YEPS Safeguarding Week 2016

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Safeguarding Week 2016 was an extremely busy week for Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Youth Engagement & Participation Service as staff delivered a variety of informative and engaging sessions to young people all over the county. Highlighted below are some examples of some of the activities:

Ponty High School’s extended provision saw 21 young people participate in mental health and anti-bullying sessions. The sessions included games such as ‘Who am I?’ – where the young people had to guess the celebrity based on their mental health difficulty. Who knew David Beckham suffered with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)? This also gave the young people a chance to share with each other some difficulties they have been/are facing. All young people were happy to engage and there were some great discussions about how best to tackle these issues.

Ysgol Gyfun Y Cymer ran a session on cyber bullying and sexual health with a group of 10 girls during their extended provision. The session covered the dangers of social media misuse and gave the girls an awareness of how important it is to protect yourself online.

Ysgol Gyfun Y Cymer and St John The Baptist R.C Comprehensive School delivered sessions on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Stereotyping (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans* issues to 20 young people. Here’s Martyn David’s, YEPS Entitlements Officer, take on the sessions:

There were three different groups involved across the two Extended Provisions. The first group didn’t really engage with the activities; e.g didn’t want to write answers down but preferred to shout them out, wanted to skip certain activities etc, but they did ask questions and attempted to take part in all of the activities.

The second group were very engaged and asked dozens of questions – although they didn’t take part in any formal activity – they took copies of the hand-outs and we had a group discussion that involved everyone, male and female. There were questions about hormones, coming out, sexuality, gender, transitioning and more.

The third group were extremely enthusiastic and positive, as well as diligent, completing every task including the extra/optional ones. One girl said: “I learnt more in an hour than I learnt all day in school!” The girls did however already have an interest in the subject area and answered their own questions much of the time. I attempted to start a conversation with another group who told me that their friend was: “homophobic” and she didn’t think being gay was: “natural”, we had a limited discussion but the group dispersed gradually and went on to take part in different activities around the club/went to speak with other friends. Many of the young people did find the hand-outs useful and approached me later on to ask follow-up questions.

Further work around LGBT+ issues is ongoing, including PSE sessions focusing on LGBT issues. The week following Safeguarding Week, four sessions were delivered to Year 7 pupils in Ysgol Llanhari. It was an extremely positive day where a lot of questions were answered with pupils and staff getting to grips with terminology and laws and rights. One boy said: “This was the best lesson I’ve had all day, maybe ever!”

There were two days of sessions during Rhondda’s extended provisions at Cymer Youth Club. On the Monday, two members of YEPS staff delivered sessions focusing on alcohol awareness, mental and sexual health, and bullying with 9 girls.

On the Tuesday the sessions focused on behaviour, bullying, relationships and mental health and were delivered to 7 girls. All the young people participated and engaged fully in the activities and there were some great group discussions during the sessions. They also all mentioned how useful and informative they found the activities.

There were a number of anti-bullying sessions held at St John Baptist Church in Wales High School’s extended provision. The young people; watched and discussed the safeguarding DVD, participated in a brainstorming session on the positive and negative effects of bullying on the white board, and then a sample of them completed the safeguarding information sheet.

The YP seemed to be well informed as to what to do if a bullying incident occurred and who and where to go to report and obtain advice and guidance. It was also very shocking to hear that the majority of the YP had been bullied at least once, at primary school, secondary school or online.

Tonyrefail School’s year 7, 8 and 9 pupils each participated in a CEOP (Child Exploitation Online Protection) ‘Think U Know’ session during school time. There was also a cyber bullying session delivered during the school’s extended provision in which eight young people participated. All pupils and young people were happy to engage and thoroughly enjoyed their respective sessions. They all stated that they had a better understanding of online protection and the importance of staying safe online following the sessions.

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