Is it ‘Safe To Play’ in the New Year?

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council is urging parents, carers and guardians to ask ‘is it safe to play?’ before signing their children up to take part in sports and physical activity sessions.

Children playing hopscotch

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, but the unfortunate reality is, that across the country, some don’t always have this positive experience.

The New Year can present opportunities for those not associated to any sport governing body or active partnership, to exploit the ‘new year, new you, healthy start’ message and set up clubs, activities in parks and green spaces, which could initially appear on the surface, to be offered by legitimate sport and physical activity clubs and providers.

The only way you can be sure is to do the research yourself and not be afraid to ask the questions that so many don’t.

Cllr Carole Mulroney, cabinet member for environment, culture, tourism and planning, said: “Here in Southend-on-Sea we strive to make sure that every child has a positive experience when participating in sport, physical and extra-curricular activities.  Southend already benefits from a number of clubs and activity providers who have become ‘Safe To Play’ partners.

“These clubs have signed up to the ‘Safe To Play’ campaign and also completed awareness training, so that they can help keep those involved in sport and physical activity safe, as well as getting parents, participants, volunteers and coaches themselves, to talk more openly about safeguarding.

“I would urge all parents, carers and guardians to familiarise themselves with the ‘Safe To Play’ campaign and read the tips and advice that we offer when looking for a suitable club or activity provider for your child. Remember – a well-run club or provider will welcome questions about their activities and policies and will be proud to talk to you about safeguarding in their sport and in their club.”

Always check whether the club or organisation is accredited or otherwise associated to a body (e.g. a sports governing body or national voluntary sector) as this should mean they have the right safeguarding policies and procedures in place.

Even if they are accredited, there are some key things to look for to ensure they take children’s safety seriously. These can be found on our website.

Kev Murphy, NWG Network’s Safeguarding in Sport Lead, says “We want parents to be more aware of the need to check exactly who they are leaving their children with. 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.

“With funding from Sport England, NWG has created the ‘Safe To Play’ campaign to provide 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 calling up a range of engaging digital resources, including dramatized videos telling one family’s story of abuse in sport, 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 club or coach.”

More information, including a list of ‘Safe to Play’ approved clubs and other useful links, can be found on the Active Southend website.  

If you have concerns about a club, activity provider 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 www.nwgnetwork.org, or if you think a crime has been committed, then please contact your local police force on 101.

Published: 13th January 2022

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