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Safer Stronger

Mr Shapeshifter goes digital to protect young people

A UNIQUE project has developed an online Home Learning Resource aimed at protecting nine to eleven-year-old children from abuse and exploitation.

Mr Shapeshifter initially launched in spring 2019, with the Deputy Mayor of Greater Manchester providing funding in January 2020 to enable Tameside-based GW Theatre Company to further raise awareness of and tackle child sexual abuse and exploitation across the city-region.

The project is built around the story of Mr Shapeshifter, a modern exciting fairy tale by award-winning writer Mike Harris about the way some adults abuse the trust of children and how children can work together and with trusted adults to protect themselves.

GW Theatre worked with Greater Manchester’s complex safeguarding teams to deliver performances of the Mr Shapeshifter theatre production in primary schools as well as using an animated version of the story to reach more vulnerable children in other settings.

Due to the closure of schools because of COVID-19, Mr Shapeshifter project had to be put on pause, but it will resume in the autumn of 2020.

In response to the pandemic, GW Theatre Creative Director Dave Jones has created an online Home Learning Resource built around the animated version of the story which has been shared with all primary schools and safeguarding leads across the city-region to continue supporting young people and keep them safe. It is also available for free at

Deputy Mayor Bev Hughes said: “Sexual exploitation and abuse of children is abhorrent. Children have the right to be protected from harm and it is important that they learn when the behaviour of another person is wrong.

“The Mr Shapeshifter play and new online resources are a really helpful way to help children learn about children about these issues and the interactive basis means that it is done in a way they can understand and which involves their parents and carers.

“I am pleased to continue supporting this key piece of work to protect our young people from serious issues such as child sexual exploitation as we all work through COVID-19 together.”  

GW Theatre Creative Director Dave Jones said: “This early intervention work is more important than ever whilst children are away from school and spending more time online talking and playing. Its purpose is to entertain, inform and safeguard children against risk and danger in real life and online, and the Home Learning Resource has the added benefit of involving and supporting parents and carers. We are proud to be working with GMCA using creativity as a force for good.”

Follow GW Theatre Company on social media @GW_Theatre and to request further information about the productions or resources please contact / 07976-853988.



Article Published: 16/07/2020 13:10 PM