Sunderland mayor goes back to classroom to support children's charity

The new Mayor of Sunderland went back to school in support of a children's charity.

Wednesday, 30th May 2018, 6:00 am
Mayor of Sunderland Lynda Scanlan and consort Micky Horswill with chosen charity, NSPCC. Charity from left Jackie Lowden, Christine Damby-Platt and Cheryl Ellis

Coun Lynda Scanlan has chosen the NSPCC as one of her mayor’s charities this year and visited a Sunderland school to hear volunteers tell kids how to stay safe from abuse.

The mayor, along with her consort, former Sunderland FA Cup winner Micky Horswill, joined children at St Benet’s RC Primary School, in Fulwell Road, for Speak Out Stay Safe assemblies.

These assemblies are run by the NSPCC’s schools service and charity volunteers presented two, the first for children aged four to seven and the second for pupils aged seven to 11.

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The assemblies help children understand about different types of abuse and neglect so they can get help if or when they need it. They also help children identify a trusted adult they can speak to if they are ever worried about themselves or a friend, and they are given information about Childline.

Last year there were 1,965 child sex offences recorded by Northumbria Police - a third more than the previous year.

During the 2016/17 school year, NSPCC volunteers visited 33 primary schools in Sunderland and spoke to 8,825 children about this issue.

Christine Danby-Platt, Sunderland Area Coordinator for the NSPCC Schools Service, said: “Our volunteers are thoroughly trained to deliver this vital message to help children realise that they have the right to be safe and if they are concerned about anything they can speak out and be helped.

“Without the support of our volunteers our programme simply couldn’t exist and we are always looking for people who are committed to this cause to join our team.

“The assemblies are designed to be age-appropriate and we find the children to be very receptive and engaging. And we have had children who have made disclosures following a Speak Out Stay Safe assembly, which is evidence that these sessions have an impact.”

Coun Scanlan said: “It’s really important to raise awareness of the help and support that is available to help identify possible neglect and abuse, so children, families and the wider community better understand how to work together to protect against it.

“This partnership initiative builds on the work already being delivered in our schools, and it supports the aims of the council and its safeguarding partners in preventing abuse.

“From my time as deputy portfolio holder for Children’s Services I know how committed we all are to keeping children safe in Sunderland, and as mayor I am determined to support this campaign as much as I can, with the NSPCC as one of my chosen charities during my year in office.”

Ann Blakey, headteacher at St Benet’s RC Primary School, said: “We like to regularly work with the NSPCC to make sure the children are well-informed and we are always pleased that it is done in such a positive way as not to worry or scare the children.”