Former Swindon New College student Sophie Thorne earns award for helping online victims
TEENAGER Sophie Thorne, who has been drawing on her experiences of being cyber-bullied to help others, has received a prestigious Diana Award in honour of her work.
Sophie, 18, was victimised anonymously via text messages and through a fake Facebook account.
The daily abuse escalated to death threats and made her feel so threatened she resorted to self-harm. Her tormentor turned out to be someone she had considered a good friend.
Now working with Fixers, a national charity which supports 16 to 25-year-olds to campaign on any issue they want as long as they help at least one other person, Sophie has made a film to show at schools and youth clubs.
It aims to encourage young people who are bullied online to speak up and seek help.
The Diana Award was established in 1999 as a lasting legacy to Diana, Princess of Wales’s belief that young people have the power to change the world.
Sophie said: “I am so happy. I want to use my experience to help stop other people going through the nightmare I did.
“This award makes me feel like I am making a difference, and that is exactly what I set out to do.”
Sophie was studying childcare and education at New College in 2011 when the bullying began.
“It started off with name calling, but soon escalated to personal threats such as, ‘I know when you are at home, I know when you’re alone’, and eventually led to death threats,” she said.
“A fake Facebook account had been created and at the height of it all I was receiving messages every five minutes or so.
“At that stage I had no idea who was targeting me or why, which made it more terrifying.”
Feeling like the abuse was never-ending, Sophie shut herself off from people, which led her to self-harming because she felt isolated.
Ultimately Sophie told her mum and college tutors about the messages. She then vowed to make young people, parents and teachers more aware of the seriousness of cyber-bullying.
Sophie arranged a screening of the film to an invited audience and has given presentations in primary schools. She is now approaching secondary schools across Swindon to use the film.
Margo Horsley, chief executive of Fixers, said: “We are extremely proud of Sophie and everything she has achieved.
“Receiving a Diana Award for her work shows just how far she has come and how much of a difference she is making to other people. Sophie wants to reach as many people as possible. She also wants to show that if you speak up you can overcome it and achieve your goals.”
Sophie now joins the Diana Network, a programme offering young people the opportunity to gain valuable life skills through internships and work placements in the UK.
You can watch Sophie’s film, Speak Up, by visiting www.
fixers.org.uk/news/5250 -11208/sophie-s-cyber-bullying -film-premiere.php