Keeping children safe at Safeside Co-operative

Posted by Maryann Denfhy | 22/05/2013 | Category: Social responsibility

You can find one of our food stores in a unique location where only 120 customers are served per day, usually around the ages of 10 and 11. None of the products are sold and there is no real money inside the tills!

This Co-operative store is in Birmingham’s Safeside Centre, a realistic indoor townscape which opened in 2009. It also features a full size house, road crossing, double decker bus, train, dark alleyway, car and canal.

Managed by West Midlands Fire Service, the purpose is to teach visitors about a variety of safety issues alongside citizenship, sustainability and lifeskills.

Children are tasked with shopping for a neighbour. Armed with a shopping list and a ten pound note, they work together to collect the goods and go to the counter. Unfortunately, the neighbour has included a lottery ticket, alcohol and cigarettes amongst the general groceries required. The children are of course refused sale of these items.

Rob Hattersley, manager of Safeside Co-op works to deliver important messages on restricted goods such as tobacco and alcohol, along with financial awareness, crime, and environmental issues, through a range of interactive activities which engage the children in experiential learning. He says that the biggest programme is for primary schools. Children are escorted around the scenarios for a two hour tour covering fire, road, water, internet and travel safety, to name but a few.

Would you like to volunteer as a guide and deliver this essential safety education? Safeside have a wide range of volunteers, from 16 year olds gaining work experience, to part time workers who enjoy using spare time in an interesting way, to retired people who want to give something back and enjoy the social aspect of volunteering.

Those who are interested should contact the Volunteers Co-ordinator, Janet Wilson on 0121 380 6429 or email Further details can be found online at