365 Days of Action
25th November marked the beginning of the White Ribbon Campaign, an initiative that was born in Canada in the early nineties, following an act of terror in which a Canadian male killed 14 women on a university campus, claiming he was motivated to do so as he was ‘fighting feminism’. To give context to the importance of the subsequent work carried out in the aftermath of this incident, this still remains the deadliest mass shooting in Canadian history.
The campaign was the result of a group of men banding together in order to address what they deemed as fundamental issues within modern society, by responding to the high proportion of violence being committed against woman by men, with the ‘white ribbon’ symbolising the idea of men giving up their arms. The ethos driving the campaign, particularly in the early days, was the belief that educating people, especially adolescent males, in the most common reasons for domestic violence and by concentrating on promoting healthy relationships, gender equality and a compassionate view of masculinity, society would be tackling the cause of these issues at their core.
As of today, the campaign is active in over 60 countries and continues to push a progressive agenda that lives up to its motto: ‘Men working to end Men’s violence against Women’.
Complementing the work of the White Ribbon Organisation, is the ’16 Days of Action’ campaign that also started on the 25th November. While the White Ribbon campaign and the 16 Days of Action campaigns complement each other, the latter brings attention to domestic violence across the board, highlighting all factions of society affected by this problem, including men, who can also be victims of domestic violence.
The statistics highlight the importance of the work which is still needed to protect everyone from domestic violence. For example:
- 25% of women are affected by domestic violence within their adult lifetime;
- 16% of men are affected by domestic violence within their adult lifetime;
For employers, it is important to be aware that up to 75% of all people who experience domestic violence will be targeted via their abuser while at work.
Although it is important to understand the statistics, it is even more important to make sure all appropriate action is being taken to create environments in which anyone; service user or employee can and will ask for help.
So, how do we do this at Community Links? Firstly, we have worked hard to be awarded the ‘Safer Leeds – Level 2 Domestic Violence and Abuse Quality Mark’. In achieving this, we have installed Safeguarding and Domestic Violence Champions in each service, ensuring we meet regularly to review and implement any required actions throughout the organisation, with champions receiving special training in regards to domestic violence.
We also place a high importance on looking at case studies such as ‘Domestic Homicide Reviews’ to ensure we are learning any lessons and responding accordingly. This year alone we have raised awareness of organisations such as ‘Karma Nirvana’ so we can best support victims of ‘honour based abuse’, as well as improving our links with interpreting services so everyone has a chance to be heard.
The above group of ‘champions’ also work hard to make sure we stay abreast of the specialist services available to support people who may be victims of domestic abuse. This includes ensuring our organisational policies, designed to support both service users and employees, are up to date with the most helpful advice should it be needed at any time.
For me, as the organisations Safeguarding and Domestic Violence Lead, the most important part of what the organisation must do is continuously strive to create an environment that fosters open and honest conversations, with the aim that anyone at any time can feel like they will be met with unconditional support and the most appropriate advice, should they need it. After all, domestic violence and poor mental health are closely linked, with both sharing the same reality: the simple fact that they don’t discriminate with the potential to impact anyone, no matter who you are.
So while the White Ribbon Campaign and the 16 Days of Action Initiative serve as brilliant ways to take stock of the work we all must do in safeguarding people from domestic violence, we must be taking action 365 days of the year so that, as Mahatma Ghandi once said, we can ‘be the change you want to see in the world’.
Please note, links to the referenced organisations/initiatives can be found by clicking on the below links:
Will Goode, Operational Manager