Looking back on White Ribbon in 2023


Luke Medcalf – our Development Manager for Inequalities has written a blog about his work delivering White Ribbon training, which aims to end male violence against women and girls.

“Well, that was a busy one! This years White Ribbon campaign saw me working in 3 different counties, delivering to dozens of different agencies and also working alongside some of the biggest sports organisations in our area! All with the aim to help share the message that male violence against women and girls is a shared responsibility and that is has to stop. The work in the last few months has been in the planning for around 6 months and it has been really exciting and inspiring to work alongside and collaborate with so many amazing people and organisations.

On 18th October, in partnership with the ever supportive HEY Confident Futures, I ran an event to raise awareness about the White Ribbon campaign, hoping to inspire people to make the pledge to Never Use, Excuse or Remain Silent about Male Violence Against Women. From this I hoped that people would then take this message out into their work and social lives and I am happy to say that this has happened. Among the attendees at Commun’Ull café, were two members of staff from Hull’s perpetrator organisation, Strength to Change. It was invaluable having their insight into this topic and it turned into an amazingly informative session for everyone involved.

The next event I spoke at was again in partnership with HEY Confident Futures, in the ERVAS Community Hub in Bridlington. This was the first time I had spoke about White Ribbon outside of Hull and I was a bit nervous about how the information would transfer, especially as my understanding of local support agencies was not as in depth as it is in Hull. The people who attended were really forthcoming and engaged and this meant that we actually ran over time! The conversations within the discussion in Bridlington that day took us in lots of different directions but one in particular was really interesting to me and that was about how masculinity and our views of what that means can affect our parenting styles. I believe this is really present within how our children and young people engage with sport and physical activity and how parents quite often can distract and take away from the fundamental enjoyment of sport and physical activity through intense pressure. The campaign https://www.scottishfa.co.uk/news/let-them-play-message-at-heart-of-grassroots-game/ has some brilliant information on how best to recognise and deal with this issue.

Throughout the past few years I have been involved in the planning and delivery of how the White Ribbon campaign is brought into schools. Through a partnership approach, the offer for Hulls Primary Schools is absolutely brilliant. The children learn about healthy relationships through a toolkit developed by the fantastic team at Hull Women’s Aid. They then have the opportunity to meet Humberside Police, Humberside Fire and Rescue and the Fire Services trained dogs, who have all signed up to support the campaign and provide a visible presence all year round thanks to the graphic wraps on their vehicles. The secondary schools, however, have proven to be a difficult nut to crack. This year my focus has been on changing that! I managed to engage with Hull FC and Hull KR and they agreed to provide 2 players each to attend a secondary school assembly where the students would learn about the campaign via a Youth Advocate training session.

For the secondary school offer to take shape though I needed to increase the capacity of the people able to offer this and I did this by delivering a Train the Trainer session hosted by The Warren Youth Project in Hull on 17th November. This session was attended by staff from the NHS School Nursing teams, Women’s Aid, Hull City Council and The Warren. Each one of the people attending this is now able to go into their workplaces and engage 14-18 year olds in the White Ribbon Campaign. From this training, Lydia (The Warren) alongside Becky (Women’s Aid) went into Archbishop Sentamu on the 6th Decemer and delivered an assembly to the full Year 9 alongside Hull FC and Hull KR. What a brilliant demonstration that, as a sector, we are stronger if we collaborate and work together. As well as this, the role that sport and physical activity, in this instance FC and KR, have been able to play will forever cement the message that Rugby League in Hull cares about making sure we see an end to Male Violence Against Women. Absolutely brilliant! The day after my partners delivered in Archbishop myself and Nathan (School Nursing) delivered the same assembly to the full Year 9 group of students at Sirius West. We hope to expand this to include all the schools in Hull next year.

On the topic of collaboration and expansion, this year we have done more than I ever could have hoped for. I was incredibly proud to be asked by North Yorkshire Sport to deliver an in person and an online White Ribbon Training event in York on the 5th December. This event took place at York Sport Ground, again cementing sports place within this topic, and was well attended by staff from community sports clubs, arts charities and even people from Foundation, the North Yorkshire Perpetrator organisation. I cannot thank North Yorkshire Sport enough for arranging these sessions, I feel they were really brilliant.

So, to summarise, this year Active Humber have been able to link sport and physical activity into the White Ribbon campaign on 7 separate occasions, with over 200 people, across 3 counties and with dozens of organisations, some of which we had never had any involvement with before. It really does feel like the Humber is slowly but surely becoming a safer place for women and girls to be. Having said that, unfortunately, this is something that we can’t take for granted. We need to make sure that we are active parts of the solution.

For more information about the White Ribbon campaign and how you can get involved go to www.whiteribbon.org.uk to find out more.

Thank you to all of the organisations I have mentioned within this blog, if you would like to find out more about them please visit their websites below:

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