Animated Discussions

Barnardo’s Polepark Family Service in Dundee provides post-investigative support to children and families affected by abuse and neglect.

This month the service launched a six-minute animated DVD aimed at helping children to protect themselves from abuse.

Ann Manzi, Polepark’s children’s service manager, says the idea for the DVD came about in early 2004 when the service was doing work on keeping children safe. “We already used board games and books and were looking for a cartoon aimed at children because they love cartoons.”

Staff from the service decided to create their own storyboard and script for a cartoon. They presented their work to children – who range from three to 18 years old – attending the service and were told their efforts were “rubbish”.

Manzi says the children and young people complained the script contained language that was too adult and said they could do a better job, which they promptly did. Staff approached local animator Bruce Husband and over nine months he worked with four young service users who drew the film’s characters and made them out of plasticine, made the film’s backdrops, and delivered the dialogue.

It cost £8,000 to produce the DVD but the money has been well spent, says Manzi. She says that the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and has helped to increase participants’ confidence. “The children were thrilled to know their work can help other children overcome difficult experiences.”

The making of the DVD and the way the team empowered the young people is a good example of how Scottish social work professionals can actively engage with their clients to develop a service.


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