Do you remember the Tufty Club? How about the Green Cross Code? Or that talking cat who warned you about stranger danger? The chances are that, if you were a child in the 1970s or 80s, these will have been a part of your early life, giving you sterling advice about the dangers of roads, railways and 'bad people'. Those safety campaigns were on during the adverts between children's TV programmes and set out what dangers were out there and how to avoid them.
Crucially, they appealed to a wide age range - older children and younger children alike were all left in no doubt that road and railway safety were matters that should be on our minds at all times when out and about. The campaign introduced the idea that, yes, we are mortal and one wrong move could spell disaster for us and our families.
These safety campaigns died out, yet there is far more traffic on the road than ever before, railway vandalism is rife, leaving gaps in fencing that make for handy cut-throughs for children, and children and teenagers have never been more vulnerable, thanks to the ever present technology in their hands and ears. How many times have you seen a child crossing a road without looking because they were texting or had earphones plugged in and couldn't hear you?
Stephen Turner of Turner Fine Arts ( and Art Manager to Phil Tufnell ) realised that, while the dangers to children in our environment have increased, children's awareness of those dangers seems to have decreased and he wondered if that might be to do with the lack of safety awareness training in everyday life, that campaigns like the Tufty Club used to address.
Turner Fine Arts decided to address this by creating Tufcat, a character who has the public backing and endorsement of cricketing legend and TV star Phil Tufnell. Tufcat's name is an amalgamation of 'Tufnell' and 'The Cat', which was Tufnell's nickname in his playing days.
Tufcat has his work cut out. In a series of safety campaign cartoon storyboards, Tufcat can be seen saving the day in different scenarios. But it's not all about road or railway safety for Tufcat - now children face a wider range of threats and need to be educated about the dangers of drugs, cyber-bullying, grooming, knife-crime and much more. These are all issues that are important to Phil Tufnell, who wanted to lend his support to the campaign to raise its profile.
Tufcat aims to highlight the dangers that lurk in modern society and teach children methods of managing them, in a way that doesn't patronise them or frighten them - simply by educating children to be aware of the dangers and how to avoid them, Tufcat will help keep children safe. It's hoped that Phil Tufnell's fame and persona will make Tufcat a household name in much the same way as Kevin Keegan and Jon Pertwee once made the Green Cross Code something we all listened to!
The project actively engages children by asking them for examples of situations that they have faced in real life, and reminds them that if they come across a situation that they can't solve themselves or that they feel that they can't talk to their parents or school about, they can always ask Tufcat for advice.
Tufcat is going to be promoted within schools in pilot projects across the country, and so far all feedback has been positive. Wonderstreet, one of the UK's largest online art and design platforms, is backing the venture by featuring the Tufcat campaign on their blog at www.wonderstreet.com passing on the vital messages of the campaign as well.