11-year-old Shannon faced bullying at school and found it difficult to speak out about what was happening

As a shy and quiet girl, she found that she was the target of one particular bully who then encouraged other students to be mean to her.

I had jokes made about me and I was called fat. My glasses were broken. No one helped and I didn’t really tell anyone. I was called ‘fat, bisexual and transgender’ and everyday people would say things that would hurt me inside.


Young girl smiling and standing in front of children's art

Shannon began having regular one-to-one counselling sessions with Kat, a counsellor at her local service, Harrow Horizons. Each week after school Shannon visited Harrow Horizons at its colourful and child-friendly building on 21 Pinner Road where she would be able to talk about her feelings and receive support. Shannon said: "Coming to Harrow Horizons helped me to have more of a voice so I could speak to someone and explain how I felt."

Kat helped me to understand that it’s not true the nasty things people say. She was really nice and did things to help such as activities, where I could paint how my life felt, and then paint what I wanted my life to feel like. We also used different cards placed on a table to explain how I felt and the reasons why."


Finding a voice again

The six one-to-one sessions with Kat helped increase Shannon’s confidence and resilience. Shannon said: “When people are unkind to me at school I try to move away from them and keep my distance. If someone does say something to me, I try to either tell them that it doesn’t affect me as much anymore or I speak to someone.

Shannon said: “Right now I can cope better, but there are still bits and pieces which happen at school that sometimes can make me more upset than others.

“For other young people who are experiencing problems at school, I think it’s important for them to know that there is always someone out there that can help you. Don’t be embarrassed to speak to them because doing so can help you. Even if the bullying doesn’t stop straight away; it will in the end”.

Harrow Horizons is a brilliant service and I can’t thank them enough. Although Shannon still does experience bullying at school, she is a lot more different now and I’ve been given tips to help her. Before she started at Harrow Horizons, even on stage you could tell something was wrong, but now she is a changed person and gradually building up her confidence again.”


Shannon's mum

A star in the making

Shannon has ambitions to be an actor. She told us: "I really like acting and when I’m older I would like to be in movies. At the moment, I’m doing theatre and I’ve been in productions like Annie and Oliver.

In March 2019, Shannon was one of several young people to attend a special Barnardo’s screening of the film ‘Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle’ at the Everyman Cinema in Hampstead.

Shannon said: “It was an amazing experience to meet the director Andy Serkis. Acting helps me to express my feelings in a different way. When I’m on stage, I don’t think about what’s happened that day at school, I can just have fun and think about not being myself but a different person. Barnardo’s has helped me to build up my self-esteem and become more confident in myself. Everyone at Harrow Horizons is really friendly and they can help you in lots of different ways”. 

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