Around 4 years ago, the charity director of the National Bullying Helpline, Christine Pratt, was so angered by Downing Street’s denial of a bullying culture (having listened to 4 calls from No 10 staff) that she confirmed her helpline had itself taken calls from No 10.
I followed the story at the time, thinking that the subject of workplace bullying would be launched into the media spotlight, but what followed was an argument over whether Mrs Pratt had the right to speak her mind as she had.
One year later in the winter of 2010, the National Bullying Helpline ceased to be a charity, despite its 13 year history of listening to up to 30 calls a day. Following the Downing Street revelation, funding was badly affected. Talk about rough justice, I thought, when Britain has its fair share of horribly run business where angry outbursts are a daily occurrence. No-one was cutting off the funding to those businesses. No-one was giving them a hard time or putting them through trial by media.
In an extraordinary show of strength, Christine Pratt didn’t give up. After taking time to recover from her ordeal, she decided to run the National Bullying Helpline as a voluntary organisation, free to the majority and levying a small charge to those who asked for extra legal work to be arranged.
I was amazed Christine and the National Bullying Helpline survived and I empathised with what she went through. At the time of her troubles, I had been going through my own terrible ordeal. Like Christine, I’ve had my own subsequent challenges with people trying to shut me down.
Now, as she launches her much needed e-crime website (www.ecrime-action.co.uk) a resource for those experiencing any kind of cyber-bullying, she is going from strength to strength.
In a world that fails to fully recognise workplace bullying and where advice is so often questionable - from ignorance about cyber bullying to being motivated by money or a desire to shut the complainant up as soon as possible – communication between organisations is essential. We need to be ready to offer the best help and assistance to those targets taking the brave step of reaching out for the first time.
Best wishes to Christine and congratulations too.