Guest Post – Rebecca Jones on anti-sectarianism awareness

Mixing The Colours is a Glasgow Women’s Library project funded by the Scottish Government as part of Action on Tackling Sectarianism. Rebecca Jones is a Project Assistant and was a judge in the College’s recent ‘Pitch Perfect’ competition.

Since 2013, the Glasgow Women’s Library Mixing The Colours: Women Speaking About Sectarianism project has been working with women all over Scotland, offering them the opportunity to share their perceptions and experiences of sectarianism, and to contribute to a new, unique collection of freely accessible resources which tell the story of women’s experiences of sectarianism, both past and present.

The Mixing The Colours: Women Speaking About Sectarianism creative writing anthology was published by Glasgow Women’s Library in March 2015, and features short stories and poetry by some of the women who participated in the project. The Mixing The Colours project now also offers a film, podcasts and a range of multimedia resources, recording and celebrating women’s contribution to the discussion and debate around sectarianism in Scotland over the last three years.

On 9th May 2016 I was delighted to be asked to represent the Mixing The Colours project in judging the Nil By Mouth Pitch Perfect competition in association with Ayrshire College. The competition saw three groups of students from Ayr, Kilmarnock and Kilwinning campuses pitch their ideas for an anti-sectarianism awareness campaign to a panel of three judges.


Pitch Perfect presented the students with an exciting and challenging brief; not only were they to design a vibrant and viable marketing campaign from the ground up, but they also had to pitch their campaign in a way which would convince the judges of the quality and originality of their research and the mileage of their bespoke anti-sectarianism awareness campaign. I was excited to see what they would come up with.

All three of the groups presented remarkably high quality and original work. The students from Ayr and Kilmarnock campuses pitched two very strong ideas for mobile phone apps offering a variety of resources and functions to help inform users about what sectarianism is and what they can do to tackle it, while the group from Kilwinning campus pitched a campaign encouraging fellow students to think about the consequences of comments they make, and the language they use, on social media.

It was both inspiring and encouraging to see that the three groups had really taken the time to research sectarianism, and to think carefully about what their audience would want from an anti-sectarianism campaign. It was clear to me that they had really thought about what kind of campaign that would work best in a college environment, and about how sectarianism impacts on the lives of the people who use college campuses day by day.

All three groups pitched their campaigns in very different ways, and their enthusiasm for their work shone through when they responded to questions put to them by the judges. As Mixing The Colours works to locate women’s voices in discussions about how sectarianism is experienced, I was particularly excited to see that the students recognised that sectarianism affects different people differently, and that it has intersections which include gender and age. This really demonstrated that the students had chosen to ‘unpick’ the issue to truly understand it, and to build their campaigns on the foundation that people are all different, with different stories to tell.

The high standard of all of the pitches made choosing a winner extremely difficult. In the end, the panel agreed that the students from Ayr campus had produced the strongest campaign, pitched in the most original way. Their proposal for a mobile phone app, which offered educational resources and facts about sectarianism and the law, made really original use of film and digital media, and the judges were very impressed that we were actually able to see a prototype of the app in action as part of the pitch! I’m looking forward to seeing how this very talented group of students will now work with Ayrshire College and Nil By Mouth to make their innovative ideas a reality.

My congratulations to all of the students who presented their ideas on 9th May for all of your hard work and commitment – you’ve made a positive and meaningful contribution to improving equality and diversity and challenging bigotry. I also extend my thanks to Sara Turkington and all staff at Ayrshire College and Nil By Mouth for organising this Pitch Perfect competition and for inviting Mixing The Colours to be a part of it!

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