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JLS: We've been attacked by net trolls. Those cowards can ruin lives

Original Source: SUN: TUESDAY 04 OCTOBER 2011
Exclusive By CAROLINE McGUIRE  Published: Today at 01:42

Boyband on battling bullies

TOP boyband JLS have told how they have become the target of
sick internet trolls.

The online bullies pick on innocent and vulnerable people, including crime victims and their grieving families.


The Sun recently launched the Target A Troll campaign after exposing web attacks on high-profile victims including Amy Winehouse, the parents of Madeleine McCann and comic Dom Joly.


X Factor stars Marvin Humes, Aston Merrygold, Oritse Williams and JB Gill have been taunted on their Twitter pages by the cyber bullies.


The lads want to use the foundation they have set up to help put a stop to this online vitriol along with all other kinds of bullying.


Aston, 23, said: "Regardless of our position, we have been attacked too.


"With us it's usually something stupid about what clothes we've been wearing or something.


"We're thick-skinned boys and we try to take it with a pinch of salt. But other people get in touch with us whose lives have been completely ruined by it.


"All bullying is terrible but this new phenomenon of trolling is really disturbing

"There's no difference between hurling abuse in the playground or posting messages on the internet. It all hurts. It's just that cowards can now post things online when they wouldn't say it to your face."


On top of their hectic touring and recording schedules, last year the lads launched their own charitable fund, The JLS Foundation.


It has always been the lads' dream to raise as much money for others as possible.


And they have been doing that in various ways, including holding paid-for meet and greets on their tour, launching a range of Durex condoms and donating funds from merchandise sales.


Each of the band have chosen a cause for their foundation to donate to and, incredibly, they have already handed out ?100,000.


Last week the boys toured each of their nominated charities to see how that money is being spent


MARVIN'S chosen cause is NSPCC, which helps run the 24-hour ChildLine counselling service.


The 26-year-old told two years ago in a clip on the charity's website that he was picked on while at school because he wore glasses.

Hundreds of kids then emailed in to say his revelation had inspired them to get help with their own bullying issues.


On a tour of a ChildLine counselling centre in central London, Marvin heard moving stories about the youngsters the charity has helped.


He said: "I met this girl who was in and out of care while growing up.


"One thing led to another and she became homeless when she was 13 or 14. Not long after that things escalated and she ended up working as a prostitute

"But she reached out to the people at ChildLine, they helped her and she has now totally turned her life around.


"Stories like that make you realise that if ChildLine hadn't been there then her life would probably be in a very different place right now."


ASTON visited the London headquarters of his chosen charity, Beatbullying.


He met up with some of the counsellors and children who have been helped by the organisation in the past.


And he chatted to someone who would not have been around today if it wasn't for Beatbullying.


He said: "This girl had been involved with the charity for three years.


"She had been bullied over many, many years and after a while it just got too much for her and she ended up trying to hang herself. Luckily someone found her and she was referred to a Beatbullying mentor. By talking to this mentor she started to be able to cope. So by talking to them it actually saved her life.


"She was one of the biggest inspirations to me."


"It's great being a young guy and having the big house and the sports cars or whatever but, as far as we're concerned, you're never too big to be inspired by someone."



ORITSE'S work with his chosen cause, the MS Society, goes back to the very heart of JLS ? he formed the band so he could provide for his mum Sonia, who suffers from multiple sclerosis.


She was diagnosed with the nerve disease almost 15 years ago and is now unable to walk. The singer made a pact with his younger brother Temisan to help their beloved mum ? Oritse would raise cash to support her through JLS and his brother would get into medicine so he could try to find a cure for the illness.

Temisan has kept his word ? he graduated earlier this year with a degree in biomedical science.


Oritse, 24, said: "I have cared for my mum since I was 12. She went from being able to run along with me to not being able to stand up.


"I will continue for as long as I live to do work with the MS Society and to try to find a cure for multiple sclerosis, which I feel isn't as far away as people think.


"If we keep on putting money into research and new science, hopefully we can get closer and closer to tackling the illness. I'm very positive, I'm very confident. I've cried all I need to cry, I've gone through all of the emotions I needed to go through and I'm just on the wavelength that one day it's going to happen and hopefully it will be in time to save my mum.


"She's in the respite centre at the moment and I'm seeing things that are starting to help her.

"There's so much that is being discovered, but the thing about MS is it's an illness that hasn't had major publicity, so it probably hasn't been at the forefront of the list of illnesses.


"But it is becoming more and more common and it is through my involvement, and the rest of the boys supporting me and the charity, that we are able to build more and more awareness."


Stuart Nixon, acting chair of the MS Society, is hugely grateful for the band's support.


He said: "The right equipment makes the difference between an existence and a life. These days the amount of funds are decreasing for things like house adaptations, so often people are restricted to living in just one room.


"Money like this can change that situation for people."  




JB nominated the Rays Of Sunshine as his cause.


The group grant wishes to children living with serious or life-limiting illnesses and help hospitals, hospices and schools improve their facilities. 

JB says working with the charity has been the most humbling thing he has ever done.


The 24-year-old said: "A while ago there was one boy I met there who was ridiculously clever. He was eight years old and had a reading age of 15 and he wanted to get into Oxford within two years.


"He had extreme arthritis which was extremely painful


"It made it difficult for him to go and socialise with people his own age because he can't do things like kick a ball around.


"But something like coming down to a show and meeting his idols or going to a football match and meeting the players spurs him on and makes life so much better.


"When you meet some of these people, it's so hard to grasp what they've been through because I've had nothing like that happen.


"Anything that you've achieved just seems so insignificant in comparison."


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