An Angus schoolgirl’s anti-bullying work has led to her recruitment by a national charity to help it prevent child abuse.
Rachel Talbot, 14, is one of just 15 teenagers from the around the UK on the NSPCC’s new Young People’s Board for Change.
The Brechin High School S3 pupil, who experienced bullying in primary school, played a pivotal role in developing the Think B4 You Type campaign with the NSPCC and charity respectme.
Her work with fellow members of the Angus youth advisory group persuaded Angus Council to change its anti-bullying policy.
Rachel will play a defining role with the NSPCC, helping to shape and influence its work as the UK’s leading child protection charity.
She and 14 fellow board members, aged between 13 and 16, will raise awareness of what matters most to young people and advise staff and trustees.
Her appointment comes at a critical time during the pandemic, with the charity’s Childline service having delivered more than 61,000 counselling sessions on mental health since the beginning of lockdown last March.
Rachel, of Friockheim, who aspires to be a children’s rights lawyer, was due to speak with her fellow board members online for the first time yesterday.
She told us: “I honestly can’t wait to work with people that are passionate about the same things as I am.
“I have a background in anti-bullying work and I’d really like to do more of that, but I am happy to get involved in whatever projects are going to change things for children and young people across the UK.”
Working with the Angus group on the Think B4 You Type initiative had, she said, reinforced her belief that “young people can make a difference and change things”.
She said: “We have a lot of really important opinions and solutions – we just need help and support to be heard and, and to a certain extent, be taken seriously.
“I’d love to take the things I’ve learned from this advisory group to a bigger platform and make a difference for young people outside my local area and think that this board is a perfect opportunity to be able to do that.”
Rachel said it was vital that young people’s opinions on the issues which affect them are heard, particularly amid the pandemic when they had been affected in many different ways.
She said: “I’m really lucky that this has been alright for me but some children won’t be so lucky and lockdown can be really, really hard for them.”
The NSPCC has called upon UK governments to put young people at the centre of recovery plans and ensure their views and experiences are listened to.
Over two years its youth board members – recruited from over 300 applicants – will take part in residentials, meetings, workshops and campaigns to share their views and opinions.
Young people should not be defined by the pandemic.”
Lucy Read, NSPCC
Lucy Read, NSPCC associate head of participation, said: “The last year has changed the lives of many young people across the UK but, as we now look to the future, the new members of our Young People’s Board for Change have a great opportunity to make their voices heard.
“We believe that a generation of young people should not be defined by the pandemic, so it has never been more important to listen to them and embed their views into everything we do.
“Children are the experts on their own lives, and there is so much that we can learn from their experiences.”