Safe Hands Programme 2019
This project was funded by the City of Wolverhampton Council
What is it and who is it for?
This programme began in 2019 and to date, we have engaged 6 cohorts of girls, a total of 76 pupils. The nature and intensity of the programme means we can comfortably accommodate 12 pupils per programme though we have extended this to 14 in two of the schools we have/are working with.
What we did
We liaised with the respective schools to identify those girls who would benefit most from the programme which has at its core resilience building. We tailored the content to address a range of issues which includes self-esteem, body image, self-harm, gender stereotypes, personal branding, ambitions and aspirations, relationships, building and developing confidence, keeping safe in the real and virtual world, domestic abuse, sexual health, mental health and wellbeing. We also provided a safe space for the girls to raise any additional issues to those outlined.
All the girls were provided with journals to capture amongst other things their thoughts and feelings using a range of mediums e.g. drawing, photos, text (prose, poetry), collage and so forth. These journals are the private property of the girls, some of who shared the sort of entries they were making but others did not. Where they were shared we used this as a springboard for wider discussion around the particular topic/(s).
For the primary aged girls we took a much more creative, crafting approach to ensure we maintained their engagement but also to make the experience fun and memorable.
The secondary aged girls enjoyed elements of creativity i.e a ninja activity to dispel negative thinking and behaviours and also engaged in extensive debate, challenging not only their thinking and responses but those of their peers.
Both the primary and secondary school pupils engaged in a significant degree of peer and self-regulation. The outliers in the groupings were often constructively challenged to bring their thinking and behaviours in line with their peers though this was not always the case.
Some of the girls asked for additional support in pursuit of their academic goals which we relayed to the schools on their behalf. Others asked us to expedite pre-existing referrals to outside agencies which we did in partnership with the schools.
The feedback from the girls has been extremely positive and especially so from those who at the start of the programme were suspicious about the reasons they were identified for the programme and concerned about the information we gathered being shared with the schools. As is our practice we check their understanding of safeguarding at the start of the programme, explain what it means for us and the legal requirement to notify the school if any such issues came to light during the sessions. The development of trust is critically important to the success or otherwise of a programme of this nature and it important to deliver the programme in such a way that trust is developed and sustained early on.