What’s a birthday party got to do with the remit at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), I hear you ask? Well, let me tell you a story….
Last year, I attended the launch of the Don’t Give Fire a Home initiative, and it was while catching up with fire safety colleagues that I discovered they had been working with the award-winning author Linda Strachan on a novel, Don’t Judge Me.
It involves teenagers and keeps you guessing whether one of them could be an arsonist.
I had gone to this event not long after last year’s RoSPA Scotland Occupational Health and Safety Awards dinner, when guests had donated to help the charity further its projects.
My role includes honouring last year’s pledge to use this money to help prevent further accidents happening to children, particularly for two types of tragedy - children dying after becoming entangled in a blind cord, and youngsters being knocked over and killed on the driveway.
During the awards night, it was the grieving fathers of children affected by these types of accidents who spoke so emotionally that prompted dinner guests to dig deep to help us with our mission.
Since then, I have been involved in the Go Safe Scotland project to launch an educational resource that will initially reach Glasgow children, and eventually all primary schoolchildren across Scotland.
It involves a partnership of organisations coming together to reach children in a unique way with consistent safety messages.
After all, safety and risk education is key to enabling children and young people to interact with their environment, to develop the vital skills they need, and to understand the growing responsibility they share with adults for keeping themselves (and others) safe.
As far as home safety was concerned, I was looking for something to put into Go Safe Scotland that would contain age appropriate safety messages that could be delivered in a manner that wouldn’t restrict children enjoying a wide range of everyday activities, wouldn’t frighten them, and, most importantly, wouldn’t bore them either. After all, safety and risk education is key to enabling children and young people to interact with their environment.
I decided to find out more about Linda Strachan and realised she didn’t just write for teenagers, but also wrote the very popular Hamish McHaggis children’s books. Who better to write a series of short stories that could be shared as ebooks in the Go Safe Scotland resource?
A few coffees and cakes later with Linda and I was confident she was the lady for the job!
A few months on and three short stories have been completed for three different levels of primary schoolchildren – The Birthday Party, The Surprise, and The Granny Game. Work also continues with colleagues at Glasgow City Council to have the final electronic versions produced into the educational resource.
However, I could see in my mind’s eye, parents sitting down with their children and them reading the stories together as sometimes only a “real” book will do the job. So, I wanted to see if I could find the funding to have them printed. Wouldn’t it be fantastic to have a copy of these books in the home of every child starting school? But I can’t do this without having money to print enough copies required to reach all those starting school in a year.
A total of £32,000 is needed to enable this to happen for the first book and at this year’s RoSPA Scotland Occupational Safety Awards on September 19, RoSPA’s chief executive Tom Mullarkey will put this appeal to the guests. I’m crossing my fingers that a good proportion of the funding required will be raised to start us on our way.
The Birthday Party is the first story for the early years, when readers will be introduced to children that will grow up with them in the next stories throughout their primary school years: Jamie, Sophie, the twins – Isla and Lewis – and baby Max. They all help to make a birthday cake, tidy up and get ready for the best party ever – while making sure no accidents are going to happen.
Would you like to be part of my story – and this fantastic initiative – by donating to this project? If so, please contact me on email@example.com or call on 0131 449 9379.
Elizabeth Lumsden, RoSPA Scotland community safety manager.