UK: Student social enterprise aims to tackle bullying in schools

Portsmouth-based organisations wish to make sights like this less common in their city's playgrounds. Source:

Bullying is an issue in pretty much every school and college in the world. So often brushed off with ‘kids will be kids’, the consequences can be disastrous.

In the United Kingdom, Portsmouth-based student social enterprise Rock Clothing wants to change that. Headed by student Keiran O’Toole, Rock Clothing has organised an anti-bullying conference.

Schools in Portsmouth will rally together on January 30 to open a dialogue into bullying. The conference, to be held at Portsmouth Guildhall, will unite local schools in the hope of bringing about social change.

It will take a detailed look at bullying in schools, along with advice for students.

More than 700 students are expected to take part in the conference. It will inform and engage the schoolchildren by teaching them various methods to prevent children being bullied at school.

Together with Portsmouth City Council, AT&T, Portsmouth College, Paul Morrison and the Portsmouth Guildhall, Rock Clothing’s managing director and founder O’Toole is determined to make a difference in the UK’s schools.

He told The News Portsmouth: “We wanted to organise a conference and get as many students from Portsmouth involved as possible.

“The main objective of the event is to get young people actively involved in tackling bullying.

“It is something that I think is very important – I was bullied at school myself and just want to do something to help fight back against the problem.”

The day promises to be an enlightening experience for many pupils.

O’Toole is driven by his passion for social change. While studying full-time at Portsmouth College, he also works a part-time job at a local supermarket and runs Rock Clothing.

It is tiring, O’Toole admits, and “hard to juggle. […] But I manage: knowing I’m helping others is a motivation”.

He has hopes the conference will change things for the better.

“We want to improve the social lives of young people in Portsmouth,” said O’Toole on his Crowdfunder campaign.

“Our company is driven by tackling bullying. We work with local schools and youth groups facilitating anti-bullying workshops so the young people of today know there are people there for them.

“I want to make an impact on the young people in our schools; I want to give them the support, help and guidance that I didn’t get. I want to give them a shoulder to cry on, a poster to read and friend to play with. I want to give them everything that everyone deserves: attention.”

Rock Clothing has worked with more than 1,000 young people in the Portsmouth area, mostly through anti-bullying workshops in schools. They also organise one-to-one counselling sessions for any pupils who may be experiencing bullying.

O’Toole told Study International: “The main aim for the conference is to get young people actively involved in tackling bullying, whether that is through anti-bullying ambassador schemes, student councils or working with council professions.

“Students will hear stories from keynote speakers and watch a performance from a talent show-winning play.”

The students will have the opportunity to review their school’s anti-bullying strategy working with the leader of Portsmouth City Council. “Schools and individual students have the chance to nominate themselves for multiple of awards too,” O’Toole told Study International.

They will be able to “recognise their great work to tackle bullying and work together”.

O’Toole claimed it will improve both “the local strategy and their own in-school strategy on bullying”.

The conference will see speakers and performers from all over the UK inspire children to make a change and speak up.

“Our next steps after the conference are to host workshops and training in Portsmouth schools to build a cohort of young anti-bullying ambassador,” O’Toole told Study International.

“These ambassadors will be the forefront of tackling bullying in Portsmouth.”

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