Archive for ‘Schools and Colleges’

20 May, 2014

Aching bones can’t thwart charity Highland trek

For the past few months, Liz Lumsden has been sharing preparations for her West Highland Way walk in aid of a RoSPA child safety project. Here, she blogs about the tough 50-mile two-day trek itself.

Liz (far right), Donald (centre) and friends at the start of the walk.

Liz (far right), Donald (centre) and friends at the start of the walk.

Not many people will walk 25 miles in one day – and then get up the next morning and walk another 25! For me, that was the biggest challenge. I have done walks before of a similar length, but always had a day to recover before going back to work. To repeat the experience on a second day was not easy.

My son Donald and I had agreed to walk 50 miles of the West Highland Way to raise funds for the printing and distribution of The Birthday Party, a children’s book about safety. RoSPA wants every child starting school in Scotland this year to get a copy.

We began at 7am on day one with a climb out of Crainlarich before the terrain flattened out for a while during the seven miles over to Tyndrum. After a coffee we headed off over to Bridge of Orchy in time for lunch. We needed it – the next stage was a real climb and ended up on Rannoch Moor – 10 miles of desolation – before the long walk down the mountains to the only hotel for miles – the Kingshouse. We could see it from it about three miles away and kept thinking about the bath and the hot meal that were waiting for us.

I ached from head to toe by the time I crawled (almost literally) into bed that night. I didn’t feel much better the next morning, but there was no going back. It wasn’t a very appealing thought to get started as the rain had been pouring down most of the night and had only eased off a bit by 8am.

The group reach the all important half way point and stop for a spot of lunch!

The group reach the all important half way point and stop for a spot of lunch! Well deserved we say!

Waterproofs on, we were ready to complete the challenge. After a fairly flat start we had to climb the Devil’s Staircase. It’s tough, but thankfully doesn’t last for long and the following section is mostly flat or downhill into Kinlochleven. The sun even came out for a while.

We were able to enjoy lunch in the sun before popping into a cafe in Kinlochleven for coffee and white chocolate “rocky road” (my favourite!). The sugar rush kept us going on the long climb out of Kinlochleven and down through the most amazing valley before the final slog to Fort William.

Like the previous day, we could see where we wanted to be long before we reached it. The last section of the West Highland Way is on surfaces that are very unforgiving and our bones started to really ache with about five miles still to go.

We walked with friends who were fundraising for other charities and had a real sense of achievement when we crossed the finishing line. We all had friends and family to meet us and were receiving text messages during the last few hours encouraging us to “keep going”.

Donald and I love to walk, but this was certainly his biggest challenge to date and he completed it suffering from only one blister (I managed to avoid having any – thanks to the amazing properties of Vaseline!).

I managed to exceed my fundraising target, but we still need money for the project. Every £1 raised will mean three parents can share home safety messages while reading The Birthday Party to their children. You can still donate at www.justgiving.com/elizabeth-lumsden2 or by texting WWHW50 £2, WWHW50 £5 or WWHW50 £10 to 70070.

13 May, 2014

Safer Streets for everyone – join the movement, make a difference!

Here at RoSPA, we want to see safer streets that encourage walking and cycling not only because it helps to prevent injuries, but also because it has a positive effect on a range of health-related issues, including heart disease, mental health and air pollution.

PrintMaking these links between safer roads and wider health issues are crucial. They can have a big impact on families too. Imagine being able to make the journey to school by bike, scooter or on foot without fear of being knocked down by speeding traffic. How would your children feel? Energised, happy, healthy…the list is endless.

Helping to make this vision a reality is Sustrans – which aims to help people choose healthier, cleaner and cheaper journeys and enjoy better, safer spaces to live in. This week, Sustrans is launching a new campaign for Safer Streets and needs your support. The campaign is calling for:

  • 20mph default speed limits across built up areas – this will make everyone’s route safer
  • Dedicated funding for active travel – this will provide the resources needed to transform routes and invest in walking and cycling locally
  • Stronger duties and incentives on local authorities to develop routes and promote cycling and walking.

On the Sustrans website, you can find out more about getting support for making your street safer by creating a “DIY Street” – a tool to enable communities to take vital first steps to restore their streets for people and not cars.

Earlier this year, we unveiled new guidance for road safety and public health professionals to help boost the nation’s health. The report reveals that the greatest impact can be achieved when public health and road safety teams tackle shared agendas, such as working together to reduce the speed and volume of motor traffic or introducing road layouts that encourage safe walking and cycling.Sustrans_Safetoschool

And let us not underestimate the benefits of introducing 20mph speed limits in built up areas; lower speeds make crashes less likely and less severe when they do happen and are effective at protecting people, especially children, pedestrians and cyclists from being killed or injured. They also encourage more people to walk and cycle by providing a more pleasant and safer environment.

Councils are responsible for determining where 20mph limits should be introduced and they should take advantage of opportunities to implement them where they are needed. And this is where you come in! As part of the process, councils consult and engage with local communities and other stakeholders to make sure that safer roads are prioritised where needed and that residents have input into the schemes’ development. What are you waiting for? Get involved!

Duncan Vernon, RoSPA’s road safety manager

1 May, 2014

Farewell to Mrs Tufty

The school children of Torfaen County Borough Council have said an emotional farewell to Mrs Tufty.

Cake!Viv Carr, who delivers road safety education with the able assistance of Tufty and his friends, said goodbye to the schools she has visited in her role as under sevens organiser, or more commonly, Mrs Tufty, as she retired after 27 years.

Zach Evans, year six pupil at Croesyceiliog Primary School, summed up the feeling of the whole school in a beautifully hand written letter: “Your lessons were entertaining and light hearted…and your puppet friends…will stick in the mind for many generations. Your messages well worded and your activities original and fun.”

One of the hazards of being Mrs Tufty was being recognised in many places – in the supermarket, at the swimming pool and even on a Spanish beach! Viv also reckons there were times when she had more conversations in a day with Tufty than she had with her husband.

Colleagues past and present say goodbye to Mrs Tufty

Colleagues past and present say goodbye to Mrs Tufty (centre, wearing a burnt orange scarf)

Viv’s car was broken into some years ago, and the thieves stole all of her puppets.  Could it have had something to do with Willy Weasel’s naughty friends? It made headlines in the South Wales Argus, and despite pleas for them to be returned they remain lost to this day.

Colleagues past and present gathered at Llanyrafon Manor in Cwmbran to wish Viv well in her retirement.  Penny Thorpe, former principal road safety officer for Gwent, presented Viv with a memento from Road Safety Wales marking the contribution she has made to road safety during her career.

Want to find out more about RoSPA’s retired road safety squirrel? Visit www.rospa.com/about/history/tufty.aspx

Ann Horton, RoSPA Wales’ road safety officer

28 February, 2014

Fundraising trek is a family affair

Kenneth Hamilton tells us why he’s fundraising for RoSPA.

I have always known about RoSPA for as long as I can remember: my mum Liz has worked at the Edinburgh office for nearly 20 years. When I heard that she was walking the West Highland Way to raise money for the charity I was really happy to help.

Kenneth with his trusty Nordic poles!

Kenneth with his trusty Nordic walking poles!

I have wanted to walk the West Highland Way for a while but have never committed to it before. This will be a good opportunity for me to carry out the walk and help raise money for a RoSPA and Go Safe Scotland project.

My mother and brother covered the West Highland Way in seven days. We will be walking half of this journey in two days, so the pressure is on to get fit and fast!

I work out regularly in the gym and I have just taken on a challenge to do 10,000 kettlebell swings in four weeks. This will give me a physical (and mental) challenge to work through and complete, and will help with my strength before the walk.

So far my mum and I have practiced every second Sunday and will continue to do so until the day of the walk in April. On the first practice run we walked from Linlithgow, along the canal, to Falkirk train station. My fitness was fine but I did get a pain in my knee and just made it to the train back home!

The second training Sunday was a few miles longer. We walked the first part of the West Highland Way and we will continue to walk each subsequent part so that I will have actually completed the full journey.

Kenneth makes a quick pit stop while in training for the West Highland Way.

Kenneth makes a quick pit stop while in training for the West Highland Way.

I tried out Nordic walking poles and was very surprised how much they helped with speed and release of pressure on the joints, I will definitely continue to use them and would recommend them to anyone.

Although the first part wasn’t very difficult I know that it will get harder and the extra miles each day will be quite difficult. So I will continue to work out at the gym and we will both continue walking every second weekend.

I’m raising money for a RoSPA/Go Safe Scotland project my mum is working on. It’s a book which will be available initially to all children starting school this summer in Scotland. The Birthday Party has been written by award-winning children’s author Linda Strachan. It is part of an initiative to provide safety education for primary school children.

If you would like to sponsor me please visit, www.justgiving.com/Kenneth-Hamilton and “gieze awe your money”.

3 February, 2014

The West Highland Way to fundraising

The training plan has been drawn up and we’re off! My oldest son, Kenneth, has decided he will accompany me on a 50-mile walk to raise funds for RoSPA.

LizWalkWe will walk the second half of the West Highland Way in April. We’ll cover 25 miles each day, from Crianlarich to Fort William. The entire 96 miles of the West Highland Way winds through some spectacular scenery, but this final section involves some tough wee hills such as the appropriately-named “Devil’s Staircase”.

I have walked the entire Way twice before in the most amazing weather. Some days have been really warm but others resulted in me having to pour the water out of my boots at the end of the day – and put them back on soaking wet the following day!

I hope we will be lucky with the weather. At least we won’t have any midges to contend with – too early in the year. It’s going to be a real challenge, however, to cover this section in two days as I’ve only previously managed to complete it in three and a half.

All money raised will go towards the printing and distribution of a fantastic new resource which will be available initially to all children starting school this summer in Scotland.

The Birthday Party has been written by award-winning children’s author, Linda Strachan, and follows a group of children as they prepare (safely) for a birthday party at home.

It will see the beginning of a family that will become familiar to children in Scotland when a further series of eBooks are developed as part of the Go Safe Scotland initiative to provide safety education for primary school children.

Loch Lomond - one of the many breathtaking views which Elizabeth and her son will encounter on the way.

Loch Lomond – one of the many breathtaking views which Elizabeth and her son will encounter along the way.

It is important to set the scene as early as possible, so children start to think about safety and become responsible for their own actions in a manner that does not stop them enjoying a wide range of everyday activities.

So, back to the training plan: Kenneth and I have begun with a nine-mile walk along the canal and will work up to a full 25 miles from Linlithgow to Edinburgh leading up to the challenge on 25 April. As Kenneth has never had the opportunity to complete the West Highland Way before, we are going walk the first sections of it as part of our training programme too.

If you would like to donate, visit my JustGiving page or text WWHW50 £2, WWHW50 £5 or WWHW50 £10 to 70070.

Elizabeth Lumsden, RoSPA Scotland and Northern Ireland community safety manager

27 January, 2014

A Walk on the Safeside

I was a child in the 1970s, when, as the cliché goes, we had to make our own entertainment.

A young Helen Halls.

A young Helen Halls.

Growing up in a small Yorkshire town, I played outside, walked to school and was off on my bike for hours. Mobile phones hadn’t been invented, so my parents couldn’t call to summon me home.

Being out and about from an early age, I learnt about risks and keeping safe largely through experience, though I was in the Tufty Club and did my RoSPA cycling proficiency test.

Helen now as RoSPA's campaigns officer.

Helen now as RoSPA’s campaigns officer.

Today, many children are ferried to and from school/activities and spend free time online or on a games console, so they don’t get the opportunities to experience risk that we old goats had. 

Plus, the rise of the internet has led to new dangers online.

Which is why LASER (Learning About Safety by Experiencing Risk) centres are a great idea, giving children the opportunity to experience risk and learn how to stay safe in an interesting, interactive way.

As RoSPA hosts the LASER Alliance, I was lucky enough to get a tour of Safeside, Birmingham’s LASER centre.

The Safeside 'village'.

The Safeside ‘village’.

Run by West Midlands Fire Service, it boasts a full-size indoor street scene featuring a road crossing, bus, train, canal, car, home, pub, dark alleyway, police station – and more.

Children learn about many aspects of safety via scenarios, activities, videos and discussion. They work with presenters, guides and even students from the Birmingham School of Acting.

Safeside presenter Dave Bailey.

Safeside presenter Dave Bailey.

It’s a practical, at times shocking, but fun way for children to get to grips with real life issues and consider what they should do in those situations.

And it works: presenter Dave Bailey tells us of children he first met at primary school who come back to the centre in their teens.

They often tell him about situations where they’ve used what they learned at Safeside – it really has saved lives.

If you’re a parent group, nursery, SureStart or school, I’d really recommend organising a visit to Safeside.

To find out more about Safeside and its activities , click here.

Helen Halls, RoSPA campaigns officer.

20 September, 2013

Accident prevention: we’re in it together

Through the centuries, Glasgow has been a hotbed of both enlightenment thinking and industrial activity. So where better to stage RoSPA’s 57th Occupational Health and Safety Awards?

Michael talks to a 2013 Award winner all about the accident prevention work which RoSPA undertakes in order to fulfill its mission: to save lives and reduce injuries.

Michael talks to a 2013 Award winner all about the accident prevention work which RoSPA undertakes in order to fulfill its mission: to save lives and reduce injuries.

The coming together of hundreds of the world’s best workplace safety practitioners at the city’s Hilton Hotel, yesterday (September 19), allowed RoSPA to reward much dedication and innovation – and to showcase some of the life-saving schemes that the UK’s best-known safety charity run on a regular basis.

As is now customary, RoSPA uses such get-togethers to rally support from those who are most likely to give it.

The same event last year raised enough money to help run two campaigns to stop more young children dying in window blind cord and driveway-related accidents.

This year, guests very generously donated almost £4,400. This money will go some way to ensuring that every child starting primary school in Scotland next year will receive a free book. The publication, penned by popular children’s author Linda Strachan, will help to keep tens of thousands of young ones safe from the hazards that pose the most risk to them.

But it’s a project that still needs the support of others to make it happen.

With your help, we can (and we will) make it happen. Such is the power of prevention – through the coming together of all those who are on the same mission: to save lives and reduce injuries.

Simply email FUNDRAISING@RoSPA.COM to find out more.

Michael Corley, RoSPA’s head of campaigns and fundraising

17 September, 2013

The Birthday Party

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….

Don't Judge ME 2

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.

Blind cord safety is one of the RoSPA campaigns that aims to save young lives.

Blind cord safety is one of the RoSPA campaigns that aims to save young lives.

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.GoSafeScotland_logo

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.

Go Safe Scotland was launched this year.

Go Safe Scotland was launched this year.

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 elumsden@rospa.com or call on 0131 449 9379.

Elizabeth Lumsden, RoSPA Scotland community safety manager.

23 August, 2013

Marathon man Michael is making big strides for safety

I remember the exact moment, nestled in an easy chair, dipping a custard cream into a cuppa, dreaming up ways of raising cash to tackle the UK’s biggest killer of young children…

RoSPA fundraising

Michael Corley, RoSPA’s head of campaigns and fundraising, prepares for his marathon challenge!

“I know, I’ll run a half-marathon”, I exclaimed, wiping the crumbs from my mouth. “After all, it’s only 13 and a bit miles, isn’t it?”

That was several months ago. Since then the tea and the biscuits have gone*, replaced by bottled water and fruit, the dreaming replaced with the waking realisation that 13 and a bit miles is a lot further than I’d thought**.

American author Mark Twain said the secret of getting ahead is getting started. Mercifully, the organisers of the BUPA Great Birmingham Run had made that bit simple for a flaky first-timer like me by providing a training schedule.

Printing it off and tacking it to the wall was the easy bit. Getting up at 7am on a Sunday and going out after a gruelling day at work is the not-so-easy bit.

With the main event on October 20, several more weeks of this self-inflicted punishment await me. But then when I’m wheezing through bronchial tubes and feeling twinges in my gammy knee something suddenly occurs to me: I’m doing this for a damn good reason.

If you haven’t already guessed (given the nature of this blog), the UK’s biggest killer of young children is…accidents.

Here’s another chilling thought. About 18,000 people will line up alongside me in the autumn. About the same number of people will be wiped out by an accident between the end of this year’s race and the start of next. And almost all of those deaths will be preventable…

I’m running to raise money for RoSPA – the UK’s biggest and best-known accident prevention charity. We conduct campaigns to protect people at every stage of their life. Our work is proven to be low cost and high impact and is welcomed by all those who benefit from it. You can find out more about our life-saving work by visiting our website.

To help, you can sponsor me – or join me. At the time of writing, places were still available for the Great Birmingham Run – and RoSPA would love to see other people pounding the streets on its behalf.

To support our charitable mission in other ways, please visit our fundraising webpage or email FUNDRAISING@RoSPA.COM. We’d love to hear from you.

Now, if you’ll forgive me, I have no time to lose – I must get back to my training *dips another biscuit into a big mug of coffee*.

Michael Corley, RoSPA’s head of campaigns and fundraising

*This is not strictly true. NB Some dramatic licence has been used in the making of this blog.

**This bit is true.

22 July, 2013

Girlguiding – learning skills for life

My name is Rebekah Pior. I am 14 years old and I live in Birmingham. I joined Weoley Castle Girlguiding when I was 11 years old and throughout my time being there, it has taught me valuable and important skills to keep me safe and make me realise how many risks were actually in your every day normal life.

Girl Guides RoSPA

“Girl Guides helped teach me all about health and safety” – Rebekah Pior

Many of the girls at Guides didn’t have much self motivation, so as something to work towards, the Guide leaders provided a prize at the end of every task, however every task we completed didn’t just gain us a prize and a badge at the end of it, it gave us knowledge and allowed us to take responsibility for our own actions.

Our course was called “Learning for Life” and it included a series of first aid sessions and how to handle water safety and road safety. At the end of the term, when we had completed all of the set tasks, we had to do a presentation to prove that we had learnt and understood everything which our parents were invited to come and sit in on.Girl Guides RoSPA

I’m really glad that I joined Girl Guides when I did, because not long after we had learnt about all of this health and safety, a horrible event occurred including a friend being knocked over by a car. Having learnt about road safety at Guides I knew exactly how to act and how to feel when it was all happening, whereas the rest of my friends just panicked. I took control of the situation and managed to make sure my friend was taken to hospital. The facts and figures I learned at Guides about this convinced me to be careful, however being in that situation made me realise how serious and dangerous the road can be.

Girl Guides RoSPAIn my opinion, more should be done to help protect young people and keep them safe. Schools should take more of a role to try and help students, and Girlguiding units should advertise themselves more so more people know where they are and what they do etc. Sitting teenagers down and talking to them for an hour straight on how to keep safe, what they should do, why they should do it and showing them a couple of statistics isn’t going to make half of them listen, but getting them more involved and making the activities fun will advise more people to listen and get involved.

Rebekah Pior, work experience placement student at RoSPA

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