South Ayrshire champions pledge to raise awareness on sexual exploitation

 18 November 2016  |  

The champions will be working to raise awareness of violence against women and children

The champions will be working to raise awareness of violence against women and children

Support for the international campaign which aims to end domestic abuse is being ramped up in South Ayrshire. The Council is joining forces with nine organisations* and every secondary school in the area to form a new group of champions as part of this year's White Ribbon '16 days of action' campaign.

A group of 46 committed supporters came together at a conference at County Buildings on Wed 16 November to identify common themes and plan a targeted programme of activity during the 16 days of action aimed at getting more men to acknowledge, discuss and actively support the campaign. Acting as champions the individual representatives will now be working with their respective organisations and schools to raise awareness about problems of violence against women and children and sexual exploitation.

The '16 days of action' campaign aims to support organisations to tackle domestic abuse and violence against women. Since 1991, more than 5,100 groups in 187 countries have contributed to promoting and supporting the campaign. Taking place between 25 November and 10 December, the theme in South Ayrshire this year is sexual exploitation.

Councillor Ann Galbraith, Chair of the Multi Agency Partnership on Violence Against Women and Children, said they were taking a fresh approach for 2016, "By bringing together so many different organisations we're helping to create a real movement for change across South Ayrshire.

"We'll be looking to raise awareness on hard-hitting issues like online grooming, sexual consent and domestic abuse, and pooling our resources to make sure we speak to as many people as possible.

"This is a positive way to start this year's campaign and with so much support at the outset with our fresh approach designed to engage directly with our communities in the months ahead."

Davy Thomson, Interim Coordinator for White Ribbon Scotland said the event marked the start of a positive campaign, "It was fantastic to have so many schools represented on the day as these young people have a tremendous opportunity to change the attitudes of their generation."

"One of the main messages for our Champions to pass on is for men and women to start talking about these issues and to not just watch from the side lines if they see abusive behaviour happening.

"Throughout the 16 Days of Action to eliminate violence against women the White Ribbon Scotland Campaign will be building fresh momentum to try and end the culture and attitudes which makes domestic abuse possible, and this group will actively work to make that happen."

There was very positive feedback from the 20 senior students who represented their schools as Peer Ambassadors, including, Innes Reid from Belmont Academy, who said, "It was good to hear men talking about domestic violence and exploitation and how we can all help to prevent it. We'll be talking to all the pupils in school and raising awareness."

*Organisations involved include: South Ayrshire Council, Police Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, White Ribbon Scotland, Ayrshire Valuation Joint Board, VASA, Moving On Ayrshire, Ayr and Prestwick Street Pastors, South Ayrshire Women's Aid.