We have become the country’s first governing body of grassroots football to display Childline advertising boards at the edge of our pitch as part of our ongoing safeguarding work.
Fitted at either end of the ground, the two boards serve as a reminder to children and young people who play or watch matches at the stadium in Culver Road, that the free NSPCC service is a place they can turn to with any issues or worries they have both on and off the pitch.
Our ground also has other boards, installed a couple of years ago, which advertise the NSPCC helpline service that adults can call if they have concerns about a child’s welfare.
As part of our safeguarding policies and procedures, both services are highlighted as sources of help to our staff and volunteers.
Our support for the charity doesn’t end there, over the last 24 years we have hosted or taken part in events to help the NSPCC’s South and Mid Sussex Branch, and the charity’s Lancing District Committee, raise funds for the cause. In addition we provide the Branch with a meeting space, print the Annual Report, invites and letters for the Branch AGM and post them to volunteers and guests.
Sandra Redhead, Designated Safeguarding Manager for the Sussex County FA, said: “We take our safeguarding responsibilities very seriously and the County FA values the work of the NSPCC.
“Staff and volunteers undergo training on how to recognise potential situations and report any concerns about a child. Children are also told to speak to a trusted adult about anything troubling them but we were concerned they might not be aware of Childline being a source of help if they felt they couldn’t talk to someone face-to-face.
“Knowing thousands of children and young people visit the stadium every year but don’t necessarily use the rooms we hire out where Childline posters are displayed, we felt putting the advertising boards at each end of the 3G Artificial Turf Pitch was a good way of getting the message out to them.
“We hope other County FAs which have a pitch will now follow suit to help raise awareness of Childline to children and young people in their areas.”
Childline delivered almost 280,000 counselling sessions to children and young people in 2017/18 - it’s estimated that 3,400 of those children were living in West Sussex.
Of the total number of counselling sessions delivered, the top 10 issues children and young people talked to Childline about were: sexual abuse, bullying, mental and emotional health, family relationships, suicidal thoughts, sex and relationships, friendship issues, self-harm, problems in school/education, and physical abuse.
John Cameron, Head of Childline, said: “Placing Childline advertising boards at the edge of the Sussex County FA’s football pitch where children either play or watch matches is a great way of raising awareness of the free confidential service.
“When problems build-up it can be hard for children and young people to find solutions or know who to ask for help. They may have been threatened into silence, terrified that by speaking out they’ll make things worse.
“Childline provides them with a confidential space where they can be listened to, seek information and advice and ultimately feel empowered so they can start to get the help they need to improve their wellbeing.”
In 2017/18 there were 1,248 sexual offences against children under the age of 16 recorded by police in West and East Sussex. A total of 1,391 children were the subject of a child protection plan and there were 1,680 children in care in West and East Sussex.
Children and young people can speak to specially trained Childline counsellors, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by calling 0800 1111. An online chat service is also available via the website www.childline.org.uk.
Adults concerned about a child or a young person can call the NSPCC Helpline, further information is also available on the NSPCC website:
T: 0808 800 5000