'Trust Bertie': Safeguarding scheme will teach Northamptonshire children to share what gives them 'butterflies'
Northamptonshire's children will be taught to "trust Bertie and share what is giving them the butterflies" in a new campaign to keep young people safe.
A new scheme created by the hard work of a PSCO with Northamptonshire Police will show children how they can share what is troubling them with people who can help.
Over 14,000 schoolchildren in the county already know Bertie the Blue Butterfly. He's the mascot of the Blue Butterfly Project and will appear on badges worn by police officers throughout Northamptonshire going forward.
The project will teach young children if they see or experience something that gives them "the butterflies" they should share it with a trusted adult they see wearing a Bertie badge.
It aims to help make the police, teachers and childcare professionals more aware of dangers facing young people like bullying, domestic violence and abuse so they can take action and safeguard them.
Northamptonshire Police say since its pilot in 2015 the scheme has helped them safeguard 20 children in the county who would not have come forward if not for Bertie.
The scheme is the brainchild of PSCO Kirsten Bates, who spoke about her inspiration for the project at a launch event at Northamptonshire Police HQ yesterday (June 13).
She said: "I used to talk in schools about staying safe and I used to talk about that 'butterfly' feeling in your tummy.
"But after once session, a little girl came up to me and said something at home had given her the 'butterfly' feeling and she wanted to tell me.
"Because of that, she was able to tell us about domestic violence in her home and we were able to step in and help."
PSCO Bates used the experience to create the Blue Butterfly Project along South Northants police coordinator Katrina Heath with to encourage to share what is giving them 'butterflies' with trusted adults.
Now, police officers, fire officers, emergency services, teachers and other professionals will be encouraged to wear the Bertie badge as well - and could be rolled out to other parts of the country in time.
Northamptonshire Police assistant chief constable James Andronov said: "We're here to list the Blue Butterfly scheme up to a new level.
"The beauty of the blue butterfly is its simplicity and its clear goal of safeguarding young people.
"With the continued effort of everyone in Northamptonshire we can encourage more children to make disclosures so we can safeguard them."