Coronation Street stars Brooke Vincent, Sacha Parkinson and Antony Cotton are helping to publicise an initiative against homophobic bullying in Manchester schools.

This week is Anti-Bullying Week and the actors are supporting the theme of ‘Taking Action Together’.

Vincent and Parkinson are currently involved in the soap’s first lesbian storyline as their characters Sophie Webster and Sian Powers struggle with rejection and homophobia.

Vincent, who plays Sophie, said: “Sacha and I really enjoy playing gay characters, and since the storyline started we realise more and more that there are so many people who are gay, and there are so many things that for them are a lot harder.

“Playing Sophie has made me realise that it’s not easy to say look I’m gay deal with it – because it’s not. Different people have different stories, some people have a terrible time, some people just breeze through.”

Parkinson who plays Sian Powers, added: “This is an issue that Brooke and I are really protective about. We want to get the message across that there is nothing wrong with being gay. We always try and speak out, we wear rainbow wristbands in interviews – it’s not just our job, we actually mean it!

“Positive projects like this, and storylines like ours point people in the right direction.”

Antony Cotton, who plays Sean Tully – Coronation Street’s longest running gay character – said: “Education is key – if someone is brought up to believe one thing then by the time they are an adult they’ll automatically think that. No child, no human being is ever born to hate gay people. It’s about getting the right messages out there and working together.”

Schools in the Manchester area will use special lesson plans, workshops and resources this month to discuss all forms of bullying.

The scheme is organised by the Exceeding Expectations partnership, which includes Manchester city council, Healthy Schools Manchester, The Hope Theatre Company and The Lesbian & Gay Foundation.