A series of information events are set to be held by the NSPCC across the South West in a bid to recruit new volunteers for the charity’s successful schools service.

Last year in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly the NSPCC delivered its Speak Out, Stay Safe programme to 16,178 children in 91 schools across the county. Volunteers play a big role in going out to local schools to help children stay safe.

Speak Out, Stay Safe is a safeguarding programme provided by the NSPCC for children aged 5 to 11. It is available free to all primary schools in the UK.

It helps children, in an age-appropriate way, to understand abuse in all its forms and how to recognise the signs; that abuse is never a child’s fault and that they have the right to be happy and safe; and where to get help including the NSPCC’s Childline service.

The NSPCC is currently recruiting volunteers in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly and across the South West to deliver workshops to Year Five and Six primary school children. Full training and support is provided for volunteers and they work alongside school staff and other volunteers to deliver the workshops.

Volunteering for the Speak Out, Stay Safe programme is suitable for people of all ages and backgrounds. All volunteers are asked to be available to deliver two school visits a month with a minimum commitment of 12 months.

Loneliness. Image by Hans Kretzmann from Pixabay

Sheila Simpson is a Speak Out, Stay Safe volunteer based in the South West, she said: “After leaving the Civil Service, I retrained as a psychotherapist and was struck when people described difficult childhoods and said they hadn’t realised this wasn’t normal for all children, so they had never asked for help.  That led me to research how to help inform children better at a younger age, and I found the NSPCC Speak Out, Stay Safe programme. I’ve been volunteering for about 8 years now and have made some wonderful friends too. 

“I really enjoy seeing how the Speak Out, Stay Safe programme engages the children. It both informs and empowers them. I absolutely love going into schools to deliver it.”

Fellow volunteer Janice Sibthorpe explained why she volunteers for the NSPCC: “I began volunteering for Speak Out, Stay Safe in 2013, after reading an article about it in the Evening Standard. The article described the service and talked about bullying and how devastating it can be if there is no one to talk to, no one to turn to.

“Previous to this a family member had been bullied, verbally and physical at school to the extent that they were the one to leave the school and look for a different school. Had they seen a Speak Out, Stay Safe assembly or workshop they may have had the courage to seek help sooner and to keep on speaking out until someone listened. The idea of speaking directly to children in a safe and age appropriate way about all forms of abuse, and that abuse is never a child’s fault resonated with me then and still does.

“I volunteer because I believe every child deserves to enjoy a safe and happy childhood. Helping children understand that they can talk to a trusted adult or Childline about whatever makes them feel sad, unsafe, frightened or worried is so important. It is a pleasure and a privilege to visit schools and deliver the Speak Out Stay Safe workshops with a committed, passionate, friendly, supportive team of like-minded volunteers.”

Michelle Green, NSPCC South West and Channel Islands Schools Service Manager, said: “The Speak Out, Stay Safe programme began in 2011 and we currently deliver the service to 90% of primary schools in South West and Channel Islands

“You don’t have to have previous experience working with children to become a volunteer, but we do ask that you are over 16, have good communication skills and that you are passionate about children’s rights and letting children know about their rights. 

“We are looking for volunteers from throughout the South West. Full training is provided and all we ask is that you commit to at least two workshops a month in schools that are convenient to you.”

Volunteer Information Meetings are being held in May and June for people who are interested in becoming volunteers for the NSPCC with Speak Out, Stay Safe. These meetings, held online, will give anyone interested more information about the role as well as a chance to ask questions.

To register your interest as a volunteer and sign up for a Volunteer Information Meeting in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly go to https://join-us.nspcc.org.uk/volunteers/vacancy/speak-out-stay-safe-volunteer-information-meeting-cornwall/6594/description/

The closing date to register is June 23 and the webpage also has more information about becoming a volunteer for the NSPCC.

If you are worried about a child, contact the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000 or email help@nspcc.org.uk

Children and young people who need help and support can contact Childline by calling 0800 111.