RADIO ONE broadcaster Arielle Free gave her support to NSPCC Scotland last week by helping to deliver the charity’s groundbreaking Speak Out Stay Safe assembly at a Stirling school.

Arielle, 32, originally from Stirling, joined volunteers at Borestone Primary School in the St Ninians area of the city to see the NSPCC deliver the service.

The special assemblies, which the NSPCC runs in primary schools, help children to recognise different types of abuse and to feel confident about speaking out to a trusted adult or to Childline.

Research from the leading children’s charity shows that on average at least two children in every primary school classroom across the UK will have suffered some form of abuse or neglect.

NSPCC Scotland began the assemblies in Scotland in 2012 and since then its staff and team of dedicated volunteers have spoken to tens of thousands of school children the length and breadth of the country. ‘Speak Out Stay Safe’ helps ensure children understand what abuse is and know how to keep themselves safe.

Arielle, who also starred in Harry Potter as a Beauxbatons student, attended nearby St Ninians Primary School in Stirling as a child before going to secondary school at the Dance School of Scotland in Glasgow. She is a fully trained dancer and ballerina and hosts the ITV children’s morning show ‘Scrambled’.

Arielle decided to support the NSPCC after being bullied as a teenager at secondary school.

She said: “I’ve always been aware of the vital work of the NSPCC to enable children to have the confidence to speak out when something isn’t right.

“Without this work, so many children would be lost, and I feel like the NSPCC and Childline do so much for children who are experiencing bullying or abuse, or any sort of mental hardship.

“I had a lot of challenges through secondary school as I went to a dance school that was mixed with a mainstream school. There was quite a lot of bullying and I had a brief spell of bulimia and anorexia because of this.

“Bullying can have a real damaging mental effect on you, and it is so important to tell someone. When I was being bullied I didn’t know what to do. It took a lot of courage to tell someone and I decided to confide in my teacher which really helped as they were able to support me and resolve the issue. The minute you do tell someone, there is such an instant relief that you no longer have to keep that secret to yourself.”

In 2017/2018 more than 146,000 primary school pupils across Scotland received the Speak Out Stay Safe service in 918 schools. More than 3,200 children were reached in 25 schools across the Stirling area.

Arielle added: “It was great to come back to Stirling and come along to Borestone Primary School and witness the work the NSPCC do in schools through Speak Out Stay Safe.

“I have always grown up with support from my family, and I think it’s important to support a charity such as the NSPCC, especially as working on ‘Scrambled’ where I have a large audience of children.

“I do think that Childline is a great way to tell someone what’s been going on, whether it’s by an email, online chat or by the phone. It allows young people to communicate something that has been happening to you them anonymously without having to shout it from the rooftops.”

Cllr Susan McGill, convenor of Stirling Council’s Children and Young People Committee, said: “It was great to have NSPCC Scotland back at Borestone Primary.

“Their work with children throughout the country is invaluable and we’ve already welcomed the Speak Out Stay Safe assembly to every primary school across Stirling.

“As a Council, it’s our responsibility to ensure our children receive a well-rounded education and we believe that the message of speaking out to stay safe is just as important as learning to read and write.”

Our Childline service provides a safe, confidential place for children whenever they need help. Children can contact Childline on 0800 1111 or 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.