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Equation Launch New Suite of Training Sessions

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This week we are excited to announce the next step in our journey towards building a society free from domestic abuse, sexual violence and gender inequality: the launch of our new suite of Twilight training sessions. 

As an Equation supporter you will likely already be aware of the work Equation undertakes with young people, encouraging them to aspire to healthy, equal relationships. So far we have delivered training to 6000 children across Nottinghamshire. 

It is a sad fact that 1 in 5 teenagers in the UK will experience physical abuse (NSPCC, 2016), a tragic statistic only worsened when the impact of domestic and sexual violence is considered. The reported effects on teenagers include reduced levels of self-esteem & confidence, a higher likelihood to experience mental health issues and unsurprisingly, a lack of attendance and ability to concentrate in class (Women and Equalities Committee, 2017). It is hard to imagine how, in their formative years, facing problems such as these wouldn’t have a direct impact on any child’s future prospects as their grades, ability to develop healthy social skills and understanding of relationship dynamics are likely to be affected. 

Preventing young people from entering into unhealthy relationships, and assisting in early intervention when prevention has not been possible, is paramount to building an equal society unburdened by the impacts of domestic abuse. This is why we are always looking for more ways to encourage young people to make healthier relationship choices and improve the accessibility to support for those who tragically have already been affected. 

Following on from the successes we have had working directly with young people ourselves, we are now striving to further the impact of our work by collaborating more closely and more widely with professionals who work directly with young people. We want to equip these professionals with the knowledge and skills to better safeguard the young adults they work with. This is what our new suite of courses, our Twilight briefings, will be able to deliver. 

The Twilight courses are 90-minute training sessions that will educate professionals on the complexities of the varying forms of domestic violence that pose the biggest threat to the young people in our society.  Professionals, such as teachers and youth workers, will not only have a better understanding of these sensitive issues but will also learn how to navigate the barriers to successfully promoting healthier choices to young adults. They will be able to more easily identify who, of the children and teenagers they work with, may be at risk and know how to provide them with access to the support available to young survivors. 

These new courses can be delivered to groups of 5 plus within their own work settings for convenience and in either an interactive or prevention style format making them engaging and easily understandable for everyone. You can find more information about the full range of courses on offer here or email our children and young people team for a discussion about the particular issues facing the young people you work with. 

Having already had incredibly positive feedback from school staff who have trialled these courses we cannot wait to see the impact we know these courses will have on protecting more young people in our society. We know this is the next step forwards in achieving our goal for everyone to have equal, healthy relationships, in a society free from domestic abuse, sexual violence and gender inequality. 

“The training delivered by Equation was well-pitched, showing expert knowledge and delivered in an interactive way. There were also practical tips and signs to look out for that could be applied the next day. Highly recommended.”

Head of Year 9, Nottingham Academy

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Putting VAWG on the Election Agenda

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Persistently high levels of domestic violence, rape, sexual harassment, forced marriage and FGM mean that these issues should be a priority for every candidate in the upcoming General Election on June 8th.

EVAW have put together a useful toolkit to locate and contact candidates that you can access here, and we’ve put together a list for you of all the local candidates in Nottinghamshire (see below).

EVAW have also put together a useful summary review of Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, Green Party and Women’s Equality Party manifesto pledges on the subject of ending violence against women and girls. Read the review here.

We’ve already seen a broad coalition of women’s groups write to party leaders earlier this month asking in detail about what they will do if elected to end all forms of violence against women and girls, as it published its own ‘Priorities for Government’ and called on supporters to press their local candidates for commitments.

We urge you to contact your local candidates and find out what they intend to do to end violence against women and girls in this election. Please find below a list of all candidates for each of the seven constituencies that make up Nottinghamshire:

Ashfield

Bob Charlesworth, Liberal Democrat

Gloria De Piero, Labour

Tony Harper, Conservative

Arran Rangi, Green Party

Gail Turner, Independent

Ray Young, Ukip

Bassetlaw

Leon Duveen, Liberal Democrats

John Mann, Labour Party

Annette Simpson, Conservative Party

Nigel Turner, Independent

Broxtowe

Tim Hallam, Liberal Democrats

Fran Loi, UK Independence Party

Greg Marshall, Labour Party

Pat Morton, Green Party

Anna Soubry, Conservative Party

Gedling

Carolyn Abbott, Conservative Party

Vernon Coaker, Labour Party

Rebecca Connick, Green Party

Robert Swift, Liberal Democrats

Lee Waters, UK Independence Party

Mansfield

Ben Bradley, Conservative Party

Alan Meale, Labour Party

Sid Pepper, UK Independence Party

Anita Prabhakar, Liberal Democrats

Philip Shields, Independent

Newark

Xandra Arundel, UK Independence Party

Robert Jenrick, Conservative Party

Chantal Lee, Labour Party

David Watts, Liberal Democrats

Nottingham East

David Bishop, Elvis and The Yeti Himalayan Preservation

Kat Boettge, Green Party

Robert Hall-Palmer, UK Independence Party

Barry Holliday, Liberal Democrats

Chris Leslie, Labour Party

Simon Murray, Conservative Party

Nottingham North

Stephen Crosby, UK Independence Party

Tadeusz Jones, Liberal Democrats

Kirsty Jones, Green Party

Alex Norris, Labour Party

Jack Tinley, Conservative Party

Nottingham South

Lilian Greenwood, Labour Party

David Hollas, UK Independence Party

Jane Hunt, Conservative Party

Adam McGregor, Green Party

Tony Sutton, Liberal Democrats

Rushcliffe

Kenneth Clarke, Conservative Party

Matthew Faithfull, UK Independence Party

Richard Mallender, Green Party

David Mellen, Labour Party

Jayne Phoenix, Liberal Democrats

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Make Sure You’re Registered to Vote

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With less than two weeks left until the deadline to register to vote, we know there will be many people in Nottinghamshire who are not currently signed up. You don’t need us to tell you what a hard-fought-for right voting is, especially for women, following the Suffragette movement in the late-19th and early-20th centuries! But we thought it might be useful to remind people about how to register to vote, how to access support to do it anonymously, and why voting matters.

Most Nottinghamshire residents will have been sent an application to register to vote if they are not already on the electoral role as part of their council tax registration. However, if you have recently moved, live in rented accommodation or have trouble understanding information and services in English you may not have accessed this.

The easiest way to register to vote is to do so online. You can start the process here if you have your National Insurance number handy. To vote in the General Election on 8 June, you need to register by 11:59pm on 22 May. You don’t need to register again if you’ve already registered. You can follow the same link to:

  • update your name, address or other details on the electoral register
  • change your voting preferences, for example to vote in person or by post
  • change whether you’re on the open register

It usually takes about 5 minutes.

We blogged last week about the issues surrounding anonymous voter registration. Women’s Aid and the Electoral Commission have produced a short Joint Guide to support survivors of domestic abuse to register to vote anonymously. The guide is aimed at professionals working with survivors, and includes helpful advice on the anonymous registration application process and some frequently asked questions. Please note that the deadline for anonymous voter registration is Wednesday 31 May 2017.

You can download the guide here.

Lastly, regardless of your political preferences, voting in local and general elections allows all of us to push violence against women and girls higher up the political agenda. Contacting your candidates and asking them about their intentions is a useful first step. To support our efforts to get all political parties to take domestic violence seriously we urge all of you to use your vote on 8 June.

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Anonymous Voter Registration

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With the news of the upcoming general election, the issue of anonymous voter registration has again come to the fore. Nottinghamshire Rape Crisis Centre have led the way in campaigning on this locally, with huge achievements being made in terms of their consultation with The Electoral Commission and the Cabinet Office, alongside Women’s Aid and Mehala Osborne’s high profile national campaign.

There are three key reasons why the existing provisions for voting anonymously exclude thousands of domestic abuse survivors:

  • The evidence required in order to register anonymously relates exclusively to the criminal justice system – despite the fact that fewer than half of domestic abuse survivors have involved the police
  • The application requires a “letter of attestation” from a narrow range of very senior public sector figures, not easily accessible to most survivors
  • The process ignores the fact that many survivors are at risk for many years, sometimes their whole lives, and should be eligible to register anonymously at any time, with no expiry date

You may remember our jubilation last year when Cabinet Office Minister Chris Skidmore MP committed the Government to removing any barriers that prevent survivors from exercising their democratic rights. He launched a policy document for consultation, with responses due at the end of this month, in time for the local elections next year. However, the calling of a snap general election means that those changes won’t have been implemented in time for June 8th, and many survivors of domestic abuse are facing the same issues as before.

Women’s Aid and the Electoral Commission have therefore produced a short Joint Guide to support survivors of domestic abuse to register to vote anonymously. The guide is aimed at professionals working with survivors, and includes helpful advice on the anonymous registration application process and some frequently asked questions. Please note that the deadline for anonymous voter registration is Wednesday 31 May 2017.

You can download the guide here.

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We’re Hiring – Domestic Abuse Support Worker for Men

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Equation is looking for a passionate, positive individual to join our men’s service team and help provide support to male survivors of domestic abuse.

Working with Equation, you’ll be part of an innovative and award-winning charity who work to prevent and respond to domestic abuse throughout Nottinghamshire.

The successful candidate will be responsible for providing a high-quality service to survivors, enabling them to make long-term positive and sustainable changes in their lives and to recover from the harm of domestic violence and abuse.

The successful candidate will bring with them a thorough understanding of the complexities and effects of domestic violence and experience of undertaking domestic violence risk assessments and managing risk.

Equation are a small, positive and efficient team which will number 20 at the start of the contract.

The post is exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act and the successful applicant will be subject to an enhanced DBS check.

 

Job details

Working hours: 22.5 – 30 hours, to be confirmed. We support flexible working.

Working term: 1-year initial contract, which may be extended subject to funding

Salary: Scale 5 – 6, Spinal Point 22-28, £20,253 – £24, 472 pro rata

 

How to apply

The deadline for applications is 9.00am Thursday the 11th May 2017.

Shortlisted candidates will be invited to interview on Wednesday 17th May 2017.

Email your application to admin@equation.org.uk and we will confirm that we have received it.

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Stalkers are Avoiding Custodial Sentences

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New figures from the Ministry of Justice reveal that offenders convicted of stalking or harassment who repeatedly breach their restraining orders often escape with fines and non-custodial sentences.

Politicians and victim support groups warn that lives are being put at risk by this failure to take action against repeat offenders who habitually breach the orders, which can be imposed for a range of offences including domestic violence and coercive control.

MoJ figures reveal that almost two-thirds of those who breached their orders received a non-custodial sentence. Even when the offender had committed multiple breaches, a custodial term was unlikely.

“Stalking victims are being put at great risk when police, CPS and courts fail to uphold restraining orders and allow breaches to go unpunished,” said Claire Waxman, a stalking survivor who founded the charity Voice4Victims.

“This gives the stalker the belief that their behaviour is acceptable and that the order is meaningless. The victim suffers further trauma as they realise that they are powerless and that this legal intervention does not deter their abuser, nor provide any real security or protection. The victim is left vulnerable and fearful of what will come next.”

Given that a recent study by the University of Gloucestershire found that stalking was present in 94% of the 358 cases of criminal homicides they looked at, this lack of serious consequences for stalking perpetrators is deeply troubling. “Practically every case we looked at featured examples of the obsessive, fixated behaviour that typifies stalking,” researcher Dr Jane Monckton Smith said.

The Suzy Lamplugh Trust, which runs the National Stalking Helpline, warned that failure to take action on stalking could lead to an escalation in violence and potentially death. It called on courts to recognise stalking as a broader problem and pattern of behaviour.

Stalking could present itself in acts such as rearranging a victim’s garden furniture, sending unwanted gifts, loitering on the pavement outside their house, or even calling social services to maliciously report “poor” parenting.

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Activist Guide for Local Elections

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EVAW (The End Violence Against Women Coalition) has launched an ‘activist pack‘ to help anyone who wants to campaign on violence against women and girls find and approach candidates in the 4 May local elections.

On 4 May 2017 there are elections in many parts of the UK, including in Nottinghamshire. Many of those who are elected will have a say in funding decisions and will be well placed to encourage local public services – like the police, health and transport – to prioritise tackling violence against women and girls.

You can use their Activist Guide to help locate candidates and for advice on what to say. They have also created template letters to Local Council candidates and there is a VAWG Factsheet if you need to get hold of local VAWG data for your campaigning.

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Two Thirds of Women in Refuges Have Their Children With Them

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The national domestic abuse charity Women’s Aid is highlighting the number of mothers and children living in domestic abuse refuges, releasing startling new statistics from its Annual Survey 2016.

The Women’s Aid Annual Survey 2016 found that:

● On a typical day, two thirds of women in refuges had their children with them
● On a typical day, 78 women and 78 children were turned away from refuge
● More women and children were turned away from refuges than were let in

Refuges provide life-saving support, shelter and the chance to rebuild lives. However, the long-term future of refuges is in jeopardy due to changes to ‘supported housing’ funding. Refuges are bearing the brunt of local authority funding cuts; the Women’s Aid Annual Survey found that a third of domestic abuse services run part of their service with no dedicated funding at all.

The Government has stepped in with emergency funding several times, but a long term commitment to funding is vital to save refuges and save lives.

 

Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, said:

“We found that, on one typical day in a refuge, two thirds of the women there have their children with them. The horror of domestic abuse – of fleeing your home and running for your life – means that these mothers often struggle to support their traumatised children, who have nothing left of their old lives except for mum.

This is a hugely stressful and painful time. But, the specialist support provided by refuges means that these women and children have the expertise they need to rebuild and recover. They are the lucky ones: due to a lack of space, 78 women and 78 children could be turned away from a refuge on any given day.

In fact, throughout the year, more women and children were turned away from refuges than were able to get in, showing just how huge the demand is for refuges.”

 

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WAIS Survivors Create Historic Change in Legal Aid Across the UK

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Women’s Aid Integrated Services are pleased to announce that the courage and contribution of WAIS service users has brought about a major change in the legal aid system throughout the UK. This will affect every woman going through the family law courts who has experienced domestic violence and abuse.

WAIS were put forward to the Ministry of Justice by Women’s Aid England in August 2016, allowing officials to hear first hand from service users just how the widely criticised rules affected and prevented women from seeking legal representation in disputed family court hearings.

The review of legal aid has led to the government announcing that it will now scrap rules requiring survivors to prove they’ve experienced abuse in the past five years in order to apply for legal aid.

The second major change also means that survivors will be able to draw upon a much wider pool of resources to evidence abuse – which will also include records and statements from domestic abuse charities like WAIS and other organisations working with survivors.

Val Lunn, Chief Executive Officer at WAIS stated “We welcome the changes in the rules. We’re pleased that the Ministry of Justice listened to what survivors had to say and we’re very proud of the women who were willing to share painful and upsetting experiences in order to make the situation better for other women in the future. Our job as an organisation is not just to provide services to women and children but also to highlight unfair rules and systems. This is a victory for women and for common sense”.

Polly Neate, Chief Executive Officer at Women’s Aid England has written a personal letter of thanks to the survivors who attended the meeting. In her letter she wrote “I hope it reassures you to know that your courage was genuinely the deciding factor in achieving change in this case”.

The courage of these women now means that others who find themselves in a similar position can access safety and justice through the law. It wouldn’t have happened without them. We’ll be celebrating with a tea party in April!

Read more in this Guardian article.

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Tougher Sentences for So-Called ‘Revenge Porn’

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The devastating effects of sharing sexual images without consent can never be underestimated, so it is welcome news that the Sentencing Council have launched a consultation on proposed rules for judges and magistrates when punishing so-called ‘revenge porn’ perpetrators in England and Wales.

Revenge porn offenders who send explicit pictures to the families of their victims or who set up websites to magnify their targets’ humiliation will face the most severe penalties under new sentencing proposals.

Circulating revenge pornography carries a maximum jail term of two years, so those who send pictures to their victims’ families or set up websites could soon face prison terms at the upper end of this scale.

The guidelines are the first to give advice to courts under new laws covering the sharing of “private sexual images”, which has only been an offence since April 2015. More than 200 prosecutions have since been brought. Previously, offenders had to be prosecuted under copyright or harassment laws and victims often found it difficult to have images taken down.

Defendants who circulate pictures widely, or in large numbers, will also be placed in the most serious bracket.

Justice Minister Sam Gyimah said: “Revenge porn is an awful abuse of trust which can leave victims feeling humiliated and degraded. It is right that our courts recognise the severity of this crime.”

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