A five-armed friend is back on beaches in Lincolnshire this summer lending an extra hand to families to help keep their children safe.
The Sandi the Starfish scheme, (which first launched in Norfolk in 2014), helps reunite parents and children if they become separated.
The idea came from PCSO Sandi Greenacre who was a member of the Hunstanton team before she sadly died in 2013.
She had developed the idea of having a recognisable character on a flag as a meeting point for families.
The scheme was adopted in Lincolnshire last year by Sergeant Amy Searby.
A large flag is displayed next to the RNLI lifeguard tower on the beach when it is staffed, which is a recognised point of safety for children to go to should they get lost or become disorientated.
The meeting point can also be easily recognisable for vulnerable adults who come to enjoy the seaside with their carers.
This scheme also provides special ‘Sandi the Starfish’ wristbands for children to wear. The wristbands have a space on which to write a parent’s mobile phone number.
These are already available from RNLI crew/lifeguards, Tourist Information at the Embassy Centre, and Meridian Leisure and now other businesses are making them available from their sites.
The initiative has been joint funded in a number of ways - by revenue generated from Proceeds of Crime activity and supplied by Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones, and with input from Mablethorpe and Sutton Town Council and Coastal Community Challenge, Skegness Town Council and Ingoldmells Parish Council.
This joint funding demonstrates how on the East Coast, partners are working together to ensure this extra safety measure is available for everyone who visits the Lincolnshire coast.
Police and Crime Commissioner, Marc Jones said: “I am delighted to support this fantastic initiative which offers extra security and peace of mind to families over the summer.
“The money I will be providing to buy the wristbands is a small price to pay for the extra protection it will provide for children and vulnerable adults.
“I would urge all families to take advantage of the scheme and while, of course, we hope they will never be needed any project which enables police officers to quickly unite lost loved ones with their families is to be applauded.”
Lincolnshire Police’s top tips for a safe and happy day at the beach:
*Designate a meeting spot and make sure the whole family knows to go there and wait if you are separated. A Sandi the Starfish flag is located on the sea front and is designed to be seen by children from a distance. Show your child the picture of Sandi so they know what to look for.
*Tell your child that if they get separated from you, they should go to the flag where they can wait for you or ideally approach someone in uniform, and tell them they are lost.
*Use a Sandi the Starfish wristband. Write your phone number on the inside of the wristband so you can be contacted if your child is found.
*Keep an up-to-date photo of them on your phone to show to officers so they know who they are looking for. Ideally take on a phone or a digital camera when you arrive at the beach to show exactly what they are wearing. It’s vital to remember what they are wearing! Bright, eye catching clothing is ideal.
Any local business wishing to participate in the scheme can contact Sgt Searby by calling 101.