Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and Police Scotland today (25 January 2016) pledged their support to the Safe, Strong and Free charity which aims to teach young children how to keep themselves safe from bullying, neglect or abuse.
Safe, Strong and Free was piloted in 1989 and is a primary abuse prevention program which aims to reduce the vulnerability of young children to abuse and assault.
It was initially only available in the Inverness area but has expanded to include every school in the Highlands and some of the islands.
Every nursery and pre-school child in Highland has access to their workshops, which focus on teaching children to keep themselves safe.
The Safe, Strong and Free team visited Inverness Fire Station today on what’s been dubbed 'Highland Hero Day' to highlight to children that members of the blue light services are there to support children and instil the idea that uniformed services are there to help and can be trusted, regardless of the influence of their parents or peers.
Pre-school children from the Andy Pandy Playgroup in Inverness and Croileagan Inbhir Pheofharain (Dingwall Nursery) entered into the spirit of ‘Highland Hero Day’ by arriving in the costumes of their favourite super heroes. The children were then shown around SFRS’s fire engines and they got to meet Police dog Brodie and his handler Neil MacDonald.
Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Group Manager Antony Gardner said: “One of our key priorities is safety within the home and that includes the wellbeing of children. We are committed to the Scottish Government’s Getting It Right for Every Child agenda and this falls very much in line with keeping children safe.
“Our commitment to safety in the home is not exclusive to fire safety, it also includes personal safety so we are delighted to be backing the important work carried out by the team at Safe, Strong and Free.
“It’s important that children understand that they can trust members of a uniformed service enough to approach them about a particular issue they have. Sometimes it may be the only opportunity they have to talk about what they are experiencing.”
Police Scotland’s Inspector Ewan Henderson said: “The national approach known as ‘Getting it right for every child’ (GIRFEC) seeks to support the wellbeing of children and young people through public services. Police Scotland is proud to support the initiative through partnership working days, especially at events such as this. The Safe, Strong and Free charity is a fantastic team and help to offer advice and guidance to children when they are at an age of increased vulnerability, and may not be able to comprehend the risk of abuse or its associated harm.
“Being able to attend days such as today helps to re-affirm a child’s opinion of uniformed services and that officers are there to provide support and keep them safe, no matter the circumstances. A child’s parents or peers may not see the police or other uniformed personnel in a positive light and the ‘Highland Hero Day’ provides a unique opportunity to see past these opinions and inspire values which may last right through to adulthood.
Chairperson of Safe, Strong and Free, Angela Ogilvie, said: "I am delighted with the fantastic support of the blue light services in promoting our 'Highland Hero Day' fundraising event.
“We are all working together to keep children safe and this event promotes opportunities for children throughout the Highlands to have lots of fun as they learn about staying Safe, Strong and Free with the help of our ‘heroes’ in the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and Police.
“A big thank you from everyone at Safe, Strong and Free."