A year of challenging violence against women and girls: 2016-17

From the 25th November (the International Day for the Elimination of All Forms of Violence
Against Women and Girls) and the 10 th 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
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
“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 40 th anniversary of Reclaim the Night, Nottingham’s women marched on
Saturday 18th November 2017.
Find out more: https://reclaimthenightnottingham.wordpress.com/

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.
Find out more:

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
More information:

Healthy relationships education became available for children of all ages in

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/

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

Our thoughts on women-only train carriages

I am not the problem.

My MP Chris Williams hit the news this week when he suggested we look at the merit of women-only carriages in response to the number of reported sexual offences on trains doubling over the last 5 years. The first thing to say is that it doesn’t follow that there are now more sexual offences, an increase in reporting usually means that people feel more confident that they’ll be taken seriously if they come forward to talk about their experiences. So well done to British Transport Police for their campaigns to encourage reporting. Transport companies are often reluctant to admit there is a problem as they believe it will put women off travelling but women tell us companies not addressing it is what puts them off.

So let’s talk about the issue of safety and how we can improve it. I don’t believe asking us to travel in a women-only area is the solution. This approach makes me feel like I’m the problem. So if I weren’t there dressing and acting like I want then none of this would happen? Because, well, boys will be boys? This victim blaming is wrong. As a society we need to address the real problem – men should respect women and not be allowed to believe it’s OK to harass us.

Did you see the recent BBC programme No More Boys And Girls? It wanted to see if we remove all differences in the way boys and girls are treated can we even out gaps in their achievement? Dr Javid Abdelmoneim, who ran the experiment for 6 weeks, says he knows there are basic biological differences between the sexes, but he believes our biology can’t fully explain why men and women’s life chances – from pay, to careers – are still so unequal in the UK. The results found boys treated their sisters better, girls spoke in front of the class for the first time and boys and girls said they thought boys and girls were equal. That’s the sort of society I want to live in.

But since we’re not there yet I think there is a place for women-only spaces and Nottingham Women’s Centre is one of them. A space where women who have been made to feel vulnerable, can feel safe while they find their voice and confidence again or maybe they just want to surround themselves with friendly female faces for a while or learn a new skill. So I’m not saying women-only spaces don’t play a role, services for women run by women are essential but we’re often repairing the damage men have done, lets address that and then perhaps I’ll be out of a job!

Helen Voce, CEO.