An interview with Rachel Spencer and the BeeU Anti-Bullying Campaign
After spending years on the big screen, Manchester actress and singer, Rachel Spencer, is stepping out of the spotlight to shine a light on a harrowing issue faced by young people and adults across the UK.
Speaking exclusively to Revive, Rachel tells us about the BeeU anti-bullying campaign, launched to help minimise bullying, either in school, at home, or in the workplace.
After featuring in Coronation Street, Heartbeat, Doctors and Two pints of lager and a packet of crisps, Rachel took a step back from the screen to set up Sofia Management, a casting agency designed to help actors find work.
Passionate about helping others, in 2017, she launched the BeeU initiative and has since helped young people around the UK understand the psychological impact bullying can have.
Why did you set up BeeU?
“A lot of clients from the casting agency were victims of online bullying and trolling, and it was becoming a huge issue. One of the young girls I worked with wanted to take her own life, and I felt a connection with her because I’ve been in that situation myself. I just thought ‘surely there must be something I can do?’
“My talents and passions are in drama, and I wanted to find a way to use that to help young people understand the effects of bullying on mental health.
“I started going into schools and running workshops about three years ago, but I had to undergo a lot of training before this was possible. I spoke to everyone I could to gain a better insight; psychologists, police, victims and bullies.”
Where did the name BeeU originate from?
“The ‘Bee’ is for the Manchester bee, and the U stands for ‘you’ – be yourself, be unique, and appreciate who are as a person.”
Bullying is a sensitive topic, but why do you think young people bully others and are they always to blame?
“The workshops I’ve been running in schools mean I get to speak to bullies and understand their behaviour. When you listen to them, you begin to understand why they bully.
“From broken homes to neglectful parents, they feel like they are treated differently. The background is a major factor that influences behaviour – and often, bullies are disrespected and resentful to those who are happy because they want to inject how they feel onto someone else.”
“Regardless of age, bullying can happen to anyone, anywhere. More often than not, we are so quick to blame the bully for their behaviour, but instead, we need to understand why they are doing it. We need to get to the root cause and find ways to support them, as well as the victim.”
What positive feedback have you had from those you’ve worked with on the campaign?
“We’ve had so many fantastic responses from victims, bullies and parents. We’ve had bullies email us to say thank you for our support, and victims tell us they now have something to live for.
“We’ve helped them gain confidence through our workshops, make new friends, and open up.”
“We’re currently looking for investment to open The Hive; a community space for young people to take respite.
“We want to use it as a sensory for people to listen to music and relax in a safe environment. We’d like to have a yoga room and councillor comfort room, allowing those who come to speak to a professional in a non-clinical setting.
“When I was younger, we would go to the community centre on a Friday night, but young people don’t have that anymore, it’s something that’s missing from today’s world. Kids cause trouble because they are bored.”
Do you have any more TV roles in the pipeline?
“I recently starred on a Channel 4 reality TV show called ‘The Naked Beach’ which is all about body confidence, appreciating who you are, and I’m also set to star in a new feature film called, ‘Street Blood’ about a boxer, which we’re currently filming.”