achieved.

“I would hope that as always, the project gets a good response from Renfrewshire and we can all work together to make sure that every child has someone they can talk to without fear of retribution.”

Parliamentarians, Scottish Government officials and local authority partners joined primary seven pupils for the Schools Service assembly which was delivered by volunteers, who introduced pupils to the ChildLine Schools Service mascot Buddy and told them that, if they have any worries, there is always someone they can turn to.

The new ChildLine service aims to give children the knowledge they need in clear, reassuring and age-appropriate language, using assemblies and workshops.

Sessions are sensitively tailored to ensure topics are covered in a way that children can understand and have been approved as suitable for nine to 11-year-olds by child protection specialists.

By training volunteers to speak to every primary school child, in every classroom of every community, ChildLine wants to start a societal change that could bring about a long-term reduction in child cruelty.

Richard Caswell, Schools Service area co-ordinator for Renfrewshire, said: “Recent media reports have highlighted how abusers prevent children from speaking out about what is happening to them.

“Research tells us that child abuse can remain hidden for many years, with some children suffering in silence and other youngsters continuing to be at risk from perpetrators. Many children fail to recognise their experience as abusive and often do not know where to turn to for help.

“We believe that teaching children how to recognise abuse and where to get help will be easiest in a school setting and we need members of the local community to help us do this. Volunteers are central to the delivery of this exciting new service, which will give individuals the opportunity to work directly with groups of children.

“It’s vital that local people come forward to help us protect future generations. This is a great opportunity for those who can spare the time to do something to help protect and educate children.”

The children’s charity is looking for volunteers, who must be aged 16 or over, to be trained to communicate and engage with children and who are confident enough to deliver presentations in schools.

Ideally, volunteers will be people who live close to the schools they visit.

The ChildLine Schools Service has already visited 370 schools and spoken to 19,000 children across Scotland letting them know about different forms of abuse and how to get help and support if they need it. They are also told about ChildLine and how to contact the helpline if they should ever need to.

To apply online for a volunteer position with the ChildLine Schools Service, visit www.nspcc.org.uk/schoolsservice

For more information, call Richard on 0777 358 2397 or send an e-mail to rcaswell@nspcc.org.uk