#childsafety | Is it safe to play? Safeguarding your children over the summer holidays | News

WITH the school summer holidays now here, Southend Council’s sport and leisure team, in partnership with the NWG Exploitation Response Unit, is offering advice to parents and carers before they let their children attend any sports or physical activity clubs and sessions.

Although many summer activity clubs are closed due to COVID-19, this does present opportunities for those not affiliated to any sport governing body or active partnership, to exploit the situation and set up activities in parks and green spaces, which could initially appear to be legitimate holiday activities.

It is important to look for a club, sport, activity and coach that takes the safety and wellbeing of your child seriously. Always check whether the club or organisation is accredited or otherwise affiliated 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.

Coun Kevin Robinson said: “Encouraging children and young people to participate in sport or physical activity has countless benefits, ranging from improved physical and mental health to promoting friendships and building confidence.

“However, with exploitation and abuse in sport hitting the national headlines in recent years, the Council wants to help and support parents and carers in taking a more proactive role in researching the summer sporting childcare activities that they may be considering. We are committed to protecting children and young people from abuse and exploitation in all its forms.

“Remember, it’s never wrong to ask for more information when it comes to children’s safety, wellbeing and safeguarding. Organisations should welcome parents and carers asking questions about their policies and activities and should be happy and readily on hand to answer these questions.”

Kevin Murphy, NWG Network’s Safeguarding in Sport Lead, said: “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. 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.

“We want safeguarding to be embedded as the number one priority of all sports clubs, above performance and results. The children’s wellbeing needs to be at the forefront of everything they do.”

ActiveSouthend – the Borough’s sports partnership, which is linked to Active Essex – the county sports network, has compiled a list of summer holiday activities that are being run by reputable clubs in Southend. Please visit the Latest News section of the ActiveSouthend website activesouthend.com for more information.

If you have concerns about a summer holiday activity/club or coach, or have concerns about inappropriate behaviour by anyone involved in a sports club in Southend, then please contact Southend Council’s Sport and Leisure Team on 01702 212057. You can also contact NWG for advice on 01332 585 371, or visit nwgnetwork.org, or if you think a crime has been committed, then please contact the police force on 101.

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