Red Balloon 13/12/2011 #CharityTuesday

Bullying someone is such a despicable thing to do and the effects of it can remain for many years after the bullying has stopped. It can often go ‘un-noticed’ either because people turn a blind eye or because the victim feels too scared or even ashamed to speak out. Fortunately there are many anti-bullying campaigns and a greater awareness of the problem. Today, for #CharityTuesday, I’d like to hand you over to the Red Balloon Learner Centre Group to explain what they do:

Red Balloon was founded in 1996 by Dr Carrie Herbert when a parent of a thirteen year old girl, who had attempted suicide because of severe bullying, contacted her. Following that meeting Red Balloon was established, operating for over seven years in the founder’s house before moving to its own premises in central Cambridge.

Today there are five further Red Balloon Centre, in Norwich, NW London, Merseyside, Warwick and Reading, each with a capacity for fifteen eleven to seventeen year olds.  Children attend daily and receive a full-time education comprising 60% academic studies and 40% well being, counselling and the creative arts.  This has proved to be a successful programme and 95% of the children who stay longer than six weeks return to school, move on to college or find employment.

Until recently there have been no published estimates of how many children in the UK are unable to go to school because they have been badly bullied.  In 2010 Red Balloon commissioned the first national survey to ascertain the number of students absent from school because of bullying; the findings estimated that over 16,000 children aged between 11 and 15 are missing education.  Frightened, humiliated, ostracised, beaten up and threatened, they stay at home, often under their duvet.  Over time, away from education, with no social contact, their self esteem is further eroded and they become suicidal, self harming, depressed, often having to endure other problems such as post traumatic stress disorder, panic attacks, eating disorders and social phobias.  However, these children are eminently recoverable given the right environment and, if given an appropriate education and recovery programme, will go on to lead fulfilling and worthwhile lives.

Red Balloon has recovered over 180 in the past fifteen years.  This year across the centres we celebrated the recovery of 22 students, 14 of whom either returned to mainstream school or moved on to sixth form college, and three entered employment or apprenticeships.

Of the 60 exams taken by our students this year the students achieved 27 A* to C GCSE grades, 28 other GCSE grades and 5 Edexcel qualifications.  Without Red Balloon it is unlikely these students would have gained any qualifications.

This year Red Balloon has launched a new initiative called Red Balloon of the Air, a virtual Red Balloon which provides distance learning, a virtual world, one to one tuition and on-the-ground support from a local teacher.  New Centres are planned for Braintree, Greater Manchester, the North East and South Yorkshire.

You can follow Red Balloon on twitter – @RedBalloonLCG

Or visit their website