A singer who launched an anti-bullying campaign wants to “stand for confidence” and inspire others to learn from her experiences.
Raphaella Mazaheri, of Whetstone, was badly bullied by classmates as a child and teenager - but is now hoping her traumatic experiences will help others.
The 23-year-old is fronting children’s charity Kids Count's new I Stand For campaign to encourage people to stand up for themselves.
She said: “I had a really hard time throughout school - people were horrible. Someone once told me they didn’t want to be my friend anymore because ‘you’re you.’ It was heartbreaking.
“It makes you question if there’s something fundamentally wrong with you. I thought, am I really that awful? It strips you of your confidence.
“No matter how different you are, nobody deserves to be bullied. It’s not your fault, don’t be embarrassed. I want to create a support network and show people how to deal with it.”
The campaign was officially launched in Parliament in the House of Commons last night, where Raphaella, who went to Palmers Green High School and North London Collegiate School in Stanmore, sang her own song ‘Beautiful Like Me.’
When she was 14 her school sent her to a dance scheme for bullies and bullying victims - and after making friends, her confidence grew.
She first got involved with the Kids Count charity when she was studying for a degree at the Institute of Contemporary Music and was selected to sing for their Inspirational Awards.
Raphaella, who also plays the violin, has sung alongside Nicole Sherzinger, Natasha Bedingfield and Joss Stone at various events.
Afterwards, she was invited to become an ambassador and began pouring her efforts into the campaign.
She added: “The charity is very important to me and last night’s launch was amazing, it was lovely and intimate.
“Personally, I stand for confidence. Things start from within yourself, and no matter what someone says to you, you are better than that.”