Campaign launched to empower women of colour to Be Heard
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Bedfordshire Police has unveiled a major new campaign to support women of colour to come forward and report domestic abuse as well as other forms of male violence against women and girls.
Police will be supporting a whole host of events across the county on International Women’s Day today (Wednesday) as it launches plans to work with existing community groups and networks as part of its Be Heard campaign.
The campaign aims to break down the barriers for women of colour, when it comes to reporting domestic violence, as well as highlighting the tailored support available to victims, reporting mechanisms and partner agencies.
The pilot has been launched in collaboration with Nine Red Presents, a specialist art therapy group which focuses on support for women who have experienced domestic abuse and sexual violence.
Working closely with the group’s CEO Debra Knight, representatives from Bedfordshire Police will join a listening circle event in Leagrave Park, Luton today, which aims to empower women from Caribbean and other Black communities to share their lived experience.
Debra Knight from Nine Red Presents, which works with 12 grassroots community groups, said: “This work is so important because it is happening now. Twenty years ago, when we started the project, we wanted to think about people’s individual needs and create something for us, by us, to support those on their journey of trauma recovery.
“Back when we stated the project, our holistic approach to trauma recovery was not widely supported, however our art therapy and art medicine approach is now used by many different people across the world. It is important we are now working with Bedfordshire Police to share this approach and highlight different ways they can engage with those who need it.
“Be Heard is the next step in our journey as we work closely with Bedfordshire Police to bring together the collective efforts of people from diverse backgrounds. This is the moment to Be Heard.”
Officers from the force’s Bedford community policing team will also be joining an event in Woburn organised by Bedfordshire and Luton Community Foundation (BLCF) in partnership with Evolve to discuss the importance of diversity across the local community.
Bedfordshire Police’s pioneering Women of Colour in Policing (WoCiP) movement is hosting its own event today to mark International Women’s Day, which will also feature a spotlight on what the force is doing to improve women’s safety. The force will also be taking its male violence against women and girls (MVAWG) agenda into HMP Bedford, with a talk on these issues to be delivered to staff.
Detective Chief Superintendent Dee Perkins, the force’s strategic lead for MVAWG said: “We have been working closely with community groups to listen, give them a voice and create further create a safer environments for women and girls across Bedfordshire.
“In the last few months, we have worked with Nine Red Presents on our domestic abuse policy, and we are glad to continue our support with them through the Be Heard campaign to amplify voices and share experiences.
“As part of our ongoing work to tackle MVAWG, we are keen to embed ourselves within our communities to help establish voices for women and girls within our diverse communities, and to better understand the barriers they face when it comes to reporting
“Sadly, domestic abuse and other forms or violence against women and girls are underreported by women from Black and diverse backgrounds, and hopefully by listening and supporting women from the community, we can continue this journey of better support and guidance, whilst building trusting relationships.
“Whilst the pilot is launching with Nine Red, the aim is to work with a variety of groups across the county to ensure we can reach and support as many people as possible.”
Bedfordshire Police remain committed to tackling all forms of abuse, supporting victims of any gender and tackling both male and female offenders.