Park View School- Thursday 21st September
PARK VIEW COMMUNITY SCHOOL – CRIME AND SAFETY AWARENESS DAY
On Thursday, 21st September 2017 the PMNW team returned to Park View Community School, Chester-le-Street for the third consecutive year to deliver their Crime and Safety Awareness Day.
We were welcomed by Mr Rob Glass, Teacher of English and Citizenship Coordinator and the Head Teacher Mr Veitch who, as always, was really looking forward to the reaction of the Year 9 students knowing what was lying in wait for them.
As usual the students gathered in the Theatre for the launch whereupon they were left in no doubt as to the importance of what lay ahead and how the day was a unique opportunity to learn the key message of taking responsibility for their own actions and the many consequences associated with failing to do so.
The whole day is perfectly summed up by Mr Glass as follows :
I just witnessed a child with tears in her eyes in one of my classes. She’s a lovely young lady and someone who always has a smile on her face and a friendly hello for me when I see her in school. Similarly, in another session, I’ve just witnessed a fourteen year old lad, usually brave and bold beyond his years, visibly cringing at what he was being told.
This isn’t an ordinary occurrence at Park View – it’s usually a lovely, calm, happy place, but today we’ve been visited by Prison! Me! No-Way! for a crime and safety awareness day. They’re a charitable organisation who deliver hard-hitting, informative and engaging workshops about various aspects of crime, prison life and safety awareness.
We’ve been treated to an invasion of current and ex-prison officers, Northern Power Grid operatives, Police Officers, Alcoholics Anonymous members, CEOPs staff and two current prisoners, both currently serving custodial sentences.
The young girl in tears in the opening paragraph was listening to the personal story of an ex-alcoholic, someone who had volunteered to come and share their story of despair, worry and alcoholism. She welled up when the man told her that he had attempted suicide four times because of alcoholism and depression. As a society we’re told stories like this through the media, but having a grown man, someone who looked much like one of their grandparents, tell her stories of living on the streets, wetting himself and being beaten up due to his problems with drink made a real connection. A lady’s tales of a family ripped apart through drink and drug abuse had a similar effect upon teachers and students alike. Thankfully, the two volunteers were able to share their stories of success at combating their addictions and rebuilding their lives with the help of family and friends.
Similarly, the stories of the current prisoners, brought in to explain the realities of prison life, hit home with the students. The ‘reveal’ of the two ladies identities halfway through the session led to stunned silence – the students obviously didn’t expect two young women who could have been an older sister or maybe their mother, to be “criminals” serving long sentences for serious crimes. Their first-hand explanations of prison, showing that it wasn’t ‘cushy’ or ‘easy’ as the media sometimes portrays it to be, were moving and passionate.
Our students were also treated to the Prison Van; a life-size cell created in the back of a truck – 2.5m by 3.5m, complete with toilet, bunks and table. The explanation that prisoners have no privacy, none at all, from their cellmate made some turn away in disgust. The size and claustrophobic nature of the cell also made some feel decidedly uncomfortable.
Another session was led by two PCSOs from the local area and was centred on gun, knife and violent crime, and the consequences of actions surrounding knives and anti-social behaviour. The vast array of knives, the utterly gruesome pictures of the wounds inflicted by everyday kitchen objects and the explanation of the types of sentences handed out for these crimes made a lot of the students ask some very thoughtful questions of the PCSOs.
Perhaps the most entertaining workshop of the day was the â€˜Street Scene where a pair of ex-prison officers directed our students in a role play of anti-social and drunken behaviour. The main message of the role-play was that, while having a drunken and loud laugh with your mates might feel good to you, if you’re causing harm, annoyance or distress to others, then you’re in danger of getting in serious trouble.
The students learnt a lot throughout the day; some extremely difficult and thought-provoking issues were sensibly and maturely discussed and the team remarked on how engaged and interested our students were. Phil Wilson from Prison, me! No way! said:
“The students in Year 9 were a credit to themselves as well as the school and it was good to see all abilities rewarded in the closing session, which just goes to show that with a little encouragement and a unique approach, everyone can benefit. Let’s hope that some future difficult choices and decisions the students will invariably have to make have been made just a little bit easier knowing the consequences that could await them.”
To sum up the experience, Joe, from year 9, stated:
“It was a great day, educational and I learnt loads. The prisoners made me realise that criminals aren’t all tough looking, that they’re just ordinary people like you and me; people who have made mistakes. The whole day made me think carefully about making the right choices. It also made it obvious that I really don’t want to go to jail!”
I would like thank the following for their contribution to a very enjoyable and successful day:
Prison Life – Dennis Williams, Dave Witt and John Palmer;
Street Scene – Ollie Woods and Ian Revell;
Choices and Consequences – Dave Bainbridge and Paul Wilkinson and the ladies from HMP Low Newton and Askham Grange;
Child Exploitation Online Protection – Larry Peacock;
Northern Power Grid – Leena Markovic and Richard Wilson;
Weapons Awareness – PCSO’s Adrian Richards and Connor Wood;
Alcoholics Anonymous – Paul and Jemma.
Also many thanks to Linda Wilkinson for working as tirelessly as ever behind the scenes to support the whole event.
This was the first Crime and Safety Awareness Day of the new academic year and we could not have wished for a better start: Great School, Great Team, Great Result!
We all look forward to a return next year.
Phil Wilson – Event Coordinator