Volunteer Week: How one Croydon woman has made a difference

On volunteer week, one Croydon woman reveals how she felt compelled to give her time to teaching children about the dangers of sex abuse.

Maria Antidormi, 43, was looking for charities to which she could donate when she realised that her time could be as important as her money.

That was when she found out about the NSPCC and their ‘Speak Out, Stay Safe’ initiative in schools.

She said: “It really is such a rewarding thing to do and I’m so pleased that such an important service exists.

“Abuse is an unfortunate reality so by making children aware of the definitions of the different types of abuse they can keep themselves safe and also look out for other children.”

‘Speak Out, Stay Safe’ is designed to help children understand how to stay safe from abuse and neglect.

With the help of mascot Buddy, volunteers like Maria deliver interactive assemblies to children aged four to 11, plus a one hour classroom workshop for older kids.

Begun in 2016, the service reached over 360,000 children across 1,255 schools in its first year alone.

The NSPCC’s head of schools work, Janet Hinton, said: “It teaches them to identify a trusted adult they can speak to both inside and outside of school if they are worried about themselves or a friend.

“It is vital that children feel able to come forward to disclose abuse but some don’t speak out because they don’t realise that what they or someone they know is suffering is abuse, nor to whom they can turn.

“This service raises awareness of what’s right and wrong.”

‘Speak Out, Stay Safe’ relies on volunteers like Maria giving two mornings a month to go into schools.

This is no mean feat for Maria, who also runs her own successful market research business.

She said: “The most challenging bit was at the start when I was learning the three scripts we use to deliver the workshops to the children.

“The team I worked with in those early days were so supportive that I was soon able to build my confidence in delivering so much information.”

Overall, she has found it a rewarding experience, and a joyful one despite the serious subject matter.

She said: “I love it when the Key Stage 1 children interact and talk about Buddy, it’s so sweet, but all the while you’re still informing them about the different forms of abuse and helping them to understand their rights.”

“If people are able to, I would certainly encourage them to take time out of their schedule and help make a difference to children’s lives.”

Volunteers undergo an interview, an e-learning training module and a two-day training workshop prior to starting.

The NSPCC say they are looking for people who believe in the empowerment and protection of children, have confidence to speak in front of group of schoolkids, are able to communicate and have regular access to email.


The NSPCC also provide a short video about the volunteers who currently deliver the service can be at


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