An interview with Finola Pickwell, the ‘Bridgend Says End Bullying’ youth development worker, on eradicating bullying in the Bridgend county borough.
“46% of young people are bullied at some point during school!” exclaimed FInola Pickwell, the ‘Bridgend Says End Bullying’ youth development worker, to a room of 138 school children. The ‘Bridgend Says End Bullying’ organisation Finola works for is a lottery funded project that aims to fundamentally reduce bullying and oppression of 11-25 year olds in the Bridgend county borough. They can only reduce bullying by raising awareness of the consequences of it, and that is why they hold an annual anti-bullying conference, which consists of speeches, videos, games and information from other local organisation such as ‘Bridgend Women’s Aid’ and ‘MEIC Helpline’, for school children in years 7, 8 and 9.
After Finola finished her speech I got to ask her what the state of bullying was really like in the Bridgend area. “Terrible…absolutely terrible!” she exclaimed whilst shaking her head in disapproval. She explains that there is not much information about bullying on secondary schools curriculums, “Issues surrounding bullying are supposed to be taught during the schools PSE lessons. Instead the staff and student treat these sessions as free periods…therefore, children are not getting the knowledge they need. This is even worse when it comes to primary schools!” I remembered that BSEB only help 11-25 year olds and asked her why they do not help children in primary school. She stated that “Sadly, we can’t specialise in helping everyone… and as serious bullying is less common in primary school the teachers are well equipped with dealing with issues that may come about”.
Finola went on to hand me a leaflet from the NSPCC. I noticed it said that 38% of young people had been bullied on the internet, so I asked her whether cyber bullying was a big problem in Bridgend. “That is why bullying has become a bigger problem, because there is so many different types, like homophobia and racial abuse. Cyber bullying is defiantly on the increase in Bridgend as today children as young as four have mobile phones and computers” Finola explains.
Whilst chatting I could hear a roar of cheer from the room next door and it reminded me that the conference was taking place. This made me ask Finola what BSEB was trying to achieve by holding these conferences. “We want to raise awareness of the consequences of bullying to everyone, the victims, the offenders and the bystanders, to try and reduce the amount of bullying in the Bridgend area. We also want to bring to everyone’s attention that there are people who can help, when they feel that teachers or parents can’t do anything there is us and other similar organisations” explains Finola.
Finally, I wanted to know as a whole what the organisation was doing to try and reduce bullying in Bridgend. Finola explained that BSEB, with the help of other organisations, are working to try and eradicate all types of bullying, “Bullying mainly happens in schools so we visit schools in the area, hold workshops and conferences and take school children on day trips to try and empower them. We also help, inform and support 16 to 25 year olds who have experienced bullying in a work place…and we also raise awareness of bullying to young offenders in Parc prison through our ‘Triple B’ scheme. We try to help everyone we can!”
There is little doubt that bullying in Bridgend or beyond may never be eradicated, but with this being BSEB’s most successful conference to date, with 138 children and 58 adults in attendance, they along with many others are certainly trying their best to help.