Anti-Bullying #BeNiceBus visits Manchester

Anti-Bullying #BeNiceBus visits Manchester
The launch of the #BeNiceBus at Kingsdale Foundation School, Alleyn Park, London.Justin Goff

A ground-breaking anti-bullying bus tour designed to encourage thousands of young people to be nicer online is due to arrive in Manchester.

Stagecoach has teamed up with The Diana Award charity to launch the UK’s first and only #BeNiceBus. The Diana Award runs the leading Anti-Bullying Campaign in the UK and Ireland giving young people the skills, confidence and training to tackle all forms of bullying as Anti- Bullying Ambassadors.

The bus, which has been donated by Perth-based bus and rail operator Stagecoach, has embarked on a 12-month educational tour of schools across England, Scotland and Wales where it will reach thousands of school pupils as part of The Diana Award’s Anti- Bullying campaign.

This week it will deliver its ‘be nice online’ message to pupils at schools in Manchester, Chorlton and Bolton. During the innovative project, young people are being invited on board the refurbished bus to take part in an interactive session to encourage positive online behaviour and to warn of the consequences of cyberbullying.

They will also be given advice on the steps to take if they are experiencing online bullying. Following each session, pupils will also be invited to sign a ‘Be Nice’ pledge, marking their commitment to behave online in a way that will not cause offence or upset to others.

The Diana Award was set up in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, and her belief that young people have the power to change the world for the better. It is committed to fostering, inspiring and developing positive change in the lives of young people through practical social action.

Tessy Ojo, CEO of The Diana Award said: “At The Diana Award we know how powerful young people can be in tackling bullying behaviours both on and offline. We’re delighted to have the support of Stagecoach and to have launched this first anti-bullying #BeNiceBus during this 20th anniversary year as we remember Princess Diana’s values of kindness and compassion.

We are driving our message directly to schools, a place where young people spend 11,000 hours of their lives. We’re delighted that in partnership with Stagecoach we will have a real opportunity to change and shape thousands of attitudes and behaviour to bullying.”

The project is being funded by Stagecoach and has involved the interior refurbishment of a single deck bus to include a number of educational resources to help deliver the sessions. Content will be delivered through video, presentations and interactive sessions.

Stagecoach Manchester Managing Director Elisabeth said: “Most young people live their lives online these days, whether that’s using the wi-fi on the bus to school or checking emails and social media when they get home. This means they are better connected than any previous generation, but unfortunately, it can be another platform for bullying to take place.

“We’re delighted to be working with The Diana Award on this campaign and I really hope it helps make people think about their behaviour and take responsibility for their actions online.”

TV presenter Ferne McCann, who previously gained her bus driving qualification with Stagecoach, and actor Layton Williams, both feature in the videos to be shown on board the bus during the workshop sessions.

Ferne McCann said: “I’ve experienced first hand the impact that negative, hurtful online comments can have but I also know from experience that kind, supportive and positive comments can give you a real boost and make you feel great. Most people would never dream of trolling someone but there are people who seem to think they can say what they like online and almost forget that there’s a real person on the receiving end of their comments. I am totally behind this campaign and I really hope it will help young people across the country think even more carefully about what they are saying online and the impact it can have on others.”

Layton Williams added: “This project is so exciting and I really think it will help people think more carefully about what they are saying online – what might seem like cheeky banter to one person could actually have a lasting negative impact on the person it’s aimed at and I just think sometimes people forget that. I hope this campaign will help spread love and kindness and remind us that we all have a responsibility to be nice to each other, both online and in all parts of life.”

During this 20th Anniversary year, The Diana Award is actively seeking supporters to help the charity continue this youth legacy, in memory of Princess Diana, and expand their work that fosters change through positive action with young people. You can learn more about the award on their website.

Tom Harrison
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