This week Nil by Mouth kick-started its schools programme in West Lothian by visiting the P7 class from Our Lady of Lourdes Primary School in Blackburn.
Delivered as part of the Scottish Government backed ‘United Against Division’ programme pupils were encouraged to consider the impact of sectarianism on Scottish society and their local community as well as participate in a range of activities helping them discuss and consider their own opinions on this and other identify based issues. They also learned why Nil By Mouth was set up and how the issue of sectarianism links to their current novel study: Divided City by Theresa Breslin.
The charity is now set to ramp up its work across the local authority through the programme which is offered free of charge to all primary and secondary schools in West Lothian, North and South Lanarkshire. The project will help pupils better understand faiths, traditions and cultures different to their own as well as raising awareness of sectarian language and online safety on social media. In addition to Our Lady's schools in Stoneyburn, Whitburn and Addiewell have already signed up to take part and invitations issued to more than two dozen schools to get involved have been sent out this week.
Livingston FC have backed by the programme by offering complimentary tickets to an SPFL Premier League fixture in January to partner schools. The charity also recently ran a community conversation event with youth workers in West Lothian to understand how local people feel about the issues and how best the charity can hep raise awareness and respond to any local concerns about sectarianism.
The programme forms part of the Scottish Government’s ‘Tackling Sectarianism’ programme which sees grassroots work being carried out in communities right across Scotland to tackle religious prejudice and promote stronger relations between people from different faiths and backgrounds.
Nil By Mouth Education Officer, Jamie Lithgow, said:
“We are delighted to get the ball rolling on our West Lothian schools programme which will now run until the end of March 2024. The pupils from Our Lady of Lourdes did a tremendous job engaging with what can be quite a mature topic with a fantastic attitude and just the right level of banter to make it an enjoyable afternoon for all. Support from Livingston FC is also most welcome and will provide an added incentive for children to participate. We are looking forward to rolling up our sleeves and helping the young people of this area find their voice on the issue.’