A PIRATE ship initiative to help tackle social isolation has launched at a school.

The vessel was donated to St Pius X School in Barrow by a mental health fundraising initiative.

Known as the 'friend-ship', it was given to pupils at the school by fundraiser Dan Webber, who raises money under his Kick Off 4 Mental Health organisation.

The idea behind the ship, in the infant play area, is that the school will be able to help children make new friends by using a ‘buddy bus stop system’.

Kick Off 4 will also supply a friend-ship stop sign that will allow anyone who is playing on their own or would like to join others they don’t usually play with, to wait there and staff or other pupils encourage them to join in.

The fully-finished ship is now in action following its previous official unveiling by Mind in Furness.

It is the first trial of the maritime-themed initiative.

It is hoped that the trial will enable Kick Off 4 to see how successful it is and adapt the project .

The ultimate aim is to work with a number of other schools in the area on the initiative.

Dan Webber, founder of Kick Off 4 said: “Promoting positive relationships is massive to young people and can have brilliant effects on mental well-being.

“Young people’s mental well-being is paramount and we need to encourage confidence as well as positive relationships.

“This is a step towards that.”

Kevin McGoldrick, headteacher at St Pius X, said: “I think this is a fantastic project.

“We have worked closely with Dan and Kick Off 4 in the past.

“We had a pirate ship in our play area but it has come to the end of its life and was quite old.

“Dan contacted us with this great idea.

“We do occasionally get a child who’s friends might be ill or they’ve had a falling out so for them to be able to stand at the sign and make new friends is great.

“In schools we are getting children young and younger who feel down. We need more things about mental health in schools to help these children to realise it’s OK to feel this way.”