Written by Lucy Gollogly
A group of young people from west Belfast have made two short films that turn the tables on cyber bullies.
The team of 16 to 18 year olds from Springmartin are using their own experiences to show trolls that they shouldn’t say things online just because they’re hiding behind a keyboard.
The teenagers are working with Fixers, a national charity which supports young people to ‘fix the future’ on any issue which matters to them.
The films will be featured on UTV Live at 6pm tonight and can be viewed here
They show an everyday scenario in which someone is being bullied, using the language that is frequently used online and then suggests: “If you don’t behave like this in real life, don’t behave like this online.”
Fixer Charmaine Bickerstaff, 17, whose friend suffered at the hands of cyberbullies, said: “Some of the negative comments that were posted were making fun of how she looked and telling her to kill herself.
“These people are keyboard warriors who don’t realise that what they say online can affect people in real life.”
Fixer Andrew Tinsley, 16, added: “We want victims to get help and the bullies to think twice before they post a comment online.”
Donna McCracken, Youth Development Worker at the Black Mountain Action Group, attended a screening of the Fixers film.
“If you asked the young people within the group that have just done this video, most of them, if not all will have had an experience where they’ve been bullied online or when someone has said something to them that has made them feel uncomfortable, or upset or sad.”
Fixers is a charity that supports young people across the UK to take action on any issue they feel strongly about. How each Fixer tackles their chosen issue is up to them – as long as they benefit someone else.
The project has already supported nearly 10,500 young people across the UK to have an authentic voice in their community.
Now, thanks to a £7.2m grant from the Big Lottery Fund, Fixers aims to work with a further 19,000 young people in Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales over the next three years.
Frank Hewitt, Big Lottery Fund’s NI Chair, said: “The Big Lottery Fund is extremely proud to be supporting Fixers to engage with more young people to change things for the better.
“Fixers has a tremendous potential – one young person’s initial idea can be transformed into reality, spread across a community and make a positive influence on a wide range of people. There are thousands of young people campaigning to make improvements in their neighbourhoods and Fixers provides a platform to highlight their voluntary work and many achievements.”
Read more about Fixers on the website http://www.fixers.org.uk