​Empowering Highland children to be ‘safe, strong and free’

The work of a Highland charity that aims to reduce the vulnerability of young children to abuse and assault has been welcomed by Members of the Highland Council’s Education, Children and Adult Services Committee.

Funded by The Highland Council, NHS Highland and a number of trusts, foundations and the Lottery the registered charity “Safe, Strong and Free (Highland)” provides interactive puppet workshops which teach children about serious issues in a ‘fun’ way. Children attending the workshops are taught strategies to use which will help them stay safe if they encounter bullying, an approach from a stranger or an unwanted/inappropriate approach from an adult they know. They are also given short story books that reinforce the messages.

Safe Strong and Free believe that children’s vulnerability will be reduced by raising awareness of families and communities, in conjunction with providing children with resources of their own that they can use when they find themselves in a difficult situation.

Cllr Drew Millar, Chair of the Council’s Education, Children and Adult Services Committee said: “While Highland is one of the safest places to live in the UK we recognise that our children still need to learn basic life skills on how to deal with bullying, stranger-danger and unwanted or inappropriate adult attention.

“We commend the friendly and non-threatening way in which Safe, Strong and Free provides coping strategies for our young people so that they can hopefully have happy childhoods as they should have.”

Safe Strong and Free Project Co-ordinator Kerry Glen said: “We deliver pre-school workshops on ‘bullying, strangers and secrets’, to get across the message of 3 special words ‘safe strong and free’ to young children with follow up booklets.

“We have also included internet safety awareness in all of our workshops and aim to contact parents through online resources and social media campaigns. A parent-teaching pack and nursery-teaching pack is available on our website.

“Working with the Fire and Police services we ran a successful media campaign to promote the message that Fire and Police officers are trusted people that children can share their concerns.

“Moving on from our pre-school workshops we have developed and are piloting and anti-bullying workshop which we are aiming at youth groups across Highland. We are also liaising with Highland Council on delivering Safe, Strong and Free workshops to Syrian Refugee children who have settled in the Highlands.”

Kerry invited members to take part in Highland Hero Week which starts on 13 March.

For more information about Safe, Strong and Free visit their website at: http://safestrongandfree.org.uk/

-ends-

27 Jan 2017
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