John (age 16) was bullied badly from a young age. It didn’t stop when he went to high school and he soon found himself a target for everyone, even people he had considered among his few friends. The effect it had on him was extremely serious – to the extent that at the worst points he considered suicide. If it hadn’t been for a few really supportive people, who knows what might have happened.

The situation was made worse by John’s dad leaving home, which left John feeling a huge amount of anger and resentment. He argued with his Mum constantly, felt abandoned by his Dad and was very stressed and emotional. The result was that John, who had been so badly bullied himself, now turned into a bully.  He realized that he could release all his anger,

aggression and frustration on someone else – and he did this on pretty much anyone who got in his way at school. He regularly bullied, lashed out and was verbally abusive. His behavior resulted in regular exclusions from school.  Finally, things got so bad he had to leave home.

Luckily, John found Close House Projects in Hereford, an organisation supported by the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation. Close House helps young people mature, be helpful and grow hungry for a full life. They aim to break the cycle of negative experience and behaviour that some young people face, helping them find hope and aspiration and enabling them to control the direction their own lives take.

The vast majority of the young people visiting Close House are vulnerable, disadvantaged and socially excluded. They often have mental health issues, have experienced abusive childhoods, homelessness and/or substance abuse, may have criminal records and are usually not in education, training or employment.  On paper they appear to have no prospects.

Close House is renowned for innovative, targeted and creative solutions tailored to individuals. Through a specific project focused on anti-bullying, Close House allowed John to creatively explore his personal experiences of bullying through film, animation and drama, which helped him develop a heightened understanding of the effects of bullying and develop more mature coping strategies.

John still regularly attends Close House drop in sessions, has his own accommodation and is holding down a full-time. By all accounts, he is a pleasure to know – a great character, courteous, and hard working.


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