Ayrshire College Award winner – St Matthews Academy

Continuing from our blog series about the Ayrshire College Trophy winners, Rachel Floyd and Cole Archibald, today we meet Evan Rush.

Evan received the award from St Matthews Academy in Saltcoats for his demonstration of Leadership. He was one of the pupils that attended Mission Discovery at Ayrshire College in June 2016.


What did you do to achieve an award for Leadership Skills?

I achieved this award by showing leadership skills both within and out with the school. For example, I represented my school at meetings with members of the local council, as well as acting as a Class Representative, feeding back concerns and opinions of the pupils in my class to the year head.  I also attended the Mission Discovery program at Ayrshire College, where I took on the role as group leader, ensuring everyone within my group had an equal part to play, and to make sure the group ran smoothly as a team to achieve the best result possible.   In addition to this, I recently gave a speech to the new S4, delivering tips on how to prepare for their first ever set of exams.

Have you continued to develop your Leadership skills in S5?

Yes. I continue to play a vocal role within my class, helping and motivating others whenever I have the opportunity.

Do you enjoy being a Leader?

I really enjoy being a Leader as it allows me to help other people to bring out their best qualities.

What do you think the most important thing about being a good leader is?

I think the most important thing about being a leader is making sure that everyone in your group is involved, recognising their individual strengths, and ensuring each person has an equal opportunity to contribute and give their opinions.

When did you find out you had won the award?

I found out I had won the award when it was announced at the St Matthew’s Senior Awards Ceremony.

How did it make you feel winning the award?

I was extremely proud of myself because I did not expect to win the award.

What are your ambitions for the next year?

I hope to pass all of my higher exams, but I also want to contribute to the school and wider community in any way possible.

What are you hoping to do when you have left school?

I hope to study Engineering at University when I leave school.

As we were unable to interview everyone that won the Ayrshire College Trophy we would like to mention Yasmin Thornburn (Auchinleck Academy), Eloise Lawler (Prestwick Academy), Harry Smith (Ayr Academy)  and Lorna Brody (Loudon Academy who were awarded the trophy by their school.

School College courses are an excellent way for pupils to study a vocational subject that they may not have otherwise had access to at school. Pupils gain transferable skills and experience from studying these courses. Often pupils have no vocational work experience to put on their CV or write about in applications for Modern Apprenticeships, College courses or University courses. Studying a school college course gives pupils a head start for their future.

If you would like to find out more information about school college courses please click here.

Ayrshire College Trophy Winners – James Hamilton Academy

Today we are continuing with our blog series of the Ayrshire College Trophy Winners from Ayrshire’s Secondary Schools. James Hamilton Academy awarded their trophy to Cole Archibald.

We have interviewed Cole previously as part of our school college partnership courses blog series.


We caught up with Cole after he received the award.

Why did James Hamilton Academy award you the Ayrshire College Trophy?

During my 4th year at school I choose to study Uniformed Services at Ayrshire College two afternoons a week, along with my other school subjects.

What kind of activities did you do that helped you achieve the award?

As part of the course I played Volley Ball, which I really enjoyed. The lecturer saw that I liked it and asked me to join the College Volley Ball team. I played for the team during my course. I also did well in the course and my subjects at school.

Are you continuing with these activities in 5th year?

As I am not studying at the college at the moment I am no longer on the Volley Ball Team, but I am still actively involved in sports in my spare time. I am looking forward to starting at the College when I have left school.

Did you enjoy the Uniformed Services course?

Yes, I thought it was brilliant. When I was making my subject choices in 3rd year I was excited to see it was an option I could take. I really enjoyed going to College during the week. It is a different environment from school.

What was your favourite part of the course?

I liked all of the sports activities we got to do, especially football and volley ball. There was quite a lot of theory and homework in the course but it was easy to balance with my school work. I enjoyed the mix of school and college.

When did you find out you had won the award?

A letter was sent home from school to tell me I had won an award and I went to prize giving to collect it.

How did it make you feel winning the award?

I was so proud of myself. I didn’t think it would be me that would win the award.

What are you ambitions for the next year?

I am starting a Modern Apprenticeship soon in welding and fabrication with Annandale Design. I will be coming back to Ayrshire College to complete it.

I applied not long ago for the apprenticeship and interviewed for the opportunity. I have always wanted to do welding and fabrication as that’s what my dad does. He has taken me into the workshop already to help me get started.

When do you start the Modern Apprenticeship?

I have to wait until I turn 16 years old, so I will be able to leave school after Christmas. I turn 16 on a Friday and start my Modern Apprenticeship on the Monday. I am very excited to start. I did think about staying on for 5th year but this is the job I want to do and feel this is a great pathway for me.

Lesley Miller, Deputy Head Teacher from James Hamilton Academy, commented

“Cole was very enthusiastic about the sporting side of his course and was proud to tell me that he had been chosen to play in the volleyball team.

It was the correct course for Cole to follow and he enjoyed having the opportunity to spend his time between school and college.”


#16daysAyrshire: Christmas thoughts

Sheena Campbell, Strategy and Violence against Women Coordinator, North Ayrshire Council, completes our #16daysAyrshire blog series.

Sheena has a wide experience in leading and supporting work to reduce violence against women and previously worked at North Ayrshire Women’s Aid.

It’s that time of year when the thoughts of most of us have turned to Christmas,  buying presents, planning Christmas dinner, looking forward to relaxing, watching Christmas movies and spending time with friends and family.

Sadly however, it is not the same for everybody. For those who are living in poverty, are homeless and/or living with domestic abuse (and/or the impact of other forms of male violence against women), fear, anxiety and exhaustion are as much a part of Christmas as every other day, and sometimes even more so.

Everywhere we go, everything we see and hear, sparkling lights in our communities, happy loving families in beautifully decorated homes in adverts, reminds us of this joyful time of celebration, love and companionship, which simply magnifies the depression, misery and sense of isolation for many people and families in our communities.

1 in 3 women will experience domestic abuse at some point in their lives.  If you are affected, you are far from being alone and there are organisations, and many individuals in our communities, who understand, won’t judge, and are more than willing to listen and support.

25th November marked the start of the International 16 Days of Action to end male Violence against Women and Girls. It is a time when men and women, who are actively engaged in working to raise awareness about, and reduce male violence, are out and about campaigning, in our schools, communities and workplaces.

As the recently appointed lead officer for the North Ayrshire Violence against Women Partnership, I have responsibility for coordinating activities for our area. A fruitful collaboration with Ayrshire College has resulted in five different events during the 16 Days of Action, across all campuses. Sexual Exploitation and Healthy Relationships, Violence against Women in the Workplace and Bystander workshops have taken place over the last two weeks, as well as an information and support pop-up stall in Kilwinning campus. Many partner agencies were involved in delivering these events including North and South Ayrshire Women’s Aid groups, White Ribbon Scotland and North Ayrshire Child Protection.

It was clear from the discussions that took place during these events, that staff and students are already aware of the prevalence and impact of domestic abuse and are well placed to provide support to those in need. They also have the understanding that domestic abuse can impact on men as well as women, and in same-sex relationships. However, such events always spark further conversations, actions and growing working partnerships, which will ensure that both students and staff have a more in-depth understanding of the underlying causes, the impacts, and how to most effectively support their friends and colleagues and help them to keep themselves safe.

My best wishes to you all for a safe and peaceful Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year, and I look forward to future visits to your college as our partnership grows.

For further information about support services please visit:


Perpetrators and the criminal justice system – some reflections

Justina Murray has worked as Chief Officer with South West Scotland Community Justice Authority since 2010. Prior to this she worked in a variety of partnership, policy and research roles in Scotland and New Zealand.

Here Justina details why it is important we also support the perpetrators of crimes like stalking if we all want to live in a safer and stronger Scotland.

You can contact the College’s Student Services teams or organisations like Women’s Aid if you or anyone you know requires support.

I was privileged to stand alongside colleagues from Action against Stalking, Police Scotland and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service to launch the Victim Impact Box on 25 November at College Development Network.

Given my role is to work in partnership with others to reduce re-offending, I was tasked with presenting on the topic of ‘Perpetrators and the Criminal Justice System’.  It’s not often I find myself struggling to think what to say, but when I sat down to write my presentation, the words didn’t fly off the keyboard the way they usually do.

I thought about how I had first heard Ann Moulds speak publicly about her soul-destroying, frustrating and at times humiliating experience of stalking – not only at the hands of her stalker, but also at the hands of the justice system itself, which undoubtedly re-victimised her and made a bad situation even worse.

I thought about the commitments she had made to use the exhausting and debilitating impact of being a victim of crime to improve the response for other victims of stalking, and how much good progress had been made in terms of supporting the reporting, investigation and prosecution of stalking.

But when I thought about what happens next – once someone accused of stalking appears in court, I concluded there had been far better progress at the earlier stages of the justice system than we have managed at these later stages in terms of supporting and challenging perpetrators to acknowledge and change their behaviour.

There has been good progress in terms of policy and legislation. Not only Ann’s achievement around legislation specifically on stalking, but also the wider developments around strengthening legislation around domestic abuse and the development of the Equally Safe strategy. There is no doubt that our political leaders continue to recognise the impact of violence against women and have been reasonably proactive in tackling it.

The same goes for practice by a number of criminal justice agencies – individual police forces and now Police Scotland have made huge strides away from seeing incidents of coercive control as ‘just as a domestic’, and there is definitely more support to report, better investigative methods, and a presumption to charge. Official statistics also suggest reasonably high rates of prosecution and conviction compared to other crimes.

There are a number of robust accredited stalking risk tools which can help professionals assess and manage individual cases in the community and in prison. However cases which result in an admonishment, a fine, a low-level Community Payback Order (such as unpaid work without supervision) or a short prison sentence will not enable this level of response – there is limited opportunity to work with the perpetrator on any issues at all. Although statistics are not available for sentencing outcomes specifically on stalking (as they are published together as ‘Group 6: Breach of the Peace offences’), I would make the assumption that these kinds of sentences together make up the majority of disposals if they reflect the wider trends around sentencing for domestic abuse.

We need to see a response which enables more intensive work with people on an individual basis to challenge and change their behaviour. I am no apologist for perpetrators, but are there many happy, well-adjusted stalkers? I suspect we are dealing with many people – mainly men – who are damaging to others but also damaged themselves.

This must be the focus of our future work together. We know this will take resources, effort and a belief that people can take responsibility, reflect on their actions, be supported to change and live a productive and meaningful life. Only by doing this can we significantly reduce the number of victims in the future and create the safer and stronger Scotland we all want to see.

Blow the whistle on domestic violence

Continuing with our series of blogs for the 16 days of action, David Dougan, a Sports and Fitness Lecturer at our Kilmarnock Campus, shares his thoughts around why it is important that we all act as role models in promoting and embodying the message that any type of abuse is unacceptable.

David was recently nominated for the ‘Campaigner of the Year’ award at The Herald Society Awards.

David and his NC Sports class have been instrumental in organising the College 5-a-side football tournament ‘Blow the whistle on domestic violence’. This was held on Monday 5th of December and also saw some guest players from Police Scotland take part.

David Dougan.jpg

College changed my life when I was 18 and gave me a second chance to succeed in a career I am passionate about.

My lecturers acted as role models for me and really inspired me not only to become a lecturer but to become a better person. I feel so privileged that in my job I have the power to positively influence the lives of so many young adults on a daily basis.

I firmly believe that teaching is also about encouraging and supporting our students to be better people in their communities. For me that means challenging the inequalities we see around us. With my NC Sports class, I lead on and participate in the College’s annual football tournament ‘Blow the whistle on domestic violence’.  This is the second year we have run this 5-side football game at our Kilmarnock Campus, which is open to all students.

Having this tournament and its associated activities shows that football and sport in general can be forces for good. It concerns me to learn that researchers from St. Andrews University found a link in 2013 between domestic abuse and matches between Rangers and Celtic.

There was a significant rise in physical, emotional and sexual abuse in the 24 hours after a game in comparison to any other time of the year. With the re-birth of Old Firm games in 2016, I believe it is imperative that schools and colleges are places which both educate and empower.

It is the duty of us all, lecturers included, to be role models who promote and embody the message that any type of abuse is totally unacceptable.

Having had a family member suffer abuse from her ex-partner, I know there are no excuses for violence. Football. Alcohol. Any other reason given.

Currently in our Sports and Fitness courses we have more females enrolled than ever before.

It is really inspiring to see all these young women flourish in a traditionally male dominated industry. I don’t want them or any other women to be the 1 in 3 who have, or will experience, gender-based violence in their lifetime.

Last year we raised £350 for East Ayrshire’s Women’s Aid. The amount matters little when the impact to a women’s life and potentially her family will be huge. She will know we do not accept, condone or are silent on gender-based violence.

You can contact the College’s Student Services teams or organisations like Women’s Aid if you or anyone you know requires support.

Ann Moulds on Victim Impact Boxes

This year, the College is publishing a series of blog posts to mark the 16 Days of Action – an international call of action to end violence against women and girls.

Today, Ann Moulds, Founder and CEO of Action Against Stalking, talks about her journey.

Having been a victim of stalking herself, Ann campaigned tirelessly for the law in Scotland to change so that stalking became recognised as a criminal offence.

Following this, along with others, she developed the ‘Victim Impact Box’ to aid and support victims of stalking.  Ayrshire College is the only college in Scotland to have this resource and supported its launch on Friday 25 November at College Development Network.

You can contact our Student Services teams or organisations like Women’s Aid if you or someone you know requires support.


In 2009, I launched the campaign Action Scotland Against Stalking (ASAS) after experiencing stalking and the poor response by the police, criminal justice system, support agencies and others around me. I was determined that stalking should be recognised as a criminal offence within Scottish Law, and to give victims a voice and a place within the criminal justice process.

Campaign ASAS quickly became a national and international campaign contributing to some major breakthroughs and ground breaking initiatives, most notably the introduction of the ‘Offence of Stalking’ sec 39 Criminal Justice & Licensing (Scot) Act 2010.

This set the blue print for England and Wales to follow suit with the introduction of the ‘Offence of Stalking’ as an amendment into the Protection of Freedoms Act (2012).

The campaign expanded to Europe and in 2011, stalking was successfully inserted into the Council of Europe’s European Convention (Istanbul Treaty) the only legally binding treaty of its kind. Ratified on 1 August 2014, it places a requirement on European member states to recognise stalking as a specific crime.

Collectively these pieces of legislation herald the transformation from a tacit acceptance of what on the surface appears to be slightly annoying behaviour, to the recognition that stalking is actually a dangerous deviant social syndrome. The legislation was giving victims a voice and a place within the criminal justice system.

Why I decided to stand up and speak out publicly  

My own experience of being the victim of a long and horrendous stalking campaign highlighted the devastating impact this crime had on every aspect of my life, physically, emotionally, psychological and financially.

Behaviours that we now know as stalking which were persistent and unwanted were often ignored or dismissed by the police, support services and criminal justice authorities rendering victims like myself vulnerable and unprotected.

I was forced to engage in a system that mandated only crimes of a physical nature would be recognised as criminality. I was continually reminded that my stalker would need to attack me first before anything could be done. Despite warning signs of neatly handwritten letters and disturbing photographs – behaviours that signified a dangerous and devious unfolding sexual fantasy of bondage rape and torture that would one day be ‘his reality’.

Stalking is not physical crime, it is a psychological crime denoted by the anxiety and fear it installs into its victims. Ant physical element is purely a facet of the crime.

Due to its ongoing and threatening nature, there is no other crime as destructive as this pervasive and insidious type of criminality rendering its victims as some of the most emotionally traumatized victims of crime.

The Victim Impact Box (VIB)

There is a plethora of information on the internet offering information and advice to victims of stalking on important issues as reporting to the police and keeping safe, but as useful as this information may be, they do not help explain ‘how’ victims should go about these tasks. The Victim Impact Box aims to bridge this gap by focussing on the ‘how’ and not just the ‘why’.

Simply put this simple but highly effective toolkit will serve as an interface between the victim and the system. Its sole aim is to assist the police in the investigation of Stalking cases and other related predatory crimes whilst offering sound knowledge, advice and guidance to victims.

The Victim Impact Box’ (VIB) was developed to aid the investigation and prosecution of stalking cases, provide the necessary information to victims about stalking, what stalking is and how to recognise its attendant behaviours. It provides a step by step approach to reporting to the police, logging incidents, gathering evidence, and keeping safe through the development of a safety action plan. This will provide crucial information to the impact and disruption on the victim’s life. This information will be useful during the precognition stage of the court process and also when the case goes to court.

It has been developed incorporating the principles of a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) self-help model of care. Its structured and guided approach will help victims develop improved coping strategies, anxiety reduction techniques with the overall aim of helping them manage their situation better.

Working through each stage of the self-help materials will allow victims to process their experience on an ongoing basis, providing for clarity and understanding of their situation. This in turn will not only aid memory recall, but will help install confidence to stand as a witness should their case go to court. It will also help reduce the potential to the development of symptoms of PTSD and long-term impact.

The Victim Impact Box, provides further guidance on the importance of building the right type of support network and has been designed in such a way it forms the template for the drafting of a victim impact statement.

The Victim Impact Box was developed specifically to serve as a multi-functional resource for victims, the police, Crown Office Prosecution Services, victim support service providers, and other organisations where stalking exists.

Domestic abuse – Advice and reporting

This year, Ayrshire College is publishing a series of blog posts to mark the ’16 Days of Action’ – an international call of action to end violence against women and girls.

Next up is Ayrshire College Campus Liaison Officer Kimberley Bradford.


So let’s talk about domestic abuse…what exactly is it?

As the Campus Liaison Officer I speak to a lot of students within Ayrshire College who are experiencing problems with their partners, and they aren’t even aware that what they are suffering from constitutes abuse.

If you have experienced physical, emotional, sexual or financial abuse, or are being intimidated or threatened by a current (or previous) partner, then you are a victim of domestic abuse.

Domestic abuse happens in all sections of our communities. Abusers and victims can be male or female, any race or religion and from all different types of background.

So let’s break the types of abuse down into more manageable chunks.

Physical abuse includes all types of assault and physical attacks like hitting (including with objects), punching, kicking and burning.

Sexual abuse includes forcing you to engage in sexual acts or to have sexual intercourse.

Mental/emotional abuse includes threats (including threats of violence), criticism, name calling, controlling what you do, where you go and who you speak to, threatening your children, isolating you from friends and family, accusing you of being unfaithful, threatening to ‘out’ your sexual orientation to family, friends or work, or to reveal your HIV/AIDS status.

I want to make it clear to everyone that the victim is NOT to blame for what is happening to them, although a lot of the time they are made to feel like it is their fault. You don’t need to suffer in silence – there is so much help available out there.

I think it’s particularly important to mention that domestic abuse regularly happens to young people, in fact 5% of all domestic abuse incidents involve girls aged between 16 and 18 years old. Those are only the incidents that have been reported, unfortunately many don’t get reported to Police Scotland. As college students many of you will fit into this profile and it’s important to know where you stand.

So what can Police Scotland do? Well one very useful scheme that is up and running is the Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse Scotland. If you think that your partner might have been involved as an abuser, or if you have concerns about another person’s partner, then you can apply to the scheme to ask if there has been a history of abuse or other similar behaviour.

It’s also important to know how to report abuse, and there are many ways you can do this.

You can of course report it directly to me within the College. I work between the Ayr, Kilmarnock and Kilwinning campuses, but Student Services can reach me at any time and they can also schedule appointments with me on your behalf. You can also email me on Kimberley.Bradford@ayrshire.ac.uk and I can arrange to meet with you and provide you with advice.

If the incident is ongoing and needs dealt with immediately then always call 999. This is free from all phones including mobiles.

You can also report it at your local police office or online using the online domestic abuse form.

Ayrshire College is a Third Party Reporting Centre, so that means that certain staff are specially trained to take a report from you if you don’t want to go directly to the police.

All reports of domestic abuse are investigated and the police may also get you in touch with support groups that can help you move on and help you to cope.

You can help by trying to remember as many details as possible about what happened to you, things like: dates, times, where the abuse took place, any witnesses that may have saw it, and keeping any evidence like threatening texts, videos or audio recordings.

When domestic abuse has been reported to Police Scotland, they have set procedures to follow to make absolutely sure that you as the victim (and your family) are safe. They investigate the incident as thoroughly as possible and get any evidence available, and actively pursue the abuser to make sure they will be held accountable for their actions through the criminal justice system (courts) as well as referring you to other organisations who can help and support you.

Police Scotland also have Domestic Abuse Liaison Officers whose job is to link in personally with you following an incident, making sure you are getting the help and support you need, and keeping you updated on the case and advising you of your legal rights and options.

However, after knowing all of that some people still struggle to report the abuse. So let’s look at what can you do to keep yourself as safe as you can if you are a victim?

Well there are a few things you can do (ideally in addition to involving Police Scotland).

• Keep handy a list of phone numbers (police, friends, family, helplines).

Tell a friend or neighbour – if you can talk to them about it they could call the police if they hear angry or violent noises.

Teach your children how to get help, like how to dial 999 and ask for the police, consider a secret word that means you need help.

Get safe in the home, think about safer places or rooms without weapons. If you think abuse may start try to get the abuser into this area.

Have an escape plan. Even if you don’t plan to leave just now, think about how you could do it and practise ways of getting out of the house (taking the dog out/putting the bin out/nipping to the shop). Pack a bag of everyday things that you would need and hide it, or give it to someone you trust to keep.

Remember, if you are being abused YOU ARE NOT TO BLAME. It is not your fault and you don’t have to put up with it. Police Scotland are here to help and if you need any advice at all then you need only to ask and I will be more than happy to help you in any way I can.

Finally, there are many agencies across Scotland set up to offer support to victims and their families experiencing domestic abuse. The following contacts may be useful:

Scottish Women’s Aid

Violence Reduction Unit 

LGBT Scotland

Broken Rainbow (tel 0845 260 4460)

Rape Crisis Scotland (tel 0808 801 0302)

Men’s Advice Line (tel 0808 801 0327)

Scottish Domestic Abuse Helpline (tel 0800 027 1234)

Assist (tel 0141 276 7710)

Samaritans (tel 08457 909090)

MensAid (tel 0871 223 9986)

Supportline (tel 01708 765200)

Victim Support Scotland (tel 0845 6039213)

Abused Men In Scotland (AMIS) (tel 0131 447 7449)