St Werburgh's Park Nursery School & Children's Centre

October 2012

Charlie Mee is Lead for Family Support and Community Services at St Werburgh's Park Nursery School and Children's Centre in Bristol. Here he tells us why St Werburgh’s organises six ‘child safety and health weeks’ a year and how they make each one a success.

Child safety and health weeks for young children

Child playing with fire engine at St Werburgh's

St Werburgh’s runs six child safety and health weeks each year, one every half-term, to raise awareness of important safety and wellbeing messages among children, parents and carers. The idea was inspired by St Werburgh’s involvement in the Bristol early years public health group, which co-ordinates the public health work of children’s centres in the area.

Charlie explains: “My predecessor in this role had been attending the early years public health meetings and found he was getting lots of great information about safety and health priorities for under fives, in particular from the Avonsafe partnership and the Lifeskills safety education team. He wanted to find a way to use this information in a focused way.

“St Werburgh’s was already involved in the annual Child Safety Week and decided to build on this by running half-termly awareness weeks too. Since joining the St Werburgh’s team, I’ve taken over responsibility for running these weeks. It’s been easy to continue the simple, successful and easily replicable format, and the safety and health weeks have become an integral part of the nursery and children’s centre calendar.”

The approach

Finding ideas and resources

The early years public health group continues to be a good source of practical support for St Werburgh’s awareness weeks. “It’s a ready-made network for us to get ideas for topics and we often find that campaign resources are put straight into our hands! People are always willing to suggest websites we can look at for free resources and that saves us a lot of time searching around.”

Designing activities

For each awareness week, Charlie and his colleagues create a simple display in St Werburgh’s main community room, which is used by parents and carers attending the nursery and children’s centre. The display features eye-catching posters with simple messages and usually includes some leaflets or other resources that people can take away. The teachers and early years practitioners in the nursery school use the resources and key messages as a starting point to plan classroom activities, and staff also hand out resources in group sessions taking place in the children’s centre.

Like other children’s centres in the area, St Werburgh’s has been supported by Avonsafe partners to offer low-cost safety equipment to parents and carers. “When we focused on preventing poisoning, we teamed up with the Lifeskills home safety equipment scheme to make it easy for parents to pick up a few cupboard locks for their bathrooms and kitchens,” comments Charlie. “And being able to sell hair straightener pouches at a subsidised price – as part of Avonsafe’s hair straightener safety campaign – helped us to engage parents on a safety issue they were really interested in.”

Outcomes

Fire safety week

Children playing during fire safety week at St Werburgh'sOne example of a child safety and health week at St Werburgh’s is the fire safety week that took place in November 2012. The aim of the week was to raise awareness of fire safety issues among the children attending the nursery and children’s centre, and to generate referrals for a free home fire safety check from the local fire service.

“Through the early years public health group, I found out about the ‘ELFS’ – Early Learning for Fire Safety – play resource that Avon Fire & Rescue Service have developed for young children. The kit is being shared around local children’s centres and we were one of the first to have use of it,” says Charlie.

“The resource is a large box designed to look like a fire engine, containing things like toy fire engines and a 3D jigsaw puzzle, plus outfits and helmets for dressing-up. It was very popular with the children – they liked getting inside the box for pretend play. It created lots of opportunities for teachers and early years practitioners to talk about things like what to do when there’s a fire, or if you find matches or lighters.”

For parents and carers, staff at St Werburgh’s distributed copies of a Fire Kills campaign booklet and a form to request a free home fire safety visit. Staff also scheduled one of their regular fire drills to take place during the week.

Future plans

Topics that Charlie plans to cover in future awareness weeks include road safety, with a particular focus on the use of car seats and the dangers of double-parking at school drop-off times. He’ll also be putting a spotlight on blind cord safety during an upcoming general home safety week. “The blind cord safety idea came from Bristol’s injury prevention manager Rob Benington, who has obtained some blind cord cleats from RoSPA for us to give away,” explains Charlie.

Other ideas will come from analysing local data on hospital admissions. “We’ll always want to cover the big safety issues for young children, but I also want to make sure our awareness weeks tackle issues that are important locally. Digging deeper into hospital admissions figures will help us to identify topics that will deliver the greatest benefit for our local community.”

What we can learn

  • Networking with local stakeholders involved in child safety will help you to find out about local campaigns that you can link with and resources you can use.
  • Organising a child safety and health week doesn’t necessarily need a lot of time or resources. As well as campaign resources produced by local organisations, there are lots of free resources available online on places like Directgov as well as on the CAPT and Child Safety Week websites. For a very simple fire awareness week, for example, you could create a display with posters and leaflets for parents and carers, organise a fire drill, and provide some dressing up outfits for the children.
  • It’s a good idea to think about how the theme can be brought to life in different ways for the parents/carers and children who use your setting. Offering something interesting for everyone helps to create a ‘buzz’ around the topic.
  • Creating temporary displays can be an effective way to capture people’s attention. People often stop noticing posters that are always on show, but will stop and look at new information. A display that’s up for one or two weeks is more likely to become a talking point.

Further information

For more information about the work discussed in this case study, please contact Charlie Mee on 0117 377 3129 or charlie.mee@bristol.gov.uk

You can also contact Rob Benington, Injury Prevention Manager at NHS Bristol, on 0117 900 2235 or rob.benington@bristol.gov.uk

Related links

Read our other case study from Ilminster Avenue Children's Centre in Bristol:

Updated August 2013