#cyberbullying | #cyberbully | Rochdale News | News Headlines | Celebrity bedtime stories to keep kids safe online

Date published: 07 October 2020

A leading suicide prevention charity has launched a new celebrity Bedtime Stories campaign to help protect children from cyber bullying and harmful online content.

North West-based PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide says the hard-hitting films, which are narrated by celebrities, are designed to raise awareness of the impact online bullying and dangerous content can have on children and young people.

Critically-acclaimed actor Michael Sheen OBE, actress Julie Hesmondhalgh, former Love Island star Anton Danyluk and actress, author and singer-songwriter Carrie Hope-Fletcher gave up their time to support the Bedtime Stories project.  

Actor Michael Sheen said: “I’m incredibly proud to be part of the campaign, which highlights the very real dangers that young people face in our increasingly digital world.

“Bedtime Stories speaks to those with young children, or indeed young people in their lives, raising awareness of how the online environment can impact on the mental health of those using it and reminds them that PAPYRUS is here for them, should they need help and support.”

Every year more than 200 schoolchildren are lost to suicide in the UK. 

The four films share the same backdrop; a welcoming and seemingly safe bedroom. Each story begins softly but these are bedtime stories with a twist – dark tales which warn of hidden dangers.



Ged Flynn, Chief Executive of PAPYRUS, said: “We are so grateful to Michael, Julie, Anton and Carrie for lending their star qualities and unique personalities to deliver what is a very powerful campaign.

“The Bedtime Stories were written to provoke a reaction, particularly among parents. We want them to think ‘what does my child read before going to bed and before they go to sleep?’.

“Are they reading hurtful text messages on their phone? Maybe they are looking at something inappropriate, upsetting and harmful on social media? As they close their eyes are they feeling hurt, scared, sad or overwhelmed?”

It is the second chapter of the Bedtime Stories campaign which PAPYRUS first launched in 2018. It will be promoted online, broadcast on radio and feature in national newspaper advertising.

In the stories, Michael Sheen tells the tale of Annabelle and The Trolls, Julie Hesmondhalgh reads about Rachel and the Rabbit Hole, Anton Danyluk narrates Benji and the Keyboard Warrior and Carrie Hope-Fletcher reads Harry and The Haters.  

Former Coronation Street star Julie Hesmondhalgh said: “Having met some of the families who have lost children and young people to suicide, I feel very honoured to be part of this eye-catching and original campaign.  

“As anyone who works in the mental health field will tell you that awareness is key, knowing how to see the signs in those around you, but also knowing where to seek help and how to talk to people who are struggling.

“In these extremely challenging times, organisations like PAPYRUS are needed more than ever.” 

PAPYRUS wants greater online safety and says cyber bullying is a contributing factor for many young people having thoughts of suicide.  

Ged Flynn added: “We need everyone to be aware of the impact online bullying and harmful content can have on the mental health of children and young people.

“It affects them in many different ways. It can impact on their self-esteem, emotional wellbeing and can cause them to feel isolated and worthless.

“Some vulnerable young people spiral into self-deprecation and self-loathing which can ultimately lead to suicidal behaviours. 

“Parents and caregivers do well to engage with their young people in terms of what they are doing online, give support and reassure them that they are safe and protected.”

Suicide is the biggest killer of young people in the UK. PAPYRUS aims to reduce the number of young people who take their own lives by breaking down the stigma around suicide and equipping people with the skills to recognise and respond to suicidal behaviour.

HOPELINEUK is the charity’s confidential helpline service providing practical advice and support to young people with thoughts of suicide and anyone concerned about a young person who may have thoughts of suicide.

HOPELINEUK is staffed by trained professionals, offering a telephone, text and email service.

For practical, confidential suicide prevention help and advice please contact PAPYRUS HOPELINEUK on 0800 068 4141, text 07860 039967 or email pat@papyrus-uk.org

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