Hi, my name is Ryan Richardson, and I am the Anti-Bullying Officer at Middlesbrough College. I found myself running for this position because of my experience of being bullied at school and of past experiences seeing my closest friends harm themselves over being bullied too.

This week has been Anti-Bullying Week, and I am extremely proud that here at Middlesbrough College, we have been making the most of this week by taking part in various different activities to highlight the message.

Odd socks day and a charity football match helped bring students and staff together, and the college also designed a ‘One Kind Word’ board for people to pin one kind word of help and faith to help those who are struggling with bullying.

My experiences of bullying were bad. I suffered from physical attacks which led to me being afraid to attend school. This made my attendance and academic achievements dip in form, which also led to me getting into trouble with the head teacher and eventually my parents too.

I suffered badly from mental issues such as anxiety and even depression too, but I reached out and found the help when I needed it most. Luckily, I didn’t ever get to the point where I wanted to harm myself as a coping mechanism and I will be forever grateful for the people at Conyers who helped me overcome my fears of going into school, achieve half decent grades and be more socially confident. Also, without the help of those awesome guys, I wouldn’t be here writing this today.

Another thing I would like to make people aware of, is the impact of bullying on a mental scale. I am incredibly lucky that I did not reach the point of no return but there are a lot of people who reach this point without help. I would like to make people aware and speak out against this and get the help they deserve before they end up in a serious position which nobody wants to be in.

I asked some of my amazing helpers why they hate bullies and why they participate in this movement with me.

“Bullies are pathetic at all ages. I want to help those in need because violated by bullies on several different occasions at school.” Joe

“Bullies are cowardly, and I don’t see the point in picking on others because of who they are… at the end of the day, we are all people. Stop bullying!” George

“I want to make people aware that we are here for them when they need us. Just get in touch with the college wellbeing people and they will direct you to us!” Mads

“There are always people you can talk to. Don’t let bullies dictate your future. Bring the best out of every day by being proud of who you are!” – Jacob

So there we have it. I am so proud to have these people behind me and supporting me in this role, together we can kick bullying out. Together, we can achieve real change… for good.

The Anti-Bullying Alliance is a coalition of organisations and individuals that are united against bullying.

It has a simple list of calls to action:

Ask if someone’s OK. Say you’re sorry. Just say hey.

In a world that can sometimes feel like it’s filled with negativity, one kind word can provide a moment of hope. It can be a turning point. It can change someone’s perspective. It can change their day. It can change the course of a conversation and break the cycle of bullying.

Best of all, one kind word leads to another. Kindness fuels kindness. So from the playground to Parliament, and from our phones to our homes, together, our actions can fire a chain reaction that powers positivity.

It starts with one kind word. It starts today.

Find more advice, resources and support at https://anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk/