I was invited to speak at the White Ribbon Campaign launch hosted by Worcester Community Trust (WCT). The White Ribbon Campaign calls for an end to violence and abuse of women and girls at the hands of men.
WCT do some amazing work supporting women and girls. It’s great work that they do – but wouldn’t it be better if we were able to stamp out these behaviours in the first place?
Culture change doesn’t happen overnight, but we could end male violence against women and girls in our lifetimes. There is perhaps no better way to break the cycle of male violence to women than by focusing on engaging with children and young people about healthy relationships, positive masculinity and behaviours.
Violence and abuse experienced by women and girls takes many forms. Some behaviours and words may seem ‘harmless’ but normalising them ignores the short- and long-term effects on women and girls and can lead to more extreme violence and abuse later down the line.
Domestic abuse and violence is often unseen, but in England and Wales, on average, two women a week are murdered by a partner, ex-partner or family member and research shows that last year 1.7 million women in England and Wales experienced domestic abuse.
Men: Here’s the nub. Violence against women and girls is not a ‘women’s issue’ but it’s often portrayed as one. This is due to the way women have long been responsible for navigating threats to their own safety. The first step to change the story, is to understand that women and girls consistently live with a fear of violence that men do not experience in the same way.
A second step is for us men to take an active role in stopping violence before it starts by recognising and calling out attitudes and behaviours that are harmful and that could well, in the course of time, lead to more extreme forms of abuse and violence.
I’ve signed the White Ribbon pledge to call out sexism when I see it. Will you join me?
On 5 December I am helping my chosen charity for the year, Age UK Worcester and Malvern Hills, to put on an event for invited older residents to meet the Mayor for tea, cake, a tour of the Guildhall and a live performance from Isy, an exceptionally talented musician from New College Worcester.
I would like to encourage businesses to support this event by making a donation to my appeal in aid of Age UK. If you run a business, and you make a contribution, you will be named in the event programme.
I recently called round to Worcester’s Foodbank. I looked through the roller shutter doors and with a chill I distinctly noticed a difference between this and previous years. Christmas is a time of giving and thinking of people who are less fortunate. Last year I noticed a queue of donated food that had not yet been processed. Sadly, this year I did not see that food.
Demand has gone through the roof. Chatting to the managers, Grahame Lucas and Ruth Allsopp, they told me that food donations are not enough and increasingly they are spending thousands of pounds each week buying in additional food. So, this is a blog for them. (taken by permission from their website)
Never mind a white Christmas.
Here at Worcester Foodbank all we’re dreaming of is a Christmas where no-one in our city goes hungry.
That’s why we’ve unwrapped our festive food shopping list as we brace ourselves for a challenging countdown to Christmas, with an expected record numbers of referrals to us.
We want everyone in crisis that turns to us for help to enjoy a taste of Christmas – whether that’s some stuffing and cranberry sauce or Christmas cake and mince pies.
Our team of little elves will be working their Christmas socks off to make sure we feed thousands of people over the coming weeks.
The most important ingredient remains your generosity.
With demand for food so high, we won’t be running our usual Christmas toy voucher appeal. Instead we’d love you to show your support by either donating some festive food from our list or making a financial contribution.
You can make a donation via the Worcester Foodbank website: https://worcester.foodbank.org.uk
On Monday I had the pleasure of supporting a graduation and awards ceremony held by The Development Manager. They are a local success story employing 33 including four apprentices. They currently have over 140 technical and digital apprentices on their books. By coincidence on Thursday I also attended the Herefordshire and Worcestershire Group Training Association awards evening. They support the training needs of dozens of local businesses like Worcester Bosch, Mazak, The NHS Trust as well the City Council and even Worcestershire Cricket Club.
Apprenticeships have many advantages. The UK has a skills gap, employers are struggling to find enough suitably qualified people. Compared to university places, apprenticeships allow a far greater range of people to train, essentially because they increase access by allowing people to work and earn money at the same time as they are training.
All businesses are able to access the Apprenticeship Levy and large employers have to pay a compulsory 0.5% of their total annual wage bill into the Levy. This means that unscrupulous employers cannot get away with doing no training and then steal newly trained staff from other employers that do invest properly in training.
Apprentices do not have any tuition fees to pay and so do not have a student loan to pay back. Many people really thrive having the opportunity to put in place what they are learning directly into their job. Apprenticeships provide structure for people to develop their careers, with clear progression routes available from one apprenticeship to the next.