#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:

www.north-ayrshire.gov.uk/vawp

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