July 30, 2020


By Imogen Chaillet, Anti-Bullying Aftercare Coordinator

Today is International Day of Friendship, a global celebration of human solidarity. Our world faces many challenges, crises and forces of division such as poverty, violence, and most recently the COVID-19 pandemic.

Today is International Day of Friendship, a global celebration of human solidarity. Our world faces many challenges, crises and forces of division such as poverty, violence, and most recently the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many of us have found the last several months in lockdown very challenging, in part because we haven’t been able to see our friends. This experience has highlighted the importance of our friendships and shown us the value of connecting to another person and feeling understood and supported.

Our recent survey of young people in the UK showed that whilst 61% still feel close to their friends, 29% of young people surveyed are worried about their friendships changing as a result of the impact of COVID-19. Your friends might be struggling even if they haven’t expressed this to you. You could be a big help to your friends just by reaching out to them regularly, asking how they are ‘really’ doing, or simply letting them know that you’re there to talk if they need you.  

As we start to look ahead at the new academic year, it feels more important than ever to support each other through friendship. We think International Day of Friendship is a great opportunity to think about how you can make a conscious effort to be a good friend to any new students who might have missed out on opportunities like transition days that are intended to help them settle in. Think about the qualities that you look for in a friend. Do you look for friends who are good listeners? Friends who are caring and supportive? Loyal? Reliable? Trustworthy? Focus on demonstrating these qualities yourself and you will be a great friend to the new students at school which will help them immensely as they adjust to their new environment. It will also be good for your current friendships!  

We asked our Anti-Bullying Trainers for their advice about how to be a good friend to new students.

Hannah’s advice:

“Remember, you were in their shoes once! What would you have liked to see from an older student when you were new? How did you feel when you first joined a new school? Excited? Nervous? Worried? Reaching out to new students as a friendly face can make all the difference to their school experience.”

Charlton’s advice:

“Put yourself in the other person’s shoes: think how they must feel coming to a new school with so many new people. It can be really intimidating and quite lonely at first, so try to see it from their perspective and ask yourself how you would want to be treated in that situation or what you’d want an older student to do for you. It can even be as simple as saying ‘hi’ or getting them involved in a game or activity. Be the change you want to see!”

Becca’s advice:

1. Be supportive of their transition to a new school and recognise it can be intimidating. This means supporting them any way you can i.e. directing the Year 7’s to the right classrooms, lunch halls, etc.

2. Be a friendly face in the school corridors and check-in. Be that smile they see in the sea of students and make sure you check in with them on how they are doing.

3. Including them in activities and games at lunchtime can be a great way of making them feel welcome at their new school.

The Diana Award Anti-Bullying trainer Charlton leads on dancing master class at Anti-Bullying Week.

As you see new students around school, keep in mind the challenges they might be facing and show them the support you know you would appreciate if you were new. Small acts of kindness could make a big difference to their day!

We’ve created some resources to help you think about how to support new students at your school in September. Check out these new resources for ideas about how to plan a virtual transition day and to support new students.

And, if you’re starting at a new school this September, we hope you’re excited for this opportunity to make lots of great new friends! Good luck and remember to always reach out when you need a bit of extra support from a teacher, parent, carer or another student.  

Remember that if you need someone else to talk to, young people in the UK can access The Diana Award Crisis Messenger by texting DA to 85258 for free, 24/7 or find more support services below.

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