Playwright Alan Spence is on a mission to keep the younger generation safe when they are online.

Since 2009, he has been working on an education project called My Name is Tom, which is comprised of a DVD of a theatre production following a teenage love story of Paris, 16 and Darnell, 15, as well as an education pack and workshops for both parents and their children to get involved with.

Alan is originally from Middlesbrough but moved to Enfield to study drama and history at Middlesex Polytechnic in 1982, before working as an arts practitioner in various secondary schools across north London, Redbridge and Hertfordshire for 25 years.

In 2009 he set up his own company called Theatre Is Real Life, in a bid to work with schools and the wider community to celebrate the lives of ordinary people and make a positive difference in the lives of young people.

Some of his other films and projects have included, Abandoned: A young child on a door step and a journey to find the right DNA, Homes And Gardens: A Trilogy and The Boro’s 37 mins.

Alan explains why he believes young people dealing with bullying will gain more support by talking to adults…

In your own words, can you tell me about your anti-bullying project called My Name Is Tom?

My name is Tom Education Project explores the issues of e-safety and new media for young people and adults. We are working with the community to develop awareness of the issues, to have a debate, to help young people make educated decisions, to encourage adults to keep an open mind and provide support for all the community.

The project consists of: a theatre production, a DVD of the performance, an education pack and workshops.

It is a typical teenage love story featuring Paris 16 and Darnell 15, but when Paris and Darnell are exposed, they are not the only ones.

Where did you get the idea from?

I became a trustee of Face Front Inclusive Theatre and our production of SEX FM had been running in schools for nine years. Around that time I read an article in the Times Educational Supplement of the issues of sexting for the first time and I said to colleagues, this has put teenage relationships onto a whole worrying level. Since then the problems have gone off the scale. I felt that a new play was needed to address the problem.

What do you hope to achieve- to raise more awareness about bullying in schools and perhaps find a way to control it?

I think that bullying is the tip of the iceberg. Things can only improve if young people and adults talk to each other, that said, you want everyone to make educated decisions.

You’ve been going round schools in North London with your project? Which ones?

In Enfield, I have been to St Anne’s Catholic High School for Girls, Enfield Grammar, Winchmore School. I’ve also visited Riverside and Woodside High Schools in Haringey and also Chingford High School in Waltham Forest.

Do you think you are making a difference?

The fact that young people and adults open up to us, tell of their experiences and concerns, shows that we are achieving our main objective.

What’s the plan now- carry on as a playwright or keep promoting your project in schools?

Ideally both. I have already written one play since the project started and I am working on another. I think that both activities complement each other and as my playwriting is developing. I am keen to see where it takes me.

To find out more about the project, visit: or email