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Safely does it as pupils' film wins national plaudits

 09 March 2015  |  

A film produced by South Ayrshire youngsters to raise awareness of stalking and how to keep children and young people safe and protected from harm has scooped a prestigious national safety award. 

Friend Request,a film  written and developed by senior pupils from all eight South Ayrshire Council secondary schools, won the Early Intervention and Education category of the Scottish Safer Communities awards.

The film tells the story of a young girl who accepts a friend request from a fellow pupil on a social media site which then develops into something much more sinister. 

Friend Request, following two different storylines – one where the main character asks for help to deal with the situation and one where she doesn't take any action, leading to a very different outcome. 

The project was a collaboration led by South Ayrshire Multi-Agency Partnership (MAP) to tackle Violence Against Women and Children and the South Ayrshire Child Protection Committee. 

Councillor Ann Galbraith, who chairs the MAP, accepted the award at a ceremony in Glasgow and said: "What a fantastic award for a truly excellent project. 

"This is an excellent achievement that recognises work that has been undertaken in South Ayrshire by young people to help educate their peers on keeping safe.  

"Since it premiered in December 2013, Friend Request has quickly become an extremely useful educational resource, helping and encouraging young people to open up to someone they know and trust if they are worried about their safety, or that of someone they know. 

"It's a clever and innovative way to engage with young people and raise awareness of issues such as stalking, intimidation and cyber-bullying." 

Councillor Rita Miller who attended the award presentation on behalf of the South Ayrshire Community Safety Partnership, which supported the making and development of Friend Request added: "The film started out after a school stalking awareness session and the young people really got behind it and made it their own. 

"The final product is a fantastic resource to help raise awareness of stalking and abusive behaviour and I'm delighted it has received this national recognition." 

During development and production, Friend Request benefited from the expertise of prominent anti-stalking campaigner Ann Moulds, who acted as an adviser to pupils, working with campus police officers from Police Scotland.  

She said: "Friend Request is a fantastic resource that I hope will reach well beyond the boundaries of South Ayrshire to help raise awareness of stalking and, more importantly, the ways you can keep yourself safe from stalking and cyber-stalking. 

"I'll certainly be making sure as many people as possible know about this and I applaud the young people for doing such a fabulous job."

Councillor Galbraith concluded: "Friend Request is a must see film for every young person and is a superb testament to the pupils' efforts. They should be very proud of this well-deserved recognition for their brilliant work."

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