Focus on knives, exploitation, abuse and arson as part of newly launched education project

Community Safety Officer Jo Gouldson with children at Our Lady's school in Wellingborough

Hundreds of schoolchildren in Wellingborough will be taught about subjects ranging from fire safety to gang culture as part of a new education programme.

Pupils at six primary schools in Wellingborough have signed up to the programme which will see youngsters receive sessions touching on issues to do with community awareness, personal responsibility and being a good citizen.

The Good Citizen programme is being launched this month by the joint Arson Task Force (Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service and Northamptonshire Police) and is supported by partners including the Wellingborough Safer Stronger Neighbourhood Partnership and the North Northamptonshire Community Safety Partnership.

The programme includes Northamptonshire Police’s Blue Butterfly project, which teaches children to speak to trusted adults when they have experienced situations such as domestic abuse.

It will also include sessions on arson prevention, fire and road safety and the teaching of lifesaving skills such as CPR.

Shaun Johnson, of the Arson Task Force, who is leading the organisation of this programme of work, said: “There are wide-ranging reasons why we are choosing to run this project in Wellingborough, but ultimately we hope our work with young people will help to boost awareness of subjects such as gangs and knife crime, as well as how to recognise the signs of criminal grooming and the consequences this can bring.

“The subjects we are dealing with will cover so many aspects which are important to young people keeping safe in today’s world, including practical details about staying safe on the roads and how to recognise when a situation of abuse is happening and how to know who to talk to about that.”

There will also be support from The Solomon Theatre company, who will be performing the drama ‘Safe’ in primary schools, which raises awareness of bullying and knife crime.

In addition, three secondary schools in Wellingborough will this month also receive performances of a drama called Skin Deep, by the same theatre company, which deals with racism, gangs and criminal grooming.

Work will also be carried out to raise awareness of Fearless.org , through which young people can learn more about recognising criminal activity and reporting crime information 100 per cent  anonymously online. Fearless.org is the youth service of Crimestoppers charity.

The Good Citizen programme has been made possible thanks to funding and sponsorship from the Percy Hoskins Award (established in memory of the late Daily Express crime reporter), Crimestoppers in Northamptonshire and the Borough Council of Wellingborough.

Mr Johnson said: “We would like to say thank you to all our sponsors for their generous funding in enabling us to do this work. This project will cover such vital issues for young people in Wellingborough and we hope it will have really positive results in enabling schoolchildren to protect themselves and to consider the community around them.”

Miss Elise Gribble, Deputy Headteacher at Our Lady’s Catholic Primary School in Wellingborough – one of the schools taking part – said: “As a school, we are passionate about preparing our children for any dangers or dilemmas they may face. Having attended a DSL (Designated Safeguarding Lead) forum, where the outcomes from the School Pupil Survey for 2019 were shared, I realised we needed help in order to successfully influence the children’s choices and coping strategies.

“The support from the Police and Fire Service has been overwhelming and we are incredibly grateful for the fun learning opportunities that are planned throughout the next few months.

“They are all focused on creating good citizens and developing the children’s awareness of the wider world. We would hope this funding is granted in following years to continue to support this area of need.”

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