Our perilous journey to school & news about Churchill's Lollipopper Fund

We live in a beautiful village in Hertfordshire which has many wonderful features - but very few pavements. This can make walking around quite stressful, especially with children.

 The school run can be hair raising with parents and carers either trying to edge along the road like mountaineers tackling a ledge holding hands with their offspring, or screeching guidance at the children. My personal repertoire consists of "get in the side" or "stop!" and if I had £1 for every time I have bellowed those phrases I would be a very rich woman!

Crossing the road to our village school classes as extreme sports as you negotiate  an almost blind bend, parked cars, vans delivering to the village shop and commuters, not to mention the silent but deadly cyclists who zoom down the hill. 

I'm not sure when our village was included on the Tour de France route but seriously you take your life in your hands trying to cross the road in front of lycra-clad hairless men sometimes!

We have had a succession of lollipop people in the years I have been doing the school run (18 and counting)  but after the last one retired no-one applied for the job and after we had been without one for a while the council decided we could obviously cope without one. 

Frankly I disagree - I think there are lots of schools in the same situation as us and so was delighted to learn about The Churchill Lollipopper Fund.

Basically, Churchill (the insurance people) want to help redress the balance and make this safeguard around our nation’s schools stronger than ever by giving funding to 50 schools to have their own Lollipopper. You might have seen the cute adverts on TV? 

Basically anyone who feels their local school could benefit from a lollipop person can nominate the school via this very easy to navigate site. 

I did it - you just select your area and choose your school from the drop down list. If your school's not there - no panic - you can email your nomination in.

If your school is one of the 20,000 in Britain to still have a lollipop person - fantastic! But why not nominate a school you know needs help. And you don't have to be still trudging the school run to nominate either. As a driver or just a nice human being it is worth clicking the link to make sure a few more people have a safer day.

There's been some interesting research about school crossing methods:

  •   95 per cent of parents and 88 per cent of children (aged 5 – 11) feel safer knowing there is a Lollipopper present on their route to school
  • 91 per cent of parents see a Lollipopper as being safer than a zebra or pedestrian crossing

  • Following UK legislation in 2000 stating that lollipoppers were no longer a legal requirement for schools, an increasing number of the iconic lollipop men and women have been taken off the road in recent years. One-third (32 per cent) of parents went on to reveal that a lollipopper had recently been removed from their local area with a further 61 per cent stating no crossing alternative had been put in place.

Commenting on the research and findings, Kelly Cook, head of motor claims at Churchill Insurance, said: "The safety and wellbeing of children during the school run is so important to schools and parents with road crossings a critical part of the daily journey.

"With child pedestrian casualties during the school run still an issue in the UK, we wanted to gather the opinion of both parents and children to investigate what they see as being the safest option. 

Although no longer a legal requirement for schools, it is great to see that the apparently evergreen Lollipopper is still valued as the safest option for parents and children but concerning that many have noticed their numbers diminishing in recent years."

Michael Bristow, from road safety charity, Brake, added: "With the highest rates of child pedestrian casualties in the UK occurring during the school run, the provision of a safe road crossing at schools plays a key part in our work. 

With a decreasing number of lollipop men and women on the roads, the safety and lives of children are being put at risk as other school crossing alternatives don't offer the same level of vigilance and care."

I have to agree - although all of us crossing the road together try to watch out for each other's children and oncoming traffic there have been some scary near-misses as to be honest, at either end of the day children and parents can be stressed, distracted or frankly juggling so much kit it's hard to see/concentrate.

Some parents even act as unofficial lollipoppers - standing in the middle of the road to make sure any cars can see them and hopefully make our crossing slightly less life-threatening!

I'm really hoping we are one of the lucky 50 who win funding - good luck to everyone entering and hopefully the campaign will make legislators think again about whether school crossing patrols should be made compulsory.

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