Echo helpline aims to help fight Merseyside Bullies

The Echo’s 1st Sept Splash & The Campaign Poster

The Liverpool Echo is launching a helpline in Merseyside to cope with an increase of bullying cases.

The paper claims that Bully Busters is the only helpline in the country solely dedicated to the problems of bullying.

Set up as a free and confidential service, it was born after 18 months of planning and fundraising with the backing of all Merseyside education authorities.

At the start of the month, a team of specially trained staff began taking calls from victims, parents or people with information about bullying.

The Echo dedicated a splash and three pages to the campaign and printed 3,000 posters, which have been put up around schools in the area. Assistant editor Andy Edwards, who helped coordinate the service, is, said it is hop0ed that other newspapers in the Echo’s publishing group, Trinity Mirror, will follow suit and set up helplines elsewhere in the country.

“We often spread our best ideas throughout the group,” he said, “so we will see how successful this becomes and consider whether it can be taken to other Trinity titles.” The service aims to take some of the burden from ChildLine, which has recorded a marked increase in phone calls about bullying.

The region’s local education authorities, the TUC and the Safer Merseyside Partnership provided the majority of the £120,000 funding to run the scheme for its first year.

If it reaches its target number of calls, Bully Busters will become a permanent service for the children of Merseyside and will be funded in the same way.

Edwards said: “The thing that has struck me most is the enormous effort put in by so many people.

“Often newspapers and organisations will clash on issues like this, but we have found common ground and hit on a way of dealing with the problem together.” Echo editor Mark Dickinson added: “There are children in Merseyside who feel they have nowhere to turn. Now they have someone who will listen to their problems.”

Sarah Lagan

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