ANOTHER Chester school is to benefit from a project aiming to make children's journeys home safer.

The funding, from Cheshire's police and crime commissioner, will take effect at St Werburgh’s and St Columba’s Catholic Primary School on Lightfoot Street, which has identified a growing need for ‘safe places’ in the community where children walking home alone can seek support if they feel unsafe.

It follows funding handed out by the Cheshire PCC to improve road safety at two other schools in Chester – Chester Bluecoat and Cherry Grove Primary School.

In 2019, St Werburgh’s and St Columba’s Catholic Primary School launched the safe school pilot project after securing funding from PCC David Keane’s Safer Communities Fund. The project enabled the school to work with local shops to provide safe spaces for young people who may be being followed or bullied on their way home from school.

Following the success of the pilot project, the PCC has agreed to help extend the project and target even more local businesses.

The funding will enable the scheme to purchase promotional materials that the shops will display in their windows so they are easily identifiable as a safe place.

The school’s pastoral manager, Kerry Prendergast, works alongside local PCSO Keith Barlett to identify businesses willing to support the scheme. They provide them will all the knowledge and resources they need to safeguard any young person seeking help.

PCC David Keane said: “It’s important that children and young people are able to stay safe on their walk home from school and have a place away from bullies or strangers.

“It will act as a deterrent for perpetrators in the area if they know children are aware of dangers and know what to do if they are approached.”

Kerry Prendergast added: “I am aware of parents’ worries and concerns when allowing their children to walk home alone especially once they reach upper juniors and approach high school age.

“There have been some cases where children have been approached by strangers so we want to do all we can to provide a safe space where they can seek support if they feel like they are being targeted.

“We’re thankful for the funding from PCC David Keane to make the safe school project happen and to make journeys to and from school safer for hundreds of pupils.”

The safe school project is one of 122 community projects across Cheshire which have been working alongside their local policing team to secure funding to address the needs in their local area. The fund was set up by the commissioner using the funds seized from criminals under the proceeds of crime act.

The Community Police Fund was launched in November to directly support the PCC’s community policing model, which provides each of the 122 community wards in Cheshire with a dedicated PC and PCSO to engage and support their local community.