May... already! It must be time for SATs, usually a relatively quiet time at Warning Zone with school bookings tailing off towards the week of the tests itself and only independent schools coming during those five days.
This year however we are full-on right through into our really busy period up to the end of the school year. This means, despite running with the greatest number of volunteers that we have ever had, we will need to pull out all the stops to cover the remaining session.
The seven new volunteers who completed their training during April are now into their “shadowing” period before taking their places in the roster. Good luck to them all; we hope they enjoy their volunteering at WZ and get plenty of experience before the summer break.
The interviews for the role of Volunteer Co-ordinator took place last month. Around 60 applications were received with 6 being shortlisted. The successful candidate was Louise Lemmon who has already been working alongside Alan as part of her induction into the job. Louise has worked as a police officer for the past 20 years, the last 10 as an investigator in Child Abuse and Domestic Violence cases. In a previous role as a Beat Officer she worked with community volunteers tackling anti-social behaviour in the Beaumont Leys and Hamilton areas of the city. We all welcome Lou to the WZ team and wish her well in her new role.
Louise has already received her training to act as a guide/educator and has now started to shadow as Visit Manager. A number of volunteers have already met Lou and she is looking forward to getting to know everyone.
There is a Warning Zone Quiz Night coming up again. The last one held just before Christmas was a sell-out but there is still a chance to book tickets for the next one being held at 7pm Thursday 15th May. £5 per person with teams of four. Call 0116 2629739 now to book.
Guide: “What would a police officer do with the alcohol he confiscates from the young people?”
Pupil: “DRINK IT!!”
We’re all recovering from a hectic week at the end of March which saw WZ staff heavily involved in fundraising events; the L Factor at Leicester University on Thursday with an audience of 1000 and a Casino evening on Saturday at Oakham School. L Factor raised around £50,000 for Warning Zone and the Lord’s Taverners while the Casino cleared around £7000 for WZ funds. A big thank you to those who were involved in the organisation of both of these hugely successful evenings.
Of course, at the same time as staffing these events, we are running important “learning for life” sessions for Year 6 pupils day in, day out. This can only happen because of fundraising and we rely on events, both small and large, to keep bringing in the money. We particularly would like to develop some high profile events in the county area of Leicestershire so if anyone has an idea and is interested in taking the lead on such a fundraising event, please contact Vimme at Warning Zone.
Other news about the governance of the charity is that we have a new Trustee appointed to the Board. Helen Johnson is Managing Partner and an experienced Criminal Law Solicitor at Emery Johnson Astills in Leicestershire. Helen was President of the Leicestershire Law Society last year and chose Warning Zone as the benefitting charity for her fundraising events. We are really fortunate to now have Helen’s experience and differing perspective on our governing body.
Don’t forget, Easter will soon be here and it’s not too late to book tickets for our Cup Cake and Cake Pop making sessions on Wednesday 23 April (see the website for details).
Finally, a goodbye from the author of the Blog on the Frog (that’s Alan if you didn’t know who was responsible). After almost 9 years with Warning Zone I’ve decided it is time to move on and get on with the rest of my life. Warning Zone has been a huge part of my life since 2005 and an immensely satisfying experience too.
Not many people get the chance to sit down with a blank sheet of paper and help create something like WZ once, let alone twice! I will remain a firm supporter and “Friend of WZ” as the staff, trustees and of course, the volunteers continue to develop this valuable local resource for schools and others who wish to encourage a sense of personal and social responsibility in our future generations.
My last day is the 2nd May and interviews for the new Volunteer Co-ordinator take place on 7 April so watch this space.
Finally, a tribute to the volunteer team, without whom WZ couldn’t exist…
Teaching Assistant to WZ volunteer at the end of a session with a fairly challenging group;
“And you do this voluntarily!?”
March is the month of two major fundraising events for Warning Zone Leicester. As mentioned in the
February BOTF, L-Factor takes place at the O2 Academy on Thursday 27th competition aims to raise more than £50,000 for Warning Zone and The Lord’s Taverners and tickets are still on sale at £20, obtainable from the ticket hotline 01773 540948.
The second event happens two days later in Rutland at Barraclough Hall, Oakham School. Tony and Trish Ruddle have arranged another Grand Casino Night, last year’s event raising almost £12,000.
This month already, we have seen our first parents group session at Warning Zone when the Netherhall Children’s Centre staff brought 15 service users to experience the Year 6 programme. The feedback about the level of learning achieved during the session was extremely positive and reminds us that parents are not able to advise their children on how to stay safe and out of trouble if they don’t already know themselves. This is an area that should be ripe for development with the appropriate partners but engagement is difficult. The Children’s Centre staff have undertaken to spread the word.
WZ has linked up with Leicester City FC who are offering 2 day Easter Football Coaching Courses for 7 to 13 year olds. Children having attended WZ are offered a 20% discount on the usual £30 fee. The sessions include coaching in every aspect of footballing, LCFC player visits, prizes, medals and certificates for every participant and free tickets to the QPR fixture on 19 April. 0844 815 5000 (select option 1) for more information.
Talking of the Easter holidays, this year Warning Zone offers a Cup Cake and Cake Pop decorating workshop with “The Fruity Chocolatier” and “Viva La Cupcakes”. The morning and afternoon sessions are suitable for under 16s who must be accompanied by an adult whilst the evening session is for adults only. All sessions are “hands-on” and the evening session only includes chocolate egg decoration, canapes and Prosecco. See the events section of our website or call 0116 2629739 for more details.
We must acknowledge help from Stuart Lake, Director of Linemakers Ltd. from Syston. We recently had some resurfacing work done on our car park and needed some renewal of the white line marking. Stuart came to quote for the job, was shown around by Richard and was so enthused by what we do at WZ he promptly said he would do the job for free. Thank you Stuart.
Finally, the Eurovision connection. Yes, Eurovision and Warning Zone; you never expected to see those words in the same sentence but new volunteer Jan Smitten-Downes is the proud mum of this year’s UK contestant, Molly Smitten-Downes. We all wish Molly well in Copenhagen.
A rather belated Happy New Year from Warning Zone, Leicester. Belated not least because things have been happening on the IT side of things here at WZ. Not only are we now on Cloud (lovely view from up here) but our new website is now up and running.
We still have the same web address so if you haven’t seen it yet check it out and find your way around. While you are there, have a look at the list of planned fundraising events for 2014. From our point of view we now have much more control over any changes we might wish to make to the web pages.
It’s at this time of year that it becomes apparent how little available time remains in the school year. After Christmas we sent a reminder to schools who hadn’t yet booked which prompted a sudden rush of phone calls. With teachers focussed on Year 6 SATs in May, which rules out school trips, there is now a very finite number of spare sessions left with June being completely full.
Our Volunteers’ Christmas social event was very successful with a range of traditional pub games on offer. I’m pleased to report that these were of the skittles, shove ha’penny type and none involved putting ferrets down people’s trousers.
At busy periods we still sometimes struggle to cover all our guiding slots which are often filled at short notice by some of our volunteers. Six new volunteers have now started their training course and should be going solo in March which should ease things in the June and early July madness. Additionally, applications have been received from three more people who may also be fully trained by then. This will bring our volunteer team to 60 people.
Scenario 6, the consequences of offending:
Guide to group, “So if you have a criminal record you may not be able to get the job you would like.
Boy, “Yeh, but you could always be a footballer.”
Hello everyone. Well here we are in December already and Christmas staring us in the face. We’ve had Black Friday and Cyber Monday… I’m still waiting for Ruby Tuesday and Pleasant Valley Sunday (if you don’t understand just ask someone old) but I don’t think they are anything to do with retail therapy. It’s been a very busy November and a very frustrating one with us not having our telephone lines for around 4 weeks; my arms were getting sore doing all that semaphore work from the roof and we were down to our last carrier pigeon.
Last month we were presented with a cheque for over £6000 from Leicester Charnwood, Rothley and Soar Valley and Thurnby Lions who, together, held a fundraising golf competition for WZ. We also benefitted from a collection at the annual Procon Awards held at Leicester Tigers which also raised over £6000.
Already this month we have hosted a visit from Market Harborough Rotary Club who have pledged a donation and expressed interest in giving further support. We are extremely grateful to these and other organisations that have chosen to support WZ; raising £250K each year is not easy and it is great to have the support of individuals, fundraising organisations and businesses to help us continue our work for our future citizens. Next month I will be giving some details about The L Factor, a major fundraiser taking place on 27th March next year.
The second Great Warning Zone Pub Quiz takes place this month with nearly 100 people taking part and then it’s into the festive celebrations with our Volunteers’ Christmas Social. In the past two weeks we have celebrated the achievements of no less than three of our volunteers who have now joined the 100 Club (100 WZ sessions completed). Well done and thanks to them for their continued support.
Guide in Alcohol scenario,
“Have you seen anyone drunk, what do they do?”
“Well when my mum gets drunk she asks for chips.”
We don’t always set the best example do we? Have a safe and Merry (but not too “merry”) Christmas.
The new academic year is now beginning to get really busy and not only with the usual Year 6 visits. In terms of school bookings, we have getting on for 5000 children booked in for this year already and more local agencies and organisations are now beginning to use the facilities here at Warning Zone.
This month we are hosting Leicestershire Police’s Tasking Group Meeting, an Anti-Bullying Conference for local Special Schools, and in half term we have New Direction staff running an alcohol misuse session on behalf of Leicester City Youth Services followed by Leicestershire Youth Offending Service with one of their regular early intervention programmes.
Additionally at the end of the month Sure Start from Netherhall in the city are bringing 22 adults to gain knowledge of child safety. This visit is a result of children coming to Warning Zone, going home and talking about issues their parents were unsure of.
Also this month we are holding a special evening screening of the new briefing film for the cast and those who provided locations such as David Wilson Homes, Plumbing Trade Supplies and the Great Central Railway. The film itself is proving to be really useful in setting the scene for our Year 6 groups while being sufficiently hard edged to be used by the Youth Offending Service for their group work.
Finally, volunteer news. Last month volunteer Ken Jones clocked up his 200th session at WZ and this month sees Hilary Parratt do likewise. Both have been volunteering with us since our first year at Syston in 2006 so I think they’ve decided they like it here. At the other end of the process we are just starting a training course for three new volunteers; good luck to them and I hope they enjoy their time at Warning Zone.
Latest posting from our colleagues at Warning Zone:
It’s an incredible thought that we are now at the start of our third academic year here on the lovely Frog Island; the tempus really does fugit. It’s beautiful down here by the river as autumn takes hold; mists rise from the river at sunrise, dew hangs from the cobwebs in the hedgerows, the wooded banks take on golden hues and skeins of geese soar into the reddening western sky each afternoon. Well, the wet cobwebs bit is true anyway.
From 1995 to 2005, this time of year always meant Safety Squad, the 2 week temporary outdoor safety event organised by Crimebeat and Leicestershire Police with City and County Education Departments. Two weeks of hoping the weather was going to hold, dewy grass-wet feet, children working in large groups and still only the capacity for 900 or so of them each year. In many parts of the country these temporary events still continue and their organisers would give anything to have facilities like Warning Zone on their doorstep. Here we are 8 years on and over 31,000 local Year 6 pupils have now learned so much from their experience at Warning Zone.
The schools are back now with over 3000 children booked in to date and the phone ringing off the wall every day with new bookings. The Volunteers’ Summer Day Out at Bosworth Field was enjoyed by all and a great way to say “thank you” to our guiding team. This was quickly followed up by a couple of refresher training sessions for the guides. These included a useful look at online safety courtesy of James Diamond, a trainer and consultant in e-safety and safeguarding who has volunteered his services to help us develop our knowledge in this area. The sessions also gave our volunteers their first look at the new briefing film we shot during the summer and to hear about the findings of the recent volunteer survey they took part in.
Last week saw a fundraising golf day at Beedles Lake, East Goscote organised for Warning Zone by three local Lions clubs; Thurnby, Leicester Charnwood and Rothley & Soar Valley. We are very grateful to them for their continued support. We are also seeing a sudden take up on bookings for meeting rooms, more of which next month.
Latest posting from our Leicester colleagues at Warning Zone:
As reported last month, a major piece of work has been the shooting of a new briefing film to be shown to visiting groups on their arrival at WZ. The film sets the scene for everything that follows during their two hour visit and was made possible by funding from the Wooden Spoon charity. Filming started on Saturday 27th July and continued in the following week. Poor weather on the Wednesday forced an extra day filming on Thursday when finally, the director/cameraman was able to call, “That’s a wrap”. Thanks all round to Nutmeg 3D, the adult actors, the chaperones, those providing locations but not least to our six leading cast members, former Year 6 pupils from Wolsey House Primary School, Beaumont Leys Lane in Leicester: they were great. The film will be ready for use at the start of the new school year.
Warning Zone is supporting National Citizens Service programme this summer. Six hundred 16/17 year olds from Leicester, Leicestershire & Rutland will be participating. As part of this programme the youngsters need to volunteer in their local community to make a difference. We offered a WZ fundraising project.
We obviously struck a chord as we were the first project to be chosen. Eleven young people have started working at WZ this week and are planning their activities under the guidance of Ben, our De Montfort Uni student intern (well, he’s the closest we have to a young person on our staff). Next week they put their plans into action; look out Leicester!
Our Wednesday Open Day Drop-in events continue with people from a wide range of organisations and businesses visiting us to find out more about the charity, the centre and what they can do to help. Already these have opened up some interesting possibilities for partnerships and funding.
Finally, our utmost sympathy goes out to the family and friends of 14 year old Hannah Smith of Lutterworth who took her own life last week, apparently after being subjected to online bullying and abusive comments. Internet safety is about so much more than “grooming” and we are actively seeking funding to develop a complete “stand-alone” resource at WZ that we can offer to schools either prior to or following their usual Year 6 visit. Whatever the politicians do or don’t do about cyber bullying and trolls, we need to equip young people to feel safe, confident and secure when online.
Warning Zone is located on Frog Island in Leicester. Here is the latest edition of 'Blog on the Frog'.
The current academic year draws to a close with our last school in at Warning Zone on the 18th. June and July are always full-on with bookings and the volunteers that are available work their socks off. Many people take the opportunity to go away before the daft school holiday prices kick-in and this means it is often down to the wire when covering school visits. Well done and thanks to our volunteers who have managed to cover them all.
People are always asking, “What do you do in the holidays? It must be really quiet.” WHAT? This is Warning Zone; there’s always something going on. July sees the start of a run of business open days with 500 invitations having gone out.
Last month two short promotional films were shot using children from Wolsey House Primary School and we are now well into the planning for the filming of a new 5 minute briefing film to be shot later this month. We are again using children who will have just left Wolsey House as well as adult actors. The filming will take us out to several locations for a total of four days and the planning and logistics required are considerable.
On the fundraising side, this month also sees two evening Osprey Cruises on Rutland Water with wine, canapés and hopefully some ospreys and good weather. To be honest, the rain never gets in the way of a good evening and this year has seen a record number of chicks hatch at Rutland so there should be plenty of hunting for fish suppers going on.
Those of you going to the Market Bosworth Show on Sunday 7th should keep an eye out for Zoe, Rachel and Carl who are on the Warning Zone stand raising awareness of our work. Say hello and have a go at the beer goggles game.
Finally, you may have heard interviews with Richard and Vimme on BBC Radio Leicester following a reported incident of youths trespassing on the railway in Leicester. This is a reminder that the summer holidays in particular offer plenty of opportunity for youngsters to either hurt themselves or get into trouble. Well this July there are another 7000+ eleven year olds out there who should be better prepared to look after themselves – thanks to Warning Zone.
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