EFFORTS to beat bullying and improve the lives of vulnerable youngsters in County Durham have earned a national accolade.

The county council's anti-bullying service was this week rewarded for its work in schools as part of a multi-agency approach to the problem.

Investing in Children, which involves a number of partner groups, is designed to improve services for youngsters by taking their views into account.

Following an assessment, the service achieved the Investing in Children status.

A certificate was presented at a ceremony, at County Hall, Durham, attended by many of the youngsters who have worked with the service.

The anti-bullying service co-ordinator, Val McFarlane, said: "This award is an indication of how much our work is centred round the needs and wishes of children living in County Durham.

"A very intensive investigation was carried out by the Investing in Children team, involving interviewing young people, teachers, other school staff and our project workers."

The assesment report for the award described the service as very flexible with those involved and said staff actively listened to children and young people.