Gosport schoolchildren on a mission to stop loneliness by forming the playground Friendship Squad

FOUR Gosport schoolchildren are on a mission to stop loneliness and bullying by forming their own group spreading friendship and happiness.

Monday, 10th February 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Monday, 10th February 2020, 3:08 pm

Eight-year-old Lilly-Rose Mintram came up with the idea of the Friendship Squad after being inspired by learning about people such as Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks.

The Peel Common Junior School pupil has recruited three of her friends to help - Oscar Pellatt, Phoebe Corney and Lana Murden have joined Lilly in patrolling the playground to make sure no-one feels left out.

Lilly, from Gosport, said: ‘I’m trying to stand up for what I believe, everyone shouldn’t be lonely because it will just make them upset and they will have no friends.

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Four children at Peel Common Junior School in Gosport, have started a Friendship Squad. This is a new buddy system - which they have had special jackets made and signals that anyone lonely or bullied can come and play with them at school, to make sure no one is left out. Pictured is: Phil and Michelle Mintram with their daughter Lilly-Rose (8) who thought up the idea of the Friendship Squad. Picture: Sarah Standing (070220-5518)

‘Friendship Squad is to make people who are sad on the playground happy and join in with us.’

Proud parents Phil and Michelle Mintram, who fundraise for the school as the Friends of Peel Common, encouraged Lilly to take the idea to headteacher Andy Clarke, who was over the moon.

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Mum-of-three Michelle said: ‘We’re really proud of our children anyway, but it just beams through us when we hear she wants to do something so nice and kind.’

Four children at Peel Common Junior School in Gosport, have started a Friendship Squad. This is a new buddy system - which they have had special jackets made and signals that anyone lonely or bullied can come and play with them at school, to make sure no one is left out. Pictured is: Headteacher of Peel Common Junior School Andy Clarke with (l-r) Phoebe Corney (9), Oscar Pellatt (8), Lana Murden (8) and Lilly-Rose Mintram (8). Picture: Sarah Standing (070220-7117)

The Friendship Squad provide a safe place for lonely children to join in and have fun, and can be spotted across the playground thanks to their hi-vis jackets which say ‘I’ll be there for you’.

Lana, eight, said: ‘We always help each other and we’re always there for each other no matter what, even if we’re being bullied.’

Nine-year-old Phoebe added: ‘I thought it was actually quite nice to be helping other people.

‘Even when we weren’t with our jackets, we still helped other people.’

Four children at Peel Common Junior School in Gosport, have started a Friendship Squad. This is a new buddy system - which they have had special jackets made and signals that anyone lonely or bullied can come and play with them at school, to make sure no one is left out. Pictured is: (l-r) Lana Murden (8), Oscar Pellatt (8), Phoebe Corney (9) and Lilly-Rose Mintram (8). Picture: Sarah Standing (070220-7159)

The group is hoping their idea will continue at the school, and spread to other children across the country.

Mr Clarke said: ‘I thought it was a great idea but I’m just really proud that it’s come from them.

‘They have really understood it, processed it and want to do something about it. It’s about supporting their ideas and empowering children.

‘They’re brilliant ambassadors for this because they have got this confidence and belief in their friendship.’

Four children at Peel Common Junior School in Gosport, have started a Friendship Squad. This is a new buddy system - which they have had special jackets made and signals that anyone lonely or bullied can come and play with them at school, to make sure no one is left out. Pictured is: (back) Oscar Pellatt (8) with (front l-r) Phoebe Corney (9), Lilly-Rose Mintram (8) and Lana Murden (8). Picture: Sarah Standing (070220-7169)