From the 25th November (the International Day for the Elimination of All Forms of Violence Against Women and Girls) and the 10th December (Human Rights Day), groups around the world commit to 16 days of action to end gender-based violence. But work to keep women safe from men’s violence continues all year round. This year, during #16Days, the organisations in Nottingham who provide specialist domestic and sexual violence services look back together on some recent hard-won successes. Here’s what we’ve achieved over the past year that help keep women safer in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire.
It’s #NottACompliment: misogyny in Nottingham became a hate crime
Nottinghamshire Police made history in 2016 as the first force in the country to recognize misogyny as a hate crime. The additional category applies to incidents ranging from street harassment to physical intrusions on women’s space. In the first year, 97 incidents were recorded.
This milestone achievement arose from work by Nottingham Women’s Centre and Nottingham Citizens. “Thanks to [Nottinghamshire’s] police force listening to local women’s organisations, women and girls in Nottingham will receive the message that this kind of behaviour isn’t normal or acceptable, that support is available, and that the problem will be taken seriously.” Laura Bates, The Everyday Sexism Project
Find out more: http://www.nottinghamwomenscentre.com/misogyny-hate-crime/
Local women contributed to a national change in legal aid rules
In August 2016, women supported by charity Women’s Aid Integrated Services (WAIS) met with representatives from the Ministry of Justice as part of a review of widely criticised rules relating to legal aid for child contact and residence disputes. The review led to a Government announcement in February 2017 to scrap rules which required survivors to show they had experienced abuse within the past five years in order to be granted legal aid. Polly Neate, (former) Chief Executive Officer at Women’s Aid England wrote 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”.
Find out more: http://www.wais.org.uk/news.php?id=9
New services were created for survivors of rape and sexual violence
Nottinghamshire Sexual Violence Support Services (formerly Nottinghamshire Rape Crisis) significantly expanded its counselling and other services in 2016, which are now open to anyone who has experienced rape or sexual violence and is aged 13 or over. All clients are now offered a choice of a male or female counsellor, and services are appropriate and safe for all users, including offering services to women in our women-only space.
Find out more: https://nottssvss.org.uk/how-we-can-help/
Scores of women marched together to make Nottingham a safer city
In November 2016, local women, grassroots groups and organisations working to end domestic and sexual violence supported the largest “Reclaim the Night” march in Nottingham’s recent history. 450 women gathered for the vibrant annual march and rally, which demands an end to all forms of men’s violence and harassment against women and girls, and an end to victim-blaming.
“Reclaim the Night sends a message to our leaders that residents and voters care about women’s safety” – Karen Jardine, Notts SVSS Campaigns and Administration Officer
To mark the 40th anniversary of Reclaim the Night, Nottingham’s women will be marching on Saturday 18th November 2017.
Find out more: https://reclaimthenightnottingham.wordpress.com/
Healthy relationships education became available for children of all ages in Nottingham
Children aged 6-11+ in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire can now have access to age-appropriate education on how to have healthy, equal relationships thanks to resources developed in 2017 by domestic abuse prevention charity Equation. The GREAT Connections programme offers teachers a detailed lesson plan and set of engaging learning materials, all designed to help primary school children have healthy connections and access support if needed. Taught across 5 days, GREAT Connections addresses relationships with friends, family and promotes self-esteem and gender equality. Equation will be piloting the project in local schools in 2017 and rolling the scheme out in 2018.
Find out more: https://www.equation.org.uk/great-connections/
Nottingham fought back against Child Sexual Exploitation
Nottingham’s expert sex work outreach organisation POW had excellent success engaging with looked-after young people in Nottingham who may be vulnerable to Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE). The charity’s RAiSE project delivers free early intervention work to prevent CSE and promote positive wellbeing for young people; in the last year, the organisation held 92 intensive one-to-one sessions with young people affected by CSE. As a result of the workshops, “these young people will feel empowered to share their experiences, and feel confident to ask for help in relation to CSE” – Dionne Mundle, POW
More information: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=YAyCYK_5hgg
Women in refuge received more support to live free from abuse
Umuada, a twelve-bed women’s refuge, successfully recruited an independent volunteer advocate to help survivors with day-to-day living. Survivors at the refuge now receive support to integrate into the local area, including groups and communities. Umuada’s new worker can now advocates on behalf of the survivors and attends appointments until they feel comfortable to attend on their own.
Umuada has also expanded support women for survivors subject to immigration control. The new support is available for women with no access to public funds, who would ordinarily struggle to access refuge due to their legal status and language barriers. Being able to secure a right to remain in the country and access benefits allows women to move on safely into their own accommodation and live a life free from abuse.
Find out more: https://careandsupport.ncha.org.uk/umuada
A record number of women received domestic abuse support
In 2016-17, a record number of women accessed domestic abuse support provided by Women’s Aid Integrated Services (WAIS). The charity supported 5,080 women, 59 teenage girls and 612 children across Nottingham and South Nottinghamshire. The 24-hour domestic abuse and sexual violence helpline answered 10,371 calls and the Pet’s Project fostered 65 pets. This is the highest number of survivors ever supported by WAIS in a 12 month period.
Find out more: http://www.wais.org.uk/viewpage.php?page_id=2
A new place of safety was opened for women fleeing domestic abuse
In the past year, women in Nottinghamshire gained a new place of safety from domestic abuse. Women’s Aid Integrated Services (WAIS) opened Serenity, a new refuge project in Ashfield, which had never before had a refuge service. The six self-contained properties are ideally suited for women with older boy children, or larger families who might not be able to access shared refuge accommodation. During the year, 26 women and 54 children were accommodated and of these, 18 families were helped to move on into new tenancies of their own, free from domestic abuse. The refuge was opened in partnership with Ashfield District Council, and with funding from the Department for Communities and Local Government.
Find out more: http://www.wais.org.uk/viewpage.php?page_id=13
A bold partnership was formed to bring lasting change for survivors
Nottingham and Nottinghamshire became one of three areas in the country to pilot a new model of working with domestic abuse survivors. The City and County is piloting Change that Lasts, developed by Women’s Aid Federation of England in consultation with survivors and member services. It offers an exciting opportunity to pilot a new model of working with survivors and share in local and national learning about how to keep women safe. Informed by survivor and professional feedback and best practice research, Change that Lasts places the survivor and her needs at the heart of its response. Funded by the Big Lottery, the first of the three schemes launches in Autumn 2017.
Ordinary people learned how to help friends experiencing domestic abuse
In 2016-2017, a new campaign in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire helped thousands of people understand how to save their friends from the harm of domestic abuse. For the first time, residents were given tools to recognise if someone close to them is experiencing abuse, and to help their friends reach expert support. Domestic abuse prevention charity Equation trialled the #HelpAFriend campaign using attention-grabbing social media and print, and several giveaway events. The aim was to increase the number of women accessing the 24-hour domestic and sexual violence helpline (0808 800 0340), run by Women’s Aid Integrated Services, which receives c.10,000 calls each year.
Find out more: https://www.equation.org.uk/helpafriendcampaign/
Survivors of domestic abuse re-gained a fundamental democratic right
In September 2017 the government announced plans to make it easier for survivors of domestic violence, stalking and harassment to register anonymously on the Electoral Register. This will enable survivors to vote without being traced by perpetrators.
The change came after a sustained national campaign, which received substantial support from Nottingham’s local domestic and sexual violence organisations. Nottinghamshire Sexual Violence Support Services (Notts SVSS) hosted a petition, coordinated local feedback, and met the Electoral Commission to discuss concerns along with Women’s Aid Integrated Services and Nottingham Women’s Centre. “We are delighted that survivors will now be able to make their democratic voice heard” Karen Jardine, Notts SVSS Campaigns and Administration Officer
Community workers learned how to respond to complex cases of domestic abuse
Hundreds of people working on the frontline in Nottingham’s communities were able to learn about how to respond to complex cases of domestic abuse in the past year, thanks to a greatly expanded training programme from domestic abuse prevention charity Equation. 1600 people, ranging from social and children’s workers to housing and police officers, attended new domestic abuse training on girls affected by gangs, multiple perpetrators, vulnerable adults, substance misuse and complex needs, and female genital mutilation (FGM). Training sessions covered identifying risk indicators and pathways to support, improving the response to abuse in the local community.
Find out more: www.equation.org.uk/training
This celebration of successes in Nottingham towards ending male violence against women and girls was written by Nottingham City Domestic and Sexual Violence Campaigns Group. The group brings together Nottingham’s leading organisations working to end domestic and sexual violence, to facilitate joint campaigns. Members include:
Equation, Women’s Aid Integrated Services, Nottinghamshire Sexual Violence Support Services, Nottingham Women’s Centre, POW, Nottingham Community Housing Association, Nottingham Crime and Drugs Partnership, Nottingham Trent University Feminist Society