June 20 2018
Two Gourock high schools have been honoured at Holyrood for their work building bridges between people from different faiths and cultures.
Pupils and staff from Clydeview Academy and St Columba’s High School visited the Parliament be presented with ‘Champions for Change’ awards by Nil by Mouth in recognition of the quality of their anti-sectarian partnership work
During 2018 the charity worked with more than 200 S2 pupils from the schools on an education and music programme entitled ‘Sing Something Else’ aimed at helping them better understand different religious and cultural identities. This included a special song contest held at the Old Gourock and Ashton Parish Church in March. Split into teams of ten, pupils were set the task of re-wording the Proclaimer’s hit, and Tartan Army anthem, ‘I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)’ to carry a message of friendship and anti-sectarianism.
The event was hosted by Inverclyde MSP Stuart McMillan and Nil by Mouth arranged for the Minister for Community Safety Annabelle Ewing MSP to surprise the pupils with a visit in order to find out more about their work. The Minister also made a special presentation to the two staff who have driven the project forward; Elaine Tait from Clydeview and Stephen Neeson from St Columba’s. The RMPS teachers were awarded prestigious individual ‘Champion for Change’ awards by the charity in light of their hard work and commitment. Only 8 of these awards have ever been awarded and previous winners include former First Minister Lord McConnell.
The ‘Sing Something Else’ project undertaken by the schools is derived from Nil by Mouth’s ‘Sing Something Else’ campaign, consisting of three short films, the focus of the campaign is on the legal, physical and emotional consequences of bigoted chanting at football matches.
Nil By Mouth Campaign Director Dave Scott said
‘This programme has been one of the most enjoyable and successful we have ever been involved in and was very much driven forward by staff and pupils. It’s fantastic to be able to bring some of those involved to the Parliament so decision makers can learn more about what has made it such a success. The pupils also had the chance to ask the MSPs questions and tell them more about their own views on how best we can rid Scotland of sectarianism. We are particularly delighted that the Minister was able to present Stephen and Elaine with their awards as we have been blown away by the levels of commitment they have shown and the imaginative way they have brought the pupils together. We’ve seen huge progress in terms of tackling sectarianism over the last two decades and we know that with programmes like this Scotland will prove itself bigger, brighter and bolder than bigotry.’
Stuart McMIllan MSP added:
‘The work undertaken by Nil By Mouth is important in helping turn around sectarianism and I welcome this project being delivered in my constituency. I was delighted to meet with the pupils and teachers involved and know that the project was well received and appreciated. Congratulations to Elaine Tait and Stephen Neeson for their ‘Champion of Change’ awards and I would like to wish everyone well for the future and believe this project will stand everyone in good stead.’