Linda James was so badly bullied that she left school without sitting her exams and developed an eating disorder. But out of adversity she launched a group that is now helping other victims. Read her blog below:
Six years ago I had a dream and that dream was to help and support young people and their families who were affected by bullying. As a result of my dream, BulliesOut was established.
Having been there myself (both as someone who was bullied and the parent of a child who was bullied), I knew how the effects of this cruel act could have a detrimental affect on a person. As a result of my bullying, I developed an eating disorder at 14 and left school without sitting my final exams. This impacted negatively on my life for the next 20 years. Today, although re-educated and now with qualifications, I am not without emotional and physical scars. I still remember feeling ‘stupid’ whenever I spoke to people about education and quite often shied away from answering the dreaded question, ‘how many exams did you sit then?’ Only over the past six years have I felt able to speak about what happened to me.
Bullying is such a taboo subject. More work needs to be done in schools and in youth organisations from a very early age and regularly repeated. Whilst many schools strive to implement anti bullying policies and respond to incidents, many young people fail to receive the emotional support they need.
Without support, a child who is experiencing bullying and the accompanying fear will not be able to consistently learn, retain information and be an active, engaged member of the school community. A child who is bullying may fail to understand the consequences of their behaviour, struggle to manage feelings of anger or other experiences that result in bullying behaviour.
We believe that learning is the foundation for life and can help raise confidence, self-esteem and motivate young people to achieve their aspirations and career choice. We recognise that barriers to learning, such as bullying, can prevent people from recognising and achieving their full potential. Our vision is for all young people to recognise their self-worth and potential and to flourish in a positive, caring environment free from oppression and abuse.
By ensuring that children and young people understand what constitutes as bullying and are equipped with the skills, confidence and self-esteem to report bullying incidents, we can improve their emotional health and well-being. Long term, this will positively impact on their ability to form positive relationships and improve their subsequent life chances.
Through the work of our core programmes, BulliesOut aims to provide children and young people with knowledge of bullying and how bullying can affect a person as well as empowering them to have self-belief, confidence and autonomy. BulliesOut is all too aware of the detrimental impact that bullying can have and has a strong belief that education from the youngest possible age will hold the best chance of eliminating a high percentage of bullying behaviour that currently exists throughout our society. All of our work with children and young people provides them with activities that reinforce the message that BulliesOut brings, which is that all young people have the right to receive their education in a safe, supportive and caring environment that is free from oppression and abuse.
As many of you know, setting up a charity isn’t easy. There is so much to do and so much you need … including a bottomless pot of money – and not the one at the end of a rainbow!! Of course, we all know a pot of money is hard to find, especially in this current economic climate. Since BulliesOut began, our workload continually increases and the charity has been led and run entirely by volunteers. We could not achieve all that we do without the dedication, hard work and commitment of our Trustees and Volunteers and I am honoured to work alongside such an amazing group of people.
However, volunteering is not ‘free’ and while the volunteers themselves might be unpaid, to enable them to assist an organisation to their fullest extent, they still require training, support, expenses and development.
Last year, we were lucky to achieve a grant from the National Lottery Community Fund’s Awards For All programme and this enabled us to recruit and train an additional 16 volunteers which has really helped with the delivery of our huge workload. We have been able to increase and strengthen our volunteer base and now have up to six volunteers based in our office on a regular basis who have personally developed and are able to take on roles with additional responsibility. Without this grant this would not have been possible and would have meant reducing the amount of work we deliver. BulliesOut has no salaried staff and is led and run entirely by volunteers.
Achieving the grant for a second year, will able us to further develop our volunteers (whilst recruiting more!) and also provide an accreditation in volunteering for them to work towards achieving. Volunteers are the life-blood of BulliesOut and it is vital we are able to further develop their skills and recognise their achievements.
All of us at BulliesOut know how important our work is and when it is verified by a third party (such as a funder or award) it is a fantastic accolade to the brilliant work we do and the fantastic team that deliver it.
Thank you Awards For All – you have made a huge difference, not only to BulliesOut but to the lives of many individuals.