The vision for the Mr Shapeshifter project has always been to reach as many 9-11 year old children as possible, with an exciting, creative-learning offer which makes a significant contribution to keeping them safe from sexual abuse and exploitation. We have achieved great success and deep impact with performances of the Mr Shapeshifter play in primary schools. This work is vital and we will continue to tour the play, particularly into schools in ‘hot spot’ areas or where there are known safeguarding issues or concerns.
But we are now ambitiously expanding our vision by using the play, animation and book together, and separately. This bolsters and intensifies the impact of our work in schools with an enhanced offer, but the real and exciting leap forward is in the increased capacity it gives us to deliver work outside schools.
We are now working in appropriate ways to reach children who learn in alternative and special settings. Pioneeringly, we are finding successful ways to engage directly with parents, carers, foster carers/parents and families. The Mr Shapeshifter project can bring these people together in partnership and collaboration – making children safer and making adults part of prevention and protection. Additionally, we are now also looking to deliver safeguarding awareness raising and training work with key adults.
As a creatively driven agency of change our vision is clear and simple. Early intervention and then sustained safeguarding work with very young children is essential in order to achieve serious change. It builds instinctive self-protection skills, awareness, confidence and emotional capacity, all of which are vital to a child’s capacity to stay safe, and to recognise and report abuse and exploitation. We must empower children.
By bringing key adults into the core of this work we can build a much stronger network of support for children, as well as supporting and educating the adults themselves. We must empower adults and families.
By training and raising awareness with key agencies and workers, we can make inroads into tackling the rise in Child Criminal Exploitation, which increasingly targets very young children. We must listen to children and we must respect and protect childhood.
We must bring everyone together in a single-minded mission to do whatever possible to keep children safe from sexual abuse and exploitation. This includes breaking through the cultural and social barriers and sensitivities which are often complicit in keeping children trapped in abuse, or leading to it being hidden or not reported. We must face truths to protect all children.