Dame Esther Rantzen praises Plymouth woman for her work to prevent child sexual abuse

An NSPCC worker from Plymouth has been recognised for her work helping prevent child sexual abuse in the city.

Jacky Wood, from Plymstock, was presented with an award by Dame Esther Rantzen as part of her work with the Together for Childhood programme.

Together for Childhood sees the NSPCC joining in a partnership with Plymouth City Council, Plymouth Safeguarding Children Board, Devon & Cornwall Police, Livewell Southwest, Barnardo’s, community groups, children and families, the voluntary sector and schools – with the aim of working together to prevent child sexual abuse.

As Community Lead for Together for Childhood, Jacky received an award for an idea she had to use donated Build-A-Bear® teddies as an engagement tool for young people at a local youth club. Women from Ernesettle’s Tea and Toast community group in Ernesettle began to knit pants for the bears to wear, providing a helpful conversation starter, and it resulted in young people feeling more able to talk about when they feel unsafe.

The awards were presented at the charity’s 2019 Annual Council Meeting, which saw around 200 volunteers, Honorary Members of Council, trustees and staff come together at the National Gallery in London to celebrate progress, and the priorities ahead.

Dame Esther introduced the awards by explaining how innovative ideas can make a difference to the lives of children and families.

Jacky was one of three winners, who each received their awards on stage and spoke about their ideas.

She said: “I had the most amazingly inspirational day at the NSPCC’s annual council meeting at the National Gallery in London where I went to collect the Esther Rantzen award for incredible innovation.

“I met some wonderful volunteers and supporters and heard stories about the impact our work and campaigning has on children young people and families.

“Meeting Esther and being asked to talk on stage in front of hundreds of people terrified me, but Esther was so warm and put me at ease.

“I was told everyone loved the story of Ernie the Build-a-Bear and how the Together for Childhood team in Plymouth is using him to share key messages at a community level, to ultimately prevent abuse.

“This has been a real team and community effort, developing new ways to tackle difficult subjects in really simple, but effective, ways.”

Strategic Service Centre Manager for the NSPCC in Plymouth, Oliver Mackie added: “This really highlights the potential of Together for Childhood, where momentum from a community committed to the mission to keep children safe is matched with an innovative but simple idea that engages with children and adults alike, there is much to learn from this as the project develops.”

Emma Leeke, Wales board appeal member and corporate supporter, won the volunteer award. She came up with ‘Emma’s £20 challenge’ at her business, and tasked employees to make as much money as they could from just £20. The challenge resulted in raising over £10,000 for the NSPCC.

Childline counsellor Tracey Bartley, was awarded a staff award for her creation of ‘The Box of Wonder’, which encouraged staff and volunteers to share notes or comments to one another, from thanking someone for their time to saying well done for how they handled a difficult contact.