Local sports coaches, clubs and physical activity providers across Southend have this week received new augmented reality cards and awareness training as part of an innovative safeguarding campaign to help keep those involved in sport safe.
Southend Safeguarding Partnership (Children’s) and ActiveSouthend (the Borough’s Sports Partnership) have teamed up with National Child Safeguarding Charity, NWG, to deliver it’s ‘Safe To Play’ Campaign. With funding from Sport England, NWG has created the unique campaign to get parents, clubs and coaches themselves, to talk more openly about safeguarding.
The ‘Safe To Play’ campaign provides local sport and physical activity clubs and coaches with FREE pocket-sized cards to distribute to their members, players, parents and guardians. These cards, when scanned using a camera of a smartphone or tablet, will act as pocket reminders by providing a range of engaging digital resources, including dramatized videos featuring a sports coach, a father of a child who has been abused and the child himself, talking about their experiences, prompting the viewer to ask the right questions and learn from their experiences. The digital resources also include video guides on how to identify the signs of abuse, top tips on how to stay safe in sport, and questions to ask when selecting a coach and/or club for your child or family member.
Cllr Carole Mulroney, cabinet member for Environment, Culture, Tourism and Planning says: “We are extremely proud here in Southend-on-Sea to have been chosen by the NWG as one of their pilot areas to launch the ‘Safe To Play’ Campaign. It is important to remember that abuse can occur anywhere. With exploitation and abuse in sport hitting the national headlines in recent years, the Council wants to do all it can to help and support parents, clubs and coaches to take a more proactive role in protecting our children and young people and talk more openly about safeguarding. It is paramount that all parents, coaches and players are aware of the signs of abuse and importantly, how to report concerns.”
Cllr Laurie Burton, Cabinet Member for Children and Learning, added: “We want to thank all of the clubs and coaches who have taken part in the awareness sessions this week and have helped to launch ‘Safe To Play’ in Southend. We know there are many clubs out there doing great work around safeguarding, and we want to see more of that. This is about encouraging a dialogue between clubs and parents. Every child and young person has a right to have fun and enjoy taking part in activities without the risk of being harmed or abused.”
Kevin Murphy, NWG Network’s Safeguarding in Sport Lead, says: “Southend is doing fantastic work on educating parents, carers, schools and local communities on the signs of exploitation, with its ‘See The Signs’ campaign, so selecting Southend as one of our pilot areas to launch the ‘Safe To Play’ campaign fits extremely well with efforts to reduce abuse and exploitation in all its forms.
“Our message for parents and carers is to treat these clubs in the same way you would when researching your child’s school. You do all the research before you decide which school to send your child to and that’s what we want parents to do with these clubs. Remember, it's never wrong to ask for more information when it comes to children’s safety, wellbeing and safeguarding.
“Clubs, coaches and physical activity providers should welcome parents and carers asking questions about their policies and activities and should be happy and readily on hand to answer these questions. Everyone has a role to play in keeping others safe and people should know how to spot the signs of child sexual exploitation and what to do if they have any concerns. Safeguarding must remain a priority for all those who run, book, manage and oversee sports and extra-curricular clubs and activities.”
With the school summer holidays only a week away, the council’s sport and leisure team, in partnership with NWG, is also offering safeguarding advice again to parents and carers before they let their children attend any sports or physical activity clubs and sessions over the holidays.
This information as well as further information about the ‘Safe To Play’ campaign can be found on the ActiveSouthend website. You can also request free ‘Safe To Play’ cards/resources and attend future ‘Safe To Play’ awareness sessions.
If you have concerns about a club or coach or have concerns about inappropriate behaviour by anyone involved in a sports club in Southend, then please contact Southend-on-Sea Borough Council’s Sport and Leisure Team on 01702 212057. You can also contact NWG for advice on 01332 585 371 or visit the NWG website. If you think a crime has been committed, please contact your local police force on 101.