Last week (16th to 19th November) was Anti-Bullying Week, and social media and the news channels were highlighting the terrible impact it has on those involved and their families and friends. One family have chosen to share what they have been going through over the last year or so.
Finding Red Balloon
“Long-term bullying had a devastating effect on our son, resulting in him suffering from anxiety and then depression. In 2019 he began having suicidal thoughts and then acted upon those thoughts.
“After spending nearly three months in hospital, in March (2020) he started at a specialist school called Red Balloon, which helps children recover from bullying and resume their education. We owe so much to the amazing staff who work there.
“Once in the nurturing and safe environment they work so hard to create, he made huge progress. The teachers’ understanding, encouragement and never-wavering support played a huge part in helping him rebuild his self-esteem and confidence. It also helped him restore his faith and trust in teachers and other young people, which had been shattered because of how badly he had been treated. They also gave much-needed support to my husband and myself at a time when we were completely broken too.
“With Red Balloon’s help, along with his mental health team, our son has made an amazing recovery, and for that we will be forever indebted.
“Our son is an incredible young man who has shown immense strength and bravery, but he should never have been subjected to bullying in the first place. Schools like Red Balloon should not need to exist, but sadly they do.
“Despite the incredible work the teachers, mentors, therapists and other staff undertake every day, Red Balloon relies on charitable funding. Parents either need to raise the money to pay for the fees themselves or wait the months and sometimes years it takes for the local authority to agree to fund a place. In the meantime, these young people are suffering from either continued bullying, or miss out on education completely. So, we are sharing our story to raise awareness of the devastating effects of bullying. We also want to fundraise for Red Balloon to help other young people and to say thank you for helping our son rebuild his life and see the very bright future he has ahead of him.
“We initially set ourselves the challenge of walking one million steps in recognition of the one million children who are affected by bullying every year. In just a few days our team increased from four to seventeen so we have increased that challenge to ten million steps. We are hoping to complete this by 16th March, which will mark one year since our son’s first day at Red Balloon.”