PCC John Campion has been hearing more from the communities about their experiences of violence against women and girls (VAWG).
Since the tragic death of Sarah Everard in March 2021, VAWG has been on many agendas. PCC John Campion’s mission is for this to be talked about, even when it isn’t hitting the headlines, and believes a societal change is needed. This inspired the activities undertaken during the last month with DPCC Tracey Onslow and APCC Nicola Lowery.
During March, various activities were hosted and visits were made across West Mercia with women and girls, men and boys. The visits ranged from meeting students at schools, university students, self-defence groups, volunteer organisations, meeting with survivors of VAWG and organisers of perpetrator programmes. Alongside these visits, to hear the voices of the community, a series of VAWG dedicated podcasts were hosted to hear from experts from West Mercia Women’s Aid, West Mercia Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre, Women’s Equality Party and the Domestic Abuse lead for West Mercia Police.
The PCC has funded nearly £4,000 into self-defence classes across the counties to empower women to feel safe in their community, with classes being hosted in Worcester, Leominster and Stourport upon Severn. These sessions have the aim of supporting women to feel prepared should they ever need it. DPCC Tracey Onslow and APCC Nicola Lowery attended these sessions in Leominster and Stourport-upon-Severn to meet with the women taking part in the training and hear what it means to them to be offered their training for free. Alongside this, individuals were offered personal safety alarms and advice for personal reassurance.
PCC John Campion said: “Ensuring women and girls are heard and can share their views and opinions about the impact of VAWG is essential to encouraging a societal change, what I have heard has been inspiring. Many of those spoken to were pleased to have been invited to open up and share their views. I understand the privilege I have as a man and I wanted women from right across West Mercia to feel comfortable in being able to speak up.
“I know that societal change will not happen overnight but want this conversation with women and girls to continue. Engaging with all areas of the community must also continue and the education of men and boys to encourage change will understandably last far beyond this month of action.”