Charity’s new service to help Hastings kids

A CHARITY is launching a new service in 1066 Country this year to help children stay safe from abuse and neglect.

The NSPCC, as part of the campaign, plans to visit every primary school in the UK by 2016 to help youngsters’ understanding of abuse through assemblies and workshops.

The service is designed to encourage children to recognise situations where they may need help and to tell them ways of accessing support.

It will be delivered by volunteers from the ChildLine Schools Service programme.

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.

The service is currently being rolled out across the UK and is due to be up and running in Hastings early this year.

The charity needs to recruit more than 70 volunteers from across Sussex to reach the 519 schools and more than 121,000 children in three years across the county.

Across the UK, the service is recruiting a national army of 4,000 volunteers to reach the 23,420 schools and more than 1.8 million children by 2016.

Latest research by the NSPCC shows that an average of two children in every primary school classroom has suffered from abuse or neglect and the majority of cases go undetected. The charity said these young children often feel alone and desperate and many have nobody to turn to.

Most children who contact ChildLine are over 11 years of age, however many of these children suffered in silence for months or even years before eventually finding the courage to contact ChildLine, leaving themselves and other children at risk from perpetrators.

During its 18-month pilot, the ChildLine Schools Service visited 1,400 schools and spoke to 90,000 children. As part of the programme, children are shown how to talk to trusted adults about problems that may be troubling them, and also told about ChildLine and how to contact the helpline if they should ever need to.

Peter Liver, director of ChildLine, said: “This is a real opportunity to change the face of child protection in the UK.

“The ChildLine Schools Service is fundamentally focused on safeguarding young people and we believe it will make a significant contribution to preventing child abuse.”

Esther Rantzen, founder and president of ChildLine, said: “It is so important that children are encouraged to ask for help if they are in distress, and that they know ChildLine is there to support them. I found it really moving to hear an assembly of children recite our number, 0800 1111, and then watch them having fun learning to express the ChildLine number in sign language.

“But it’s more than just fun. As a result of our work so far, we have already found that some young children have been able for the first time to disclose abuse and have been protected from it.”

The NSPCC is planning to launch a national appeal to raise money for the new service early this year.

To find out how to volunteer for the scheme, visit www.nspcc.org.uk online and click on the ‘get involved’ section.