Teenager given huge honour for project against bullying

Devan Witter outside his former school
Devan Witter outside his former school

A teenager, who turned his own experience of being bullied into a way to help others, has received the British Empire Medal in the New Year Honours list.

Over four years, Devan Witter, 19, of Market Weighton, has used his own experiences to address and provide effective support for young people who are being bullied, and for parents and teachers.

Through campaigning and raising awareness of bullying as well as offering support and advice, the teenager set up the Devan Group.

The website provides anti-bullying services through a project called Action Against Bullying.

The former pupil at The Market Weighton School said: “I was quite shocked when I first received the letter. I didn’t think it was real.

“I think my family are very proud.”

In 2015, the Devan Group started working with Talent Match Humber, a Big Lottery Fund programme aimed at helping young people who have been long-term unemployed to raise aspirations and their ability to cope with long-term unemployment.

He also works alongside various charities including Fixers, who he worked with while creating aspects of his website, and Step Up to Serve.

“I do a lot of anti-bullying work. I set up a website which has different parts to it. There’s a section for parents and young people with information about bullying then there’s a site for teachers,” said Devan.

“I worked with Fixers to do this. It’s so teachers can find out what it is like for a young person to be going through something like this and how to spot when there is bullying.”

Devan says what has driven him is wanting to turn the bullying he went through into something positive by helping others.

He added: “It started off because it helped me deal with being bullied myself and now other people are benefitting from something I went through.”

In October 2015 he received the Diana Award which is given out in Diana, Princess of Wales’ name to young role models who are selflessly transforming the lives of others.

Over the years, Devan has also visited schools to give talks about bullying.

Now working full time for Talent Match, Devan is looking to expand and do even more to support young people such as the cost of transport for young people.

Through this he set up the East Riding Youth Transport project – a campaign to improve public transport for young people within the East Riding.​Devan hopes to continue campaigning for young people.