Ipswich singer's music was 'escape route from bullying'

Roma Manteiga-Nicholson Image copyright Chris Silvester
Image caption Roma Manteiga-Nicholson, 14, has raised more than £13,000 for charities through her music

A teenage singer who uses her music to fundraise for good causes has told how writing songs became her "escape route" from two years of bullying.

Roma Manteiga-Nicholson, from Ipswich, has raised more than £13,000 for three different charities since June 2017.

But the 14-year-old's charitable work led to her being bullied, to the point where she had to move schools.

She said: "Music was my escape route from bullying and it inspired me to write songs like Why Did You Hurt Me?"

The Year 10 pupil said the bullying helped her come up with her slogan - Let Music Unite - and was a motivation for her fundraising.

Image copyright Chris Silvester
Image caption The teenager said bullies have not put her off from fundraising for good causes

"The bullying that I got was coming from all different directions, physically I used to get hit all the time, and mentally and online," she said.

She decided to start fundraising at the age of 11, when her mother Rosa Manteiga started volunteering at the Ipswich Night Shelter.

Image copyright Rosa Manteiga
Image caption Roma said her new music will reflect her improved mood and increased confidence

She was too young herself to volunteer there but had been writing songs since the age of nine, so decided to use her music to support the charity.

Roma has also raised money for East Anglia's Children's Hospices and 4YP, which supports young people with mental health issues, through performing and sales of her CD, Teen Spirit.

Image copyright Chris Silvester
Image caption Roma uses the slogan Let Music Unite

Her mother said the bullying got worse because of the fundraising.

She said Roma would spend weekends performing at events or busking, while her peers felt like "she should be hanging around town like them".

"The attention it was bringing for herself, people were jealous," said Ms Manteiga, whose husband Darren Nicholson plays in Roma's backing band.

Image copyright Darren Nicholson
Image caption Her mother Rosa Manteiga said music got Roma through her darkest times

Ms Manteiga said Roma had a "dark period" at the height of her bullying which was "incredibly worrying" but music got her through it.

Since moving schools, Ed Sheeran fan Roma said she now feels "better than ever" and more confident.

She said her next album will have "more upbeat songs" with a "pure band sound" to reflect her improved mood and life circumstances.

Image copyright Chris Silvester
Image caption Roma said she now feels "better than ever" and more confident

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