Bullying is something that affects so many people and I’d go as far as to say that sadly almost everybody will experience it in some form and at one point in their life. I spent the first seventeen years of my life being a victim to bullying, I was embarrassingly shy, spoke with a lisp, never made eye-contact, felt crippling insecure and was frequently called names, sworn at, spat at, hit and chased by groups of children because they said that I was ugly and an easy target. Fortunately it was something that I recovered from and I have gained such enormous strength and self-worth with age which I am thankful for. However others sadly deal with such abuse in horrifying ways, from self-harming to suicide and it breaks my heart to think that such behaviour can still exist in society.
Bullies Out is an anti-bullying charity with a vision to help individuals to recognise their self-worth and potential in life. They provide a positive, caring environment that is free from oppression and abuse to increase self-esteem, empower and encourage potential in all. They proudly centre themselves upon positive engagement, integrity, respect, inclusivity, empowerment and responsibility to allow everybody affected by bullying to have the opportunity to speak out. The charity sets out to equip children and young people with the understanding of what constitutes bullying and provide them with the skills and self-esteem to identify and report bullying incidents assisting in prevention whilst improving emotional health and wellbeing. Since 2006 over 7,500 children have participated in Bullies Out workshops, 900 have been trained as Peer Mentors and 750 professionals have been trained in awareness sessions.
At the age of 28 I now have two children of my own who are of school age and it is a major concern of mine that I prevent them from falling victim to bullies just as I did. During my time at school the rules were very different to how they are today, bullying wasn’t seen as a priority for children’s wellbeing but more of an inconvenience to a stressful and time-constrained syllabus. If a child swore, threw things across the room, hit a peer or openly bullied in class they would either be shouted at by a teacher, told to wait outside or given an after school detention and the matter forgotten. I didn’t receive support, help or guidance for what I went through and I believe this is something that I would have gladly accepted if I’d been given the opportunity when I was younger. As a result of bullying I withdrew myself socially and emotionally from others, I hid indoors and had very low self-esteem that I carried into my late teens which only began to subside when I went to college.
From having been bullied for being ugly I then became a model at the age of 18 which totally changed my life. Today I aim to motivate, inspire and encourage health and happiness in others, to reach for the stars and achieve your dreams whilst giving something positive back to the world which is why I have fundraised £1,000.00 for Bullies Out in support of their incredible work and I would like to thank everybody who donated towards this. Having successfully reached my target for fundraising I have now completed my first half marathon of 21km in 1hr 37mins to honour my sponsorship and highly encourage you to take on a fitness challenge in support of a charity you feel passionate about; not only will the challenge improve your health, fitness, determination and self-confidence but the money raised can also make such a huge difference to others and in extreme cases save lives.
If I could turn back the clock and give my younger self, and you all words of advice during torment from bullies I would say: Keep your chin up and know that you are worth so much more than the way others treat you. Speak to a teacher, friend, parent or professional who can help to address the way you are being treated and take positive steps together to resolve the situation. You can be anything you want in life, never allow negative options and hurtful words to dim your light. Finally to those who mercilessly bullied me as a child I hope that you too have found peace, happiness and confidence in life, that you recognise the error of your ways and have respect towards others. Children, teenagers and adults alike can be cruel, selfish and close-minded but the best way to eradicate bullying is through awareness, education and giving everybody a voice. Please open your eyes to those around you who may be suffering, listen, encourage communication and help to change and potentially save a life.