Pitching the Perfect idea

Ayrshire College students had the opportunity by the anti-sectarian charity Nil By Mouth to provide a cutting edge idea for its next campaign.

Groups from the 24/7 Plus course from Ayr, Kilmarnock and Kilwinning each had to come up with their own innovative concepts for the ‘Pitch Perfect’ competition, and present them to a panel of judges.

There could only be one winner and smiles were etched on the faces of the Ayr team when they were told the good news!

However, the high quality of all three entries has given Nil By Mouth some great ideas to progress with.

Here we speak to Dionne Campbell, Jack Duncan, Christopher Field, Claire McGreevy and Chelsea Pettigrew – the winning team – to talk about their involvement in the ‘Pitch Perfect’ project.

Pitch Perfect winning team

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What were your initial thoughts about the competition?

Christopher: “We started the project off by listening to a presentation about sectarianism from Nil By Mouth’s Dave Scott. We were set the task of creating an idea to stop sectarianism in Scotland. We learned about sectarian language and some high profile cases of sectarianism – such as the shocking online attacks on Celtic fan Jay Beatty.”

Claire: “The initial presentation was really interesting and it got me hooked on wanting to be a part of the Nil by Mouth project. I learnt a lot about sectarianism and as soon as I left the presentation I instantly started to brainstorm ideas.”

Chelsea: “I really enjoyed Dave’s initial presentation about sectarianism as he was up front about the subject yet made it funny. He bonded well with us and gave us great examples of what sectarianism is and how serious it can get.”

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What was your idea and how did you come up with it?

Dionne: “We decided that the best way to get the anti-sectarianism message across to young people would be to create an app for smartphones, as well as a social media campaign, as we felt that was the best way to reach our target audience. We felt if we could come up with an idea that interests us, then it would also interest our peers.”

Claire: “The app makes people aware of online sectarianism and the consequences of sectarian behaviour. We highlighted a number of examples of people using sectarian language.”

Jack: “We did brainstorm other options, like a poster, but realised that the majority of people our age use smartphones and are unlikely to stop to look at a poster. That’s why we ultimately went down the app route.”

How did you execute the idea?

Chelsea: “We began by researching sectarianism. The amount of information that we found out was unbelievable – I wasn’t previously aware of half of the stuff I was reading, but it was really useful to know. We also filmed silent videos where we told hard-hitting sectarian ‘Cardboard Stories’ for maximum impact.”

Jack: “In terms of building the app, we found a free app creating website called ‘Appypie’. Once we gathered and uploaded all of the information for the app, we then created a Facebook page to integrate with it.”

Dionne: “Researching sectarianism was definitely my favourite part of the project. It really surprised me when I found out what’s considered sectarian language; and the consequences of using it. Putting the app together was also a lot of fun as it really made us knuckle down and work as a team.”

What was it like pitching your idea to the judges?

Christopher: “On the day of the pitch I was very nervous hoping everything would go as planned. We walked in and introduced ourselves to the judges and provided them with iPads so that they could put our app into action. We played the videos we had created, which explained what the app is and how it works, before we talked about how we found the whole experience of learning about sectarianism.”

Dionne: “This was the part that many of us were dreading as we don’t have a lot of confidence. We thought this might decrease our chances of winning. However, when we experienced slight technical difficulties at the start with our video, we stepped up to the plate and explained how they app worked. Once I heard the judges’ positive feedback, I thought ‘we have a chance’.”

Chelsea: “We talked about how we felt about sectarianism and showed our app to the judges. Standing in front of the judges was a little nerve-wracking and to be honest, I did feel scared when I first went in. But as the pitch went on I could feel myself improving.”

How did you feel when you found out you had won?

Claire: “When we got called in to found out the result, we were so desperate to know if we’d won. As the judges gave us feedback I was starting to expect a “but…”, however they announced us as the winners. I was so excited that I nearly started crying! I couldn’t believe all of our hard work and effort had paid off. I’m so proud of all of us.”

Christopher: “We were the first of the three groups to present our idea so we had an anxious wait before the results were announced. The judges gave us detailed feedback on the app and said it was a brilliant idea. When they said “Congratulations, you are the winners”, I was absolutely delighted.”

Jack: “When they told us that our idea was the best they had seen and would work well, we were ecstatic. I got a real sense of accomplishment and throughout this whole experience I feel that my communication skills have improved massively. I feel so much more confident.”

Nil By Mouth aims to challenge people to think about their attitudes towards sectarianism and the harmful impact it has on our society.

For further information on the anti-sectarianism charity, visit: http://nilbymouth.org/.

Ayrshire College 1, Bigotry 0

Ayrshire College students were recently challenged by the anti-sectarian charity Nil By Mouth to provide a cutting edge idea for their next campaign.

Nil By Mouth’s campaign director Dave Scott has kindly agreed to write for us about the competition, and the charity itself.

Nil By Mouth


Sectarianism is a hot topic in Scotland these days. It conjures up images of anger, noise, violence, intolerance and chants on football terraces. But how much do we really know about this complex problem? And what is being done to tackle it? Can we separate fact from fiction?

That is the challenge Nil by Mouth sets itself as we work with schools, colleges, workplaces and communities right across Scotland.

The charity was set up by Glasgow teenager Cara Henderson in response to the brutal sectarian murder of her friend Mark Scott. She believed that sectarianism was being swept under the carpet and it was time to do something about it. She set the charity up with the aim of challenging people to think about these attitudes and the harmful impact they have on our society.

The aim of our work is not to preach but simply to ask questions, to encourage people to revaluate old stereotypes and prejudices, and perhaps ask as many questions of their own views as they do other peoples.

Over the last few years we have been working in partnership with Ayrshire College to raise awareness of sectarianism and offer students and staff the opportunity to have their views heard on the subject. We have worked with sport students and the coaches of tomorrow – asking them how they would address problems on the touchline or the dressing room. We have spoken with lecturers and staff about how it can manifest itself in the workplace.

One of the areas we have been keen to highlight is the growing use of social media to subject others to sectarian abuse. Students seemed stunned as we showed them the potential consequences of online abuse and the negative impact being exposed as a ‘twitter troll’ can have on your reputation and employment prospects. They seem equally surprised when they discover that two thirds of arrests for sectarian behaviour have nothing to do with football. And participants have also given us things to think about, asked us questions that we did not have the answer to. We’ve enjoyed every session we have ran across the college and students and staff have always been open and welcoming.

In May this year, young people on courses at the College’s award winning HIVE (Hope, Inspiration and Vision in Education) facility took part in one of our ‘Pitch Perfect’ competitions, which gave them the opportunity to come up with their own campaigns aimed at raising awareness of the issue across Ayrshire.

It was fabulous to see groups from the various campuses present their ideas and it was clear that they had put a lot of thought into them. It was the first time many of them had taken part in a programme like this and they all gave an excellent account of themselves. Not only have they learned a lot about the harmful impact of sectarianism on our society but they have also come up with their own campaigns to create positive change.

The college has a smashing group of staff and students and a real commitment to equality. We greatly value our relationship with Ayrshire College and the opportunity it has provided us to spread our message that Scotland is bigger, better and bolder than bigotry.

For more information on the work of Nil by Mouth visit our website http://www.nilbymouth.org, find us on Facebook or follow us on twitter: @NBMScotland