‘Safe after School’: Rochdale Council launches new campaign to support parents

‘Safe after School’: Council launches new campaign to support parents

An innovative campaign is launched in time for summer holidays to provide parents with guidance and advice on out of school activities.

Clubs, classes and tutorial sessions offer great ways for children and young people to develop their skills and confidence as well as having fun, but it comes as quite a shock to many parents that a club, group or activity that they send their child too may actually not be regulated. Even people who have committed criminal offences can legally continue to work roles like children’s entertainer or private tutor.

There have been many instances, nationally as well as locally, about inappropriate behaviour and abuse perpetrated by adults in a position of trust at an after school activity. 

We have launched the ‘Safe After School’ campaign to help parents and carers make sure that their kids will be happy and protected in after school and extra-curricular activities.

Councillor Kieran Heakin, cabinet member for children’s services, said: “This is really important information for all parents. I would encourage parents to ask the right questions of providers they send their children to after school and in the school holidays. This campaign will really make people think and ultimately help keep children safe.”

Some key questions parents should ask providers are:

• Can I stay to observe the sessions?

• Can I read your policy on safeguarding children?

• Can I read your health and safety policy?

• What emergency procedures do you have in place?

• Can I have a copy of your code of conduct for staff, volunteers and for children?

• Are all staff trained in safeguarding and first aid?

• Who do I speak to if I have any concerns?

• Do you have a child safeguarding page on your website, or a leaflet or information sheet that I can read?

Gail Hopper, director of children’s services, said: “We have seen, through the recent cases of Abdul Rauf, Peter Feeley and others across Greater Manchester, the importance of having a campaign like this. This is an issue for all parents and we want to make sure that, where regulation isn’t required, we’re helping parents feel confident in where they send their child.

“We believe we are the first council to develop a campaign on this topic and we are pleased with what we have developed and the positive impact it will have. We hope to work with national providers to encourage that this campaign is rolled out nationally and we will be working hard to achieve that.”

The campaign is also important for providers of activities; they should have the relevant safeguarding procedures in place (as many good providers already have), and be able to answer these questions, to help protect children, themselves and their business.

High quality clubs and organisations will always welcome questions about their activities, the safety of their environment and the care of children.

 Ash Greenhalgh, from local children’s activity provider EdStart, is backing the campaign and said: “This is a fantastic campaign; we welcome parents asking us questions on our safeguarding procedures. It should be no trouble for a provider to answer the questions and give parents reassurance.”

We have delivered training to a variety of providers, as well as information sessions to parents on the key questions they should ask. We also, working with schools, provided parents with an information leaflet on the campaign as well as a card with key questions and contact details.

For more information on the ‘Safe After School’ campaign please visit rbscb.org

 If you have a concern about a provider then please report it to lado@rochdale.gov.uk, or if a child is in immediate danger phone 999