My job in Southend, Essex is safe this year but I'm fully behind all my colleagues elsewhere. It's such an under-rated job because it's not just about road safety!Gill Snell, SCP for Hoyland Common Primary School, Barnsley.North Yorkshire.
We're often the last line of defence to stop some little ones from escaping the playground and wandering off on their own. We keep an eye on who goes home with whom and notice anyone unusual outside the gate. We are an authority figure outside for children to go to when they are unsure about something at home-time or just to notice them when they're upset and don't know what to do.
We also talk to the pre-schoolers when they cross with their elder siblings about good road safety, helping them to absorb the right behaviour from the earliest ages - sometimes when their parents despair of controlling them.
I was served a redundancy notice on the 9th February 2011, as part of the local councils cutbacks. However on Thursday 10th March our jobs were given back to us after a long hard campaign over the last 5 weeks. I am one of another 2 who were served the notice and we were the only 3 throughout our borough that were to be made redundant because the Highways decided we were a duplication of services and surplus to requirement as the 3 of us have a pelican crossing to help us too.
The council saw this as an excuse not to employ an SCP there, even though I personally stand on a road that leads off the M1 motorway, the road also comes off the Dearne Valley Link Road and the road I serve is a busy A road. This road is also a main bus route and an emergency services route too, therefore I encounter, buses, lorries and cars all travelling at higher speeds than they should.
Every shift without fail I have traffic running my red light on the pelican crossing, I have personally had some near misses, and further down from my point 2 years ago a child was hit by a speeding car leaving him severely brain damaged and in a wheel chair for the rest of his life. Only 6 weeks ago one of our parents was hit by a bus as she stepped off it and she was on the pavement this resulted in her suffering severe bruising and a broken pelvis, 10 minutes later a child may have been there and the consequences could have been worse. So when I was served my notice I spoke to parents warning them that I was about to be made redundant we have 403 children attending our school, we are the largest primary school in the borough, so I had some angry, shocked parents wanting to help fight the decision. I convened a meeting within days where we appointed a campaign manager who is only 18 years old but whose twin brother and sister attend our school, his passion for children's safety is on a par with mine. This meeting also resulted in a campaign secretary, press officer, and 2 other parents being in the forefront with me to start a petition, and highlight the proposals in the local press and radio.
On the 24th February 2011 we staged a march through Hoyland Town Centre back to Hoyland Common Primary School, which is roughly 3 miles, we walked with parents and their children, carrying banners and chanting. We closed the whole of Hoyland down for 45 minutes stopping all traffic during this time. We had the support of 2 local councillors and both Calendar and Look North, plus local radio stations, and local press, all who came on the march with us. The march was aired on tv the same day and we found out no march on this scale as ever been done locally. The local councillor elected to serve the Rockingham ward came to our first meeting and tried to put the onus back onto the school saying money could come out of the school budget to pay us, parents were fuming at the suggestion and argued Highways and the council should continue to pay me. The said councillor also is on the board of governors for our school too, but was still in favour all along of school paying me. However due to huge legalities the school could not use their budget to fund me. We delivered a petition on the 2nd March 2011 to the main town hall in Barnsley to our local elected councillor who also happens to be deputy leader of the council. Again we had local press and radio with us as we marched through Barnsley town centre to deliver our 700 signature petition to him, we even made it onto news night. The following day we held another meeting inviting parents and the 2 local independent councillors who were in full support of us all the way through, and the local councillor, who as I mentioned is deputy leader of our council along to this meeting again. This meeting was called to show him that we would not back down and to ask him to give me my job back as there was to be a budget meeting on the 10th March the following week, we only had a week to get the council to revoke their decision, he assured us that the council would possibly remove us from the redundancy list, but he still wanted school to pay us even though he knew they couldn't. When the meeting finished we spoke to the other 2 councillors who told us the campaign was making the council look complete idiots and all the media hype was becoming an embarrassment to them. So we knew we were rattling a few cages, every week for 5 weeks we have not been out of the local press or radio not letting up on the media hype at all making front page news every week. Finally on the 10th March the campaign team and I plus around 4 other parents, only totalling around 10 of us, went to the budget meeting sitting in the public gallery, making our presence known , also outside the meeting we made our presence felt by wearing hi vis gear and again having TV, radio and press there.
During the meeting it was announced that the council were giving us our jobs back for 1 year, as a campaign we were over the moon we had won, successfully turning over the councils decision with only a small group of determined, caring and passionate people.
Monica is 73 years old and has been a lollipop lady for 25 years. She works as a relief person when anyone is off ill and usually covers sites in Weymouth, Portland and Dorchester but over the years she has worked at many other places in Dorset.
She loves the job she does and remembers well the occasion when she was younger and saw a young girl knocked down by a lorry, she says “that is something I will never forget”. Therefore when she had the opportunity to become a lollipop lady she jumped at it. She will be sad when she reaches 75 and has to retire.
I'm a lollipop lady and think its disgusting that they could even consider putting children's lives in danger in order to save money
The annoying thing is 5 years ago we/parents of Holy trinity fought with the council to get a lollipop person at the bottom of Holy trinity and in Chickerell Rd because large groups of kids were endangering their own and car drivers lives as they crossed the road. Then more children were taking themselves to school from a younger age. We got signatures from car drivers who had near miss accidents, countless ones as the kids ran across the roads without looking, kids on bikes were dangerous too and parents and the school fought for two years as well as resedents of the area and for what it all to be taken away!!!!You have my vote, my son is nearing the end of his year 11 and we used the crossings on Holy trinity. one lollipop lady would use her stick to stop kids from running in the road because they had no sense., i know how dangerous it can be at school runs there, people are always n a rush but anywhre there has been a survey there is a need. The council dont just make a decision they took years to give us the lollipop guys and I just dont beleive they are taking them away!!!
It took nearly 3 years to get our safety crossing for St Nick school on the Littlemoor Road. On the last inspection after being palmed off about facts for the new by pass, the highways man was horrified by car drivers hooting horns at childeren stranded in the middle of the road, unable to finish crossing due to fast moving traffic and trapped from going back to safety due to thoughless drivers moving off. He had to jump into the road three time to assist childeren crosing and nearly got hit himself. Aftrer seening lorry mirrors whizzing past small ,heads he had seen enough. This proposed cut is so wrong and makes me feel so ahamed to be an adult. "Every Child Matters" and " No Excusses" sound like hollow words from an advertizing campaign :((
If you are a lollipop person, or you would like to tell us of your experiences of School Crossing Patrols, feel free to contact us with your stories. The Campaign's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and you can join the discussion on our Facebook group.