A gay youth group is helping lead a new anti bullying service in Scotland.

LGBT Youth Scotland along with the Scottish Association for Mental Health have today launched a new awareness programme called Better Futures, aimed at tackling bullying wherever it occurs.

The Scottish Executive is backing the scheme and has provided funding worth £350,000 for three years to help develop effective anti-bullying policies.

Ideas include a new toolkit to help organisations develop anti-bullying policies, training for organisations on implementation of their policies, national assessment of anti-bullying policies and strategies, and sharing of best-practice and anti-bullying resources

Education Minister Peter Peacock said: “Bullying represents a living hell for some young people and it’s something we all have an absolute responsibility to challenge and deal with whenever it arises.

“We are making progress. Scotland’s schools now recognise that bullying is an issue for each and every one of them and the misery it can cause. But more needs to be done.

He recognised that bullying can take place anywhere and takes many forms such as emails and text messages, “That’s why we have extended our anti-bullying service, to widen the focus. This is a real challenge for Better Futures who will work with schools and communities, at various levels, to develop solutions and share what works,” he said.

The independent Anti-Bullying Leadership Group, established in 2005 and made up of professionals from a wide range of organisations, interviewed five bidders for the extended anti-bullying service.

Their recommendation, endorsed by the Education Minister, was to award the five-year contract to Better Futures, a joint bid from the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) who will have overall management responsibility, and LGBT Youth Scotland.

Better Futures, like its predecessor the Anti-Bullying Network, will not provide help directly for those being bullied. They will work with organisations to help them develop effective anti-bullying strategies.

The Executive provides £144,000 to Childline Scotland to fund their dedicated Bullying Helpline – 0800 441111 – which offers support directly to those affected.