Alumni: Hannah’s Story

When my parents contacted my old school about me being bullied, the school denied anything was wrong. My parents were told that I needed to become less sensitive to ‘banter’, ‘just get on with things’ and maybe if I smiled more I would make friends.

The school said that in actual fact other kids were scared of me because the people who bullied me spread rumours that I wanted to stab people. I was told to apologise, as the bullies told the school that I was the one bullying them. Even when I was physically attacked, the school did nothing. I didn’t feel that I got any support from my school.

I was struggling at the time with my home situation. I was finding it very difficult to cope with serious illness and disability in family members, it put so much pressure on me and I received no help or understanding whatsoever from the school.

When I left school I was so traumatised by what happened that I was suicidal. I didn’t leave my room for months. I refused to even contemplate getting back into education, because I thought that it was just another way of getting me back into the same situation.

Little did I know, Red Balloon was about to save my life.

I honestly don’t know what I would do without the counselling sessions. I got a 45 minute counselling session every week called wellbeing. It was a time that I could be honest about how I was feeling and what I was struggling with. My counsellor arranged extra sessions if I was feeling particularly low. My worst fear was falling behind academically, so my learning was really important to me.

The lessons that I was offered at Red Balloon were great, I could keep learning and I could begin to see a future for myself. I remember thinking that I was clever enough to go to college and university. I sat my GCSEs and thanks to my teachers I was on track to achieve good grades.

At Red Balloon, I had a place where I finally belonged. I had friends that weren’t going to turn on me and bully me, or talk about me behind my back. I was safe at Red Balloon, at the Satellite Centre when I went once a week for social activities. I didn’t feel alone and scared anymore. I didn’t attempt suicide or hurt myself any more. People that haven’t been bullied cannot possibly understand how essential it is to belong to a community.

In school I was an outcast, but at Red Balloon, I had a place and I knew that I would always have friends, friends that understood me and liked me for the person that I was.

Children like me deserve an education. I loved learning and I wanted nothing more than to learn and succeed in life. I’m so thankful to Red Balloon for giving me my future back.

Support students like Hannah at Red Balloon of the Air