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Local schoolkids learn safety skills for life

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Staying safe online and responding to dangers in the community have topped the timetable for schoolchildren from the London Borough of Hillingdon, who have been attending the Junior Citizens Scheme 2019 at Brunel University London’s STEAM Learning Centre.

The Year 6 pupils have been learning what they need to know to be streetwise before they start secondary school through ten tailored workshops on hard-hitting topics. Covering substance abuse, fire safety, danger on the Tube, internet safety and much more, each workshop teaches children what to do in real-life scenarios. 

Leading the workshop on knife crime, PC Rowena John told the 10- and 11-year-olds they’re now all old enough to go to prison – thought-provoking for those sitting cross-legged in front of her.

More than 4,000 local schoolchildren have been filing through the doors at Inspire, Brunel’s STEAM Learning Centre, during the three-week-long scheme. Led by London Fire Brigade Hillingdon and funded by Hillingdon Council, the hands-on lessons in life skills have been running for the past 20 years. This year is the second time Brunel has played host.

The message from PC John’s knife crime talk was clear. “If you find out somebody has a knife, go on your own to tell an adult. Under joint enterprise, if you commit a crime within a gang or group of people, you’ll all be guilty and sentenced with the same offence. A lot of young people are murdered with their own knives that they are carrying. What if you come into school and find out your best friend has been murdered with the knife you saw them with? How are you going to feel then?”

London Fire Brigade Hillingdon Borough Commander Martin Wilson said: “Junior Citizens provides invaluable safety skills for 10-year-old children, prior to starting secondary school. They can learn these short sharp safety messages in interactive sessions while having fun.

“This was the second year we have used Brunel University London as a venue. The general consensus is that this is a fantastic venue and fully fits the spirit of the Junior Citizens event.”

Hillingdon School Nurses, the Royal National Lifeboat Institute and Transport for London were some of the other local services to offer 10-minute safety workshops. Brunel Volunteers Manager Nancy Rawlings helped stage the event, which ended on Friday 22 March. She said: “It is a pleasure to be involved with such a worthwhile, educational community project. My thanks to all Brunel Volunteers and Brunel colleagues who assisted.”

“It’s great we’re taking children’s safety seriously,” said Mayor of Hillingdon, Councillor John Morgan, who was there with consort Pauline Bianco. “It’s also good to see all the services staff here giving up their time to teach our children the ‘dos and don’ts’ of how to stay safe.”