Sheffield is to ‘Go Green’ - to highlight shock new NSPCC figures which reveal the city to have more ‘high risk’ families than elsewhere in the country.
The number of families dealing with tough living situations - including alcohol, drugs, abuse or poverty - is well above the national average.
And, according to the NSPCC’s figures, Sheffield has a larger than average number of drug and alcohol-using parents in the city.
Most recent statistics from the children’s charity claim a quarter of the city’s children were found to be living in poverty in 2010.
Children in Sheffield were also found to be less emotionally healthy than others nationally, with issues around their parents’ mental health having an impact.
To raise awareness, Sheffield is to ‘Go Green’ for 24 hours to launch the UK’s first annual Children’s Day later this year.
The day of awareness, on November 20, will see buildings, businesses and individuals across the city all turn green - in a bid to promote the rights and wellbeing of Sheffield children.
Sheffield’s NSPCC president Julie Kenny said: “Everybody’s heard of Red Nose Day. Go Green Day - which will run hand-in-hand with Children’s Day - is about raising awareness of the issues and problems children in our city are facing and then fundraising to help fix them.
“Sheffield has the largest NSPCC centre in the UK and that’s because we have a lot of deprived families and children who need our help.”
NSPCC Sheffield and local charity Youth Can Achieve have teamed up for the campaign, which they hope will go on to become a national and, eventually, a global day of awareness and fundraising.
Julie added: “We’re asking the people of Sheffield to make a contribution on the day and wear green clothes, drink green tea, bake green buns, paint their nails green, maybe even dip-dye their hair green to show their support.”
Money raised by the Go Green campaign on Children’s Day each year will help fund a preventative support system in local schools, giving children aged nine to 11 the chance to highlight any concerns and talk through issues that are bothering them.
“By teaching young people to understand what abuse and neglect are, we’re hopeful we can deal with difficult situations before they have a chance to escalate,” said Julie.
“We believe prevention is the most important message. “We’d love to get to the point where we don’t have a children’s centre in Sheffield - because we don’t need one.”
Activities in the city on the day so far are to include a flash mob at Meadowhall shopping centre, a world record attempt at Hallamshire Squash Club, a charity auction and a 5K run.
A number of businesses, stores and groups, including Sheffield Eagles, have already committed to going green to show their support.
Youth Can Achieve founder, and chair of Sheffield’s NSPCC, Nikki Sharpe, told The Star: “Sheffield is taking a big step with this campaign, becoming the first major UK city to celebrate the day.
“Children’s Day has been around since 1954, and is already popular in countries including Bulgaria and Australia though it has never really been celebrated in England.”
Former England football referee Uriah Rennie, from Sheffield, is working closely with the charities to get the Go Green message out.
“It’s really hard to imagine there are children living in this very city in such difficult circumstances,” said the dad-of-three.
“I would love to see every Sheffield kid in a position to enjoy their childhood. It’s ambitious but we have to start somewhere.
“Every single penny Go Green raises will stay locally. This is a project that deserves our support.”
NSPCC Sheffield is now asking the children of the city to help to create a logo for the campaign.
Nikki said: “We’d love children to send us their logo designs, something to represent Children’s Day and ‘going green’ - think how exciting it would be to see your design used nationally, or even globally.
“The competition is free and open to all children aged five to 18. Entries must be of a picture which can be used to form a logo.”
The closing date is September 4.
Entries should be sent to Star reporter Nik Brear at The Star, York Street, Sheffield, S1 1PU.
For more information on the Go Green campaign and Children’s Day later this year, visit www.nspcc.org.uk