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LTA partners with University of Kent’s Centre for Child Protection to launch Safeguarding Simulation

• 4 MINUTE READ

The LTA and The University of Kent, supported with funding by Sport England and the National Lottery, are pleased to have partnered today to launch a safeguarding simulation called ‘Izzey’s Story: a safeguarding concern in tennis’.

The simulation, which was designed for Welfare Officers and County Safeguarding Officers, offers a new form of training to help address safeguarding issues.

The simulation explores a case of grooming happening over a period of time at a tennis club – something not easily achieved via traditional methods of training which are constrained by written scenarios or short videos. Acting as a form of learning, the simulation brings across a more accurate depiction of the grooming process and the nuanced aspects which can be overlooked, including cultural and attitudinal issues within a club, volunteers being isolated and not supported by committees, the risks around the use of social media, and the role of parents, children and others in the club.

The simulation will take players through a number of scenes following Izzey's story, including text messages, social media communication, emails, audio clips and videos of different characters interacting. It is underpinned by reference to David Finkelhor's theory on offending which describes the stages that a child sexual offender moves through in order to abuse a child, as well as contextual safeguarding which considers the environments and people outside of a child’s family in the context of safeguarding. 

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The intention of the simulation is to provide a safe learning environment whereby a visual interactive setting and emotive characters will provide a wealth of content for players to develop their knowledge and skills in a safe learning environment that is relevant to their role. The simulations aims to increase awareness of grooming and change attitudinal values towards certain practices which are often used by groomers seeking to exploit children. Its launch builds on the Safe to Play awareness campaign, which explored some of the same issues in a different manner.

If the simulation proves successful, similar projects may be taken up by other sports with support from Sport England. The simulation was developed with Professor Jane Reeves and other experts from University of Kent’s Centre for Child Protection, the LTA’s National Safeguarding Manager and with the support of volunteers, Councillors, coaches, tennis leaders and young people outside the sport.

Participating in the simulation will count towards safeguarding training requirements for Welfare Officer and County Safeguarding Officers. The project, which is the result of the LTA securing funding from Sport England to develop the project alongside the University of Kent, forms part of our safeguarding strategy and forms part of our work to continue to be at the forefront of safeguarding in sport. Anonymised data from the simulation will be fed back to the University of Kent and LTA, that will help reveal insight and trends for focus on in future training.  

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The LTA’s Head of Safeguarding, Dave Humphrey said: “We all have a vital role to play in keeping children, young people and adults safe from harm. We recognise that we constantly need to innovate and find new and creative ways of educating people and improving their understanding of risks. We think this simulation will help bring to life the possibility of grooming and make all those involved in club safeguarding think carefully about situations around them. We will use the data from the project to inform future training and continue to build on the progress we’ve made with our safeguarding strategy. We are delighted to have partnered with the University of Kent and Sport England and hope that it proves to be a successful example for other sports in Britain to adopt.”

Dr Tracee Green, Head of the Centre for Child Protection, added: ‘The Centre for Child Protection has a history of getting to the heart of child protection training using the latest research, innovation and technology while working in collaboration with key stakeholders. Professor Jane Reeves has been at the forefront of this pioneering work and has built upon an impressive portfolio of simulations with inspiring impact. We are excited about this recent collaboration with the LTA – resulting in the ‘Izzey’s Story’ game. This work builds on the core principles that safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility. It draws from the expertise of a proactive sporting community who want to promote good safeguarding practices and integrates proven learning pedagogy which will be of great benefit to the children ‘Izzey’s Story’ aims to keep safe.’

The simulation facilitates discussions about the risks and promotes learning about the procedures, policies and relationships in the LTA that exist to protect young people like Izzey and are designed to stop grooming in its tracks.

Professor Jane Reeves said: ‘The significance of 'Izzey's Story' is that it recognises that grooming is a sad reality in sport and that in tennis, club welfare officers and county safeguarding officers across Britain benefit from training on this. 'Izzey's Story' is an important, modern and significant piece of training designed in partnership between The Centre for Child Protection and the LTA, which tackles a complex area of abuse by entering Izzey's life. 

‘Officers are given a window into her life via her social media pages and the relationships she forms so they are able to see how she is groomed, the risks she is exposed to as well as the protective relationships and factors which also exist. The simulation facilitates discussions about the risks and promotes learning about the procedures, policies and relationships in the LTA that exist to protect young people like Izzey and are designed to stop grooming in its tracks.’

Book your course today

Welfare Officers and County Safeguarding Officers can book onto the Izzey's Story course for free.

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