UWE Bristol to Tackle Gender Based Violence

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UWE Bristol is taking a pro-active action and working collaboratively with students, UWE Student Union, staff and the city of Bristol to tackle Gender Based Violence.

I (Helen Bovill) recently spoke at two events in Bristol, at City Hall; exploring the research and provision at UWE aimed at interrupting and preventing gender based violence (GBV). I was really pleased to be invited to be part of the panel closing the day in the Bristol Zero Tolerance room (BZT) at the Bristol Women’s Voice (BWV) International Women’s Day celebration on March 2nd 2019. I joined in conversation with an expert panel of speakers from Safegigs4women, Somerset and Avon Rape and Sexual Abuse support (SARSAS), Stand Against Racism (SARI) and feminist performers Deborah Antoinette and China Fish. At this event I discussed the research I am involved in regarding GBV and UWE’s proactive approach to GBV as part of SpeakUp – this is a UWE collaboration between: UWE students, UWE Student Union, UWE staff, and external Stakeholders; (BZT), (SARSAS) and (SARI). The SpeakUp campaign asks students and staff at UWE to speak up when a situation does not feel right. The campaign emphasises safety first and foremost, and aims to work with students and staff to develop the knowledge and skills to be pro-active bystanders. It has developed films (see below) which have a tag line of ‘inappropriate behaviour, appropriate action’. The campaign is focused on enabling and sustaining ‘an inclusive campus where diversity is celebrated, antisocial attitudes and behaviours are challenged and any type of harassment, assault and discrimination aren’t acceptable. We want you to SpeakUp if you see or hear something that’s not right, and be an active bystander.’

Students, staff and the Students’ Union at UWE are committed to developing and cultivating an inclusive campus for all our students to thrive within. We are proud to work in close partnership to continually review our approach to sexual violence and harassment on campus and ensure we have effective proactive campaigns in place, as well as vigorous support mechanisms. Rachel Colley (Community Manager at The Students’ Union at UWE), Dr Helen Bovill (Associate Head of Department Research and Scholarship), Ana Miguel Lazaro (Student Inclusivity Project Officer, UWE) and Charlotte Gage (Bristol Zero Tolerance) recently spoke at a second event in the City. This time at the Bristol Forum ‘Creating positive action through research and collaboration’ event on Friday March 29th 2019 at City Hall.

They spoke about ‘Collaborative problem solving to address the challenges students face in relation to sexual and domestic violence’. Helen discussed bystander intervention as part of the SpeakUp campaign, Ana and Rachel spoke about the wider work of the campaign within UWE and the involvement of the Student Union at UWE within this. For example, discussing that more than 5000 UWE Fresher’s students received messages from the SpeakUp campaign during induction. The five short films, developed by UWE as part of the Office For Students (OFS) funded social norms campaign, formed part of this induction. These films explore issues of: ‘unwanted touching and groping’, ‘consent’, ‘inappropriate use of social media’, ‘domestic abuse’, and ‘initiation and humiliation ceremonies’, they can be found here.  Helen, Ana and Rachel talked about student involvement in the research that underpinned the social norms campaign, with UWE students identifying these five social norms as problematic in student life. They also discussed how UWE works with students and the city of Bristol, with an understanding that UWE students are ambassadors for the University in the city of Bristol and beyond. Charlotte Gage from BZT discussed working with UWE on this campaign and the collaborative approaches used. She also considered the wider work regarding GBV and BZT within Bristol such as the Stop Street Harassment Campaign. Both talks demonstrated that UWE sees itself at the forefront of measures to counteract GBV, and is working in a pro-active and collaborative manner with both students and the city of Bristol.

If you are passionate to support this work, why not join the new Speak Up Society!

For more information, please click the following links:

Author: Helen Bovill, Associate Head of Department Research and Scholarship, the Department of Education and Childhood, the University of the West of England.

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