NSPCC appeals for school volunteers in Cornwall

The NSPCC is appealing for more volunteers in Cornwall, to help teach primary school children about the different types of abuse.

The children’s charity funds a Schools Service across Cornwall, which sees trained members of staff and volunteers deliver Speak Out Stay Safe assemblies to children.

The assemblies are tailored to different year groups to ensure the content is age-appropriate, and children are helped to identify a trusted adult they can speak to if they have worries about themselves or a friend.

Michelle Green is the NSPCC’s Schools Service Area Co-ordinator for Cornwall and Plymouth. She says: “The children learn about physical, sexual and emotional abuse as well as neglect and bullying.

“We have some wonderful volunteers who make it possible for us to deliver these important messages to school children across Cornwall.

“They are dedicated, enthusiastic and have a passion for keeping children safe. We are looking for more volunteers to help us deliver this service and would love to hear from anyone with a passion for protecting children.”

The last academic year saw 68 schools in Cornwall welcome NSPCC staff and volunteers delivering Speak Out Stay Safe assemblies to more than 12,000 children with the help of the charity’s mascot Buddy.

Michelle added: “On average, two children in every classroom have suffered abuse or neglect and so we aim to visit every primary school across Cornwall every three years to deliver our Speak Out Stay Safe programme.

“We know that one in three children who have been sexually abused by an adult did not tell someone at the time. Our assemblies and workshops empower a generation of children to know about the different kinds of abuse and how they can talk to a trusted adult if they are concerned about themselves or a friend.”

The assemblies are for children aged 5-11 and teach them about safeguarding and abuse in a lively, interactive and memorable way.

They learn about the NSPCC’s Childline service and how it can support them at any time of day or night. Many of them go home singing the Childline number, which they are taught to remember through actions.

Jill Cooper has been volunteering with the charity’s School Service for six years, delivering assemblies and workshops to primary school children in South East Cornwall, South Devon and Plymouth.

She says: “Being involved in the NSPCC’s Schools Service is something I love doing. I get a huge amount out of it. I like being around young people, because that’s something I missed when I left teaching. I find it really worthwhile.”

Jill is a former deputy headteacher at a secondary school in the region, but says you don’t have to have a teaching or safeguarding background to become a volunteer with the service, because of the quality of the training involved.

“I get a lot out of working with other volunteers,” says Jill.

“They are all different ages, they have fascinating and different backgrounds. The way into this role isn’t through teaching alone.”

In 2017/18 the charity’s Schools Service team visited more than 8,000 schools and spoke with around 1.8 million children in the UK and Channel Islands about abuse.

Older students, in years 5 and 6, take part in additional workshops that go into more details – looking at different scenarios and deciding whether they are OK or not OK.

Teachers are present throughout the assemblies and workshops, which are free for all primary schools.

Jill added: “They are the ones who know the students and can interpret what a child’s body language might say. Some teachers are frightened about talking to students about abuse for a number of reasons. Our main role is to open the conversation up, so that teachers can go on to having those discussions with their pupils afterwards.”

NSPCC research shows one in 20 children have been sexually abused.

Michelle says: “It takes a special kind of person to volunteer for our Schools Service. It can be a difficult subject for adults to broach with these children, so we need volunteers who are comfortable doing just that to help teachers continue these important conversations with their students.”

If you’d like to find out more about how you can volunteer with the NSPCC’s Schools Service contact 02920 108133 or southwestappeals@nspcc.org.uk.

The NSPCC is committed to keeping children safe and every penny raised for the charity helps ensure every child has the chance to thrive, free from abuse or neglect.

For more information on how you can fundraise for the NSPCC contact Alison Armer, Community Fundraising Manager for Cornwall, Plymouth and Devon on 07779341767 or Alison.armer@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 call Childline on 0800 1111 or visit childline.org.uk. Both are free and available 365 days a year.

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