CAMPAIGNERS are planning to set up an anti-bullying service in Darlington.

Anne McGrath and Geoff Freeman are hoping to create a counselling and support service for children who are suffering at the hands of bullies.

The pair have already created a website, called bully line, through The Northern Echo's Communigate community scheme.

They are now hoping to attract funding and practical support from people concerned about bullying.

Mrs McGrath, a community worker on Branksome estate, was approached by two mothers in the area to set up the group.

She worked with them to create the website and Mr Freeman got in touch after logging on to the site.

Mr Freeman said: "My family have suffered bullying, and once I logged on to the site I realised there were lots of other people who were experiencing the same.

"We want youngsters to realise there is somewhere they can go if they are being bullied and need support."

The campaigners hope to visit schools and talk to pupils and teachers about the upset that bullying can cause.

Mr Freeman said: "All the schools have anti-bully policies, but we want to provide a service for the teachers and the pupils who may have difficulty dealing with situations. But we want people to realise that bullying does not just go on from 8am to 3.30pm.

"Kids are getting bullied on the school bus and outside school. It is a huge problem."

The pair have visited anti-bullying schemes in County Durham and Hartlepool and believe there is an equally desperate need for a specialised group in Darlington.

The group eventually hope to set up a dedicated phone line manned by trained volunteers who can offer advice and support.

A spokeswoman for Darlington Borough Council said all schools in Darlington have bullying policies and the Local Education Authority is working to create its own set of guidelines to support schools which have a problem.

She said: "We recognise it as an important issue and will listen to any independent group which has ideas on how to tackle it."

Anyone who would like to help can contact Mrs McGrath on (01325) 354084, or visit