This month PCC John Campion is continuing to highlight the impact of Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG) on society with the focus of educating, encouraging a societal change, engaging with the community and empowering women and girls.
VAWG has featured heavily in the headlines in the last year following the tragic death of Sarah Everard, with the first anniversary of her death falling on 4th March. Despite this horrific crime taking place in London, it sent shockwaves across the whole country and brought concern regarding the safety of woman and girls throughout West Mercia. Sarah’s death encouraged people to protest for better protection of women and girls, and gave a voice to those who have been in fear. It also encouraged people to call out unacceptable norms that women and girls have long been accepting.
PCC John Campion funds a number of organisations and projects that support VAWG victims, as well as perpetrator initiatives that focus on changing behaviour. The PCC has also funded over 10,000 personal safety alarms which have been distributed to women and girls across West Mercia.
Deputy PCC Tracey Onslow and Assistant PCC Nicola Lowery will be doing a takeover across March, encouraging women and girls to speak up and others to listen. They will be out and about across the force area meeting with the VAWG community, and giving them a platform to voice their concerns.
As part of the takeover, they will be hosting the Safer West Mercia podcast and speaking to those at the forefront of protecting women’s safety, such as West Mercia Women’s Aid, West Mercia Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre, the domestic abuse lead for West Mercia Police, Worcestershire’s Women’s Equality Party and a brave survivor of non-recent rape.
Over the month, visits will also be made to local schools, universities, rehabilitation centres and community groups including boxing and self-defence classes – which have been funded by the PCC.
PCC John Campion said: “I personally have never experienced the impact of violence against women and girls, I have never walked in their shoes, feared walking alone, or made changes to my behaviour to make myself feel safer. However, I understand the privilege I have as a man to not experience this. But this does not stop me wanting to support and put in place support for women and girls right across West Mercia to make them feel safer.
“This month of raising awareness is not where it starts and stops, I want to encourage a societal change and empower women to be able to continue to live in a safe and secure community. Men need to be educated on appropriate behaviour and call out peers on their inappropriate comments and actions. Together we will make a safer West Mercia.”