Schools urged to sup­port the bat­tle against big­otry

MSP and na­tional char­ity join forces

Rutherglen Reformer - - News - Niki Ten­nant

A call has gone out to schools in Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang to stand up and be counted in the bat­tle against sec­tar­i­an­ism.

Pro­lific anti-sec­tar­ian char­ity, Nil by Mouth, says pupils and teach­ers in the Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang area are among the most ac­tive anti-big­otry cam­paign­ers in Scot­land.

They are ap­peal­ing to schools, col­leges and com­mu­nity projects to make an ap­pli­ca­tion to a small grants fund to help them run anti-sec­tar­ian ini­tia­tives in the area.

As part of its work, schools, col­leges and com­mu­nity groups are be­ing en­cour­aged to ap­ply for up to £10,000 in small grants from the Sense Over Sec­tar­i­an­ism part­ner­ship to fund projects aimed at build­ing bridges be­tween young peo­ple from dif­fer­ent re­li­gious and cul­tural back­grounds.

James Kelly MSP has writ­ten to ev­ery school in the area, invit­ing them to ap­ply and of­fer­ing to sup­port their work.

Nil by Mouth was founded by Glas­gow teenager Cara Hen­der­son af­ter the bru­tal sec­tar­ian mur­der of her friend Mark Scott in 1995. Since then it has cam­paigned tire­lessly against sec­tar­i­an­ism both on, and off, the ter­races. As part of its cam­paign­ing Nil by Mouth helped set up Sense over Sec­tar­i­an­ism (SoS) in 2001 and now sits on its part­ner­ship board along with rep­re­sen­ta­tives from football clubs and faith com­mu­ni­ties.

Call­ing for lo­cal schools to sign up to the cam­paign, MSP James said: “We are all keen to tackle the scourge of sec­tar­i­an­ism in Scot­land, and fo­cus­ing ef­forts on ed­u­ca­tion work is para­mount to this.

“Sev­eral lo­cal schools have al­ready been work­ing with Nil By Mouth and I’ve seen first- hand the ex­cel­lent re­sults of that part­ner­ship, with the ma­jor­ity of the lead­er­ship and aware­ness com­ing from the pupils them­selves. Over the last few years SoS has dis­trib­uted hun­dreds of thou­sands of pounds to projects and through these we have seen real and last­ing change take place. I am en­cour­ag­ing lo­cal groups to ap­ply for up to £10,000 through the scheme.

“SoS also has a spe­cial small grant fund which al­lows groups to com­plete a sim­ple form and ap­ply for up to £750 al­low­ing schools to pur­chase ed­u­ca­tional re­sources or projects to or­gan­ise spe­cial one off events aimed at pro­mot­ing tol­er­ance.”

Nil By Mouth cam­paign di­rec­tor Dave Scott added: “Ev­ery­one has a part to play in rid­ding Scot­land of big­otry and through the ‘Sense over Sec­tar­i­an­ism’ grant fund we can sup­port grass roots work aimed at bring­ing peo­ple to­gether and help­ing them bet­ter un­der­stand dif­fer­ence. We hope schools from Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang con­sider ap­ply­ing for sup­port from the part­ner­ship and help play their part in ban­ish­ing big­otry once and for all.”

The Cham­pi­ons for Change ini­tia­tive, which recog­nises best prac­tice in chal­leng­ing sec­tar­i­an­ism and get­ting schools work­ing to­gether, was launched at Stonelaw High School in 2012.

Trin­ity High School, Loch Pri­mary and St An­thony’s Pri­mary have each won awards un­der the scheme.

Trin­ity was ap­plauded for set­ting up a pupil- led task force to raise aware­ness of big­otry. It also held work­shops and ex­am­ined the role played by in­di­vid­u­als, schools, re­li­gious lead­ers, politi­cians and the media in tack­ling the is­sue.

Shake on it Dave Scott of Nil by Mouth with James Kelly MSP

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