The One Billion Rising events in Lambeth on February 14th were a great success! The Ritzy Cinema event sold out, with people packed out of the room and down the stairs! Further screenings are being arranged to meet demand! People came from all over the borough and reflected the true diversity of the residents and workers within Lambeth. Many thanks to Sarah Rabbitts who helped introduce with a summary of the day's debate in Parliament about making relationship education a compulsory part of the national curriculum.
The flash mob led by Wippersnappers After School Club was really well attended. Ebony Clarke did a fantastic job at organising this. Whilst it was great fun, it carried a serious message. A wonderful banner was created in the One Billion Rising design, using hand prints from children with special needs. This was a real achievement as some of the participants wouldn't have even had the confidence to go out in public a year ago, let alone hold a banner at a public event attended by well over a hundred people! This just goes to show how the good work of Wippersnappers projects are making a difference and having an impact in the community. It is a true testimony of their journey from giving evidence at a Parliamentary Select Committee a year ago as part of the Movement for Change and Women's Safety Charter campaigns.
As the sun set, Windrush Square filled with dancers, FRSA member, Pax Nindi's especially composed music was twinkling away wonderfully and there couldn't have been a better atmosphere. Comments included: "We had three generations of our family there", "I just didn't want to go home" and "we want more!". Local councillors Martin Tiedemman, Florence Nosegbe, Rachel Heywood and Leader of Lambeth Council, Lib Peck were amongst some of the attendees. An evening event organised by local activist, Catriona Ogilvy had some wonderfully inspiring speakers.
This is the clearest indication yet that those living and working in Lambeth have a real appetite for change, that people really care very much about their environment and the quality of life of those around them and that they are willing to come forward and do something about it. We are not waiting for change, we are that change! People are no longer willing to accept bullying in the playground, having to take a detour on the way home to avoid sexual harassment outside local shops, putting up with financial, emotional, physical and sexual abuse at home or in the workplace. People are standing up and saying enough is enough. Encouragingly people are asking "how can we make change happen in a positive way". I firmly believe this is key to instigating a sustainable and long lasting shift in behaviours, attitudes and self perception - all key factors in VAWG. We need people on board on a can-do basis. We don't want to alienate people, we want to build bridges, encourage positive behaviour. We want men and boys to be as much a part of this change as women and girls. We want to ask "why" as well as "how" certain attitudes are deemed appropriate. By encouraging the understanding of positive relationships we can help others to draw the line of what is and isn't acceptable.
Unfortunately from the research I have undertaken, the main problem seems to be that there is a significant lack of understanding of what the basics of violence against women and girls actually are. Until some grey areas are clarified and people can identify themselves accurately as victims or perpetrators then certain behaviour will continued to be deemed acceptable and "normalised" into society. Combating this by challenging some prevailing attitudes and root causes will form a key part of legacy activity.
The films were well received and I will be working hard to try and get them shown in local cinemas during the advertising slots before major features so they can reach out to wider audiences. I am determined to give a voice to hard to reach communities. Did you know that one in two disabled women is beaten or raped in a lifetime? This worse than the appalling one in three stats of non-disabled women. It's horrific, yet how often do we hear of this in newspapers and domestic violence campaigns? Disabled women are not invisible. Some are very vulnerable and alot more needs to be done to protect them and tackle the causes behind these monstrous levels of abuse.
Already work is underway and part of the project included asking local school children to create portraits of female role models to promote positive identification and attribution. Drama workshops followed a similar theme but focussed on role play and debate as a delivery mechanism. Discussions took place as to what a role model meant and how important it is to acknowledge positive behaviour and to use this as a guide in taking personal responsibility in our own behaviour. I think it is essential to understand that in order to combat abuse against women and girls, we ALL have our part to play, in our jobs, in our roles as family members, friends and partners. If we all do our own little bit to promote positive behaviour and attitudes and to deter the negative, then TOGETHER we can make a transformational difference.
For more information about the films and the One Billion Rising campaign Lambeth go to: