Bullying and the importance of being kind

5th June 2022

Bullying can happen anywhere – at school, at home or online. The effects of bullying can last into adulthood, and at its worst, has driven children and young people to self-harm and even suicide.

Counsellor, Maryann Liddle, was motivated to set up the charity, Spiral, in 2016 after her brother, who has learning difficulties, was bullied. Based in Carlisle, the charity aims to help victims build up their confidence and form new relationships, manage their stress levels and remove thoughts and feelings of isolation.

Spiral supports around 500 young people each year, by offering a free confidential service to build resilience and reduce the effects that bullying can have.

One-to-one support usually lasts over 6 -10 weeks and can be extended if needed. During this time, a mental health worker will keep in regular contact with the young person’s family. Once the support sessions have finished, information on how to continue supporting the young person to build resilience at home can be provided.

The service is available for young people aged 8-18 and up to age 25 for those with learning difficulties and vulnerabilities. The charity also works with Cumbria Youth Alliance (CYA) as part of the online ‘peer support community platform’ and offers downloadable seminars on cyber bullying through the ‘every mind matters’ project.

The charity recently expanded into West Cumbria and received £4,944 from the #CanDo Fund to extend the peer support offer through the online platform, called Discord. The funding employed a young person named Sol who was supported by volunteer mentors, all aged under 25. Sol delivered group sessions in various youth settings, ran online group discussions and a weekly games night, and began a podcast focused on bullying.

Sol previously had no experience working with young people but has decided that he wants to become a youth worker and is now undertaking a Level 2 Youth Work Qualification.

Maryann said: “Young people have felt more informed on what they can do to support someone being bullied. This is beneficial to the wider community as the aim of the discussions was to encourage young people to think about how they respond to people who are not a part of their social group. The online peer community has resources, information, and staff to talk to, this supports young people at the very early stages.”

The project finished in November 2021 and was such a success, Spiral is  continuing the project using its own funds.