Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser
Dionne the doyen
Teenager reduced to tears by bully now helps victims cope
The isolation of last year underlined how little acts of kindness can break down barriers and brighten lives.
That’s why ‘One Kind Word’ was chosen as the theme of
Inspirational teenager Dionne Hossack doesn’t subscribe to the‘eye for an eye’ code of justice for the cruel bullies who taunted her as a schoolgirl.
Rather, the 19-year-old is channelling her energies into making a difference to people’s lives through a series of unparalleled experiences that prove she’s one to watch.
When Dionne, at the age of 13, developed a keen interest in politics, human rights and equality, that made her different in the eyes of her peers.
They poked fun at her, and called her ‘fat.’ While she admits that hurt, it was nothing compared to the humiliation she felt four years ago when a holiday snap of her and a friend was doctored and posted on social media.
The picture was faked to seemingly associate her with a this year’s Anti-bullying Week – a recent campaign coordinated by the Anti-bullying Alliance.
Here, a remarkable young Lanarkshire woman talks radical cause that couldn’t have been further removed from Dionne’s own ideology.
“Politics is a massive thing for me, and I worried about how this was going to affect me later on in life,” she explained.
“It was absolutely humiliating, and not who I am at all. I worried that people who didn’t know me would make a judgement, and that was a massive thing for me.
“I eventually broke down in my room, crying about it. My sister saw I was upset and she convinced me to tell my mum and dad. I knew my parents would be more outraged than upset.”
Through a combination of her own intervention, that of her parents and the person who posted the picture, the incident about how she was targeted by bullies and how she’s now a confidante for other young people whose experiences are taking their toll on their mental health. was dealt with overnight.
“I have learned to be good at putting things in the past and carrying on,” said Dionne, a former pupil of St John Ogilvie High in Hamilton – a school whose progressive anti-bullying initiatives she holds in high regard.
“For a lot of people, they cannot do that. No way is right or wrong. Everyone has their own way of dealing with things.”
The experience taught Dionne enough about the lasting impact hurtful acts of bullying can have to compel her to volunteer for Lanarkshire charity, the Trust Jack Foundation, which was founded in 2015 by the mum of Jack Hastie, who struggled with adolescent depression and took his own life at the age of 18. There, in her home town of Stonehouse, young people can unburden and confide in counsellors and volunteers like Dionne, when they no longer feel able to cope.
Dionne also recently enlisted as a ‘wave-maker’ for Tiny Changes – a charity set up by the family and friends of Scott Hutchison, lead singer and songwriter with band, Frightened Rabbit.
Through his music and art, Scott made tiny changes that had a big impact. His honesty and openness about his own mental health inspired people from all walks of life. In May 2018, at the age of 36, Scott died by suicide.
Believing that early intervention is essential, Tiny Changes supports people and
projects that positively impact young people’s mental health.
Dionne is among those from all backgrounds and of all ages whose common goal is to transform the mental health of young people in Scotland through sharing positive stories, having honest conversations and exploring creative solutions.
Regardless of her own experiences and those of the young people who share with her distressing accounts of how bullying is dragging them down, Dionne has the good grace to encourage the perpetrators to seek help if their own emotional and mental struggles are what’s causing them to lash out.
And she doesn’t endorse the view that may have been prevalent in the past that the best course of action is to retaliate.
“With that mentality, it’s creating a vicious circle,” maintains Dionne, who works as a cleaner at University Hospital Hairmyres, volunteers for Amnesty and sits on the health panel of Youngscot.
“If you reply back to a negative with a negative, no positive is ever going to come from that.”
Dionne, who joined the SNP around the time of the Scottish independence referendum of 2014, believes that her involvement in politics also empowers her to champion the rights of young people.
After a year of studying Politics and International Relations at Strathclyde University, Dionne changed direction and is now on a healthcare practice course at South Lanarkshire College, which she hopes will lead to a career as a nurse or paramedic.
Having worked as a constituency officer for Christina Mckelvie MSP since 2019, Dionne is an enthusiastic participant of Young Women Lead – a leadership programme designed to inspire women aged under 30 to become role models and leaders in their own community.
Created to address the underrepresentation of young women in politics, The Young Women’s Movement (YWCA Scotland) designed the programme for participants from a range of diverse communities.
It brings people together in the Scottish Parliament to run their own committee inquiry and connect their voices with MSPS and the Scottish Government Equality Unit.
Only weeks ago, Dionne’s name was added to YWCA’S 30 Under 30 list – an annual platform that showcases the experiences of Scotland’s most inspirational young women and the visions they have for society.
The prestigious list applauds Dionne for her keen interest in politics, human rights and equality, and for her work as a volunteer with St Andrews
Ambulance Service, which she hopes will give her the opportunity to train as a mental health first aider.
“The reason I went into politics and the reason I’m involved in all these other organisations was to help people,” said Dionne, who was among 10 pupils from St John Ogivlie and Holy Cross High Schools who visited schools and orphanages in Uganda as part of a missionary experience.
“There’s a massive mental health crisis going on, especially after Covid. And without people really knowing about them, it’s organisations like the Trust Jack Foundation that are making a huge difference.”
* Scotland’s national children’s charity, Children First, believes that every child has the right to be safe in school. It helps lots of parents have the confidence to address bullying. If you need support, call free on 08000 28 22 33.
Reply to a negative with a negative nothing positive is ever going to come of it ... I have learned to put things in the past