MORE than 200 children from a Wigan High School were given a dramatic insight into the dangers of starting deliberate fires thanks to a new partnership initiative funded by Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS).
Year seven pupils from the Deanery High School were visited by actors from drama company Performance in Education (PIE) as part of a series of pilot drama workshops being rolled out to schools across Greater Manchester to educate children about the dangers of arson.
Pupils watched Andy (Scott Oswald) and his friends, Gem (Karina Booth) and Dev (Chris Kinahan) living their every-day lives, hanging out, going home and to school.
One day, for a laugh, Dev sets fire to a bin and later Andy deliberately sets a rubbish tip alight, but the blaze quickly spreads and leaves Gem badly burnt and her friends in trouble with the police.
Among those watching was 11-year-old Charlotte Jeacock, who said: “It was a really good play and it really made you think about how serious the consequences of starting a fire could be for the fire service and for everyone really.
“Setting fires is so risky and even if someone dares you, you shouldn’t do it, because the fire service might be needed somewhere else and it can spread to trees and homes and be really dangerous for anyone.”
Ethan Brogan, also 11, said: “It was really good and you shouldn’t set fire to anything and setting fire to a bin can be really serious and could kill someone if the fire spreads.”
Throughout October the arson drama workshops will tour secondary schools in high risk areas for arson and bin fires.
Teacher Anna Ross said: “The drama workshop was a welcome addition to our Year seven Personal Social Health Education lessons and the children were absolutely captivated throughout the performance.
“It really made them think about the consequences of starting deliberate fires for themselves, their family, the fire service and the wider community.
“It was a really effective way to help Year 7 learn about actions and consequences. Going forward we’ll look at pupils passing what they’ve learnt about fire safety down to Year 6 pupils at local primary schools.”
The workshops are in addition to Bonfire and firework safety school visits taking place across Greater Manchester as part of Treacle.
GMFRS’ Community Safety Education Manager, Debbie Barlow said: “Using drama to highlight the risks and consequences of starting deliberate fires is a powerful way of getting young people to understand the dangers, especially as Bonfire Night approaches.
“The drama workshops are designed to develop young people’s self-esteem and to help them resist any peer pressure that could lead to anti-social behaviour and involvement in arson.”
Treacle is a partnership based approach aimed at preventing, tackling and protecting against antisocial behaviour, criminal damage and reducing incidents and injuries