Volunteers wanted to be part of White Ribbon Orkney
Domestic violence manifests itself in all communities up and down the UK and Orkney is no different. However to counter this volunteers are sought to come forward and be part of an exciting new project to achieve White Ribbon status for the County with the establishment of White Ribbon Orkney (WRO). As part of the Orkney Domestic Abuse Forum (DAF), a multi-agency group, who look to tackle the issues locally, an ambitious project is underway to establish the charity here to make a positive difference and influence men to speak out about violence against women in all its forms.
Examination of Services in Orkney identified an improvement opportunity if men could be encouraged to become more involved in the local response with adoption of a plan to establish White Ribbon as a status project and promote the charity White Ribbon Scotland (WRS).
WRS began as a charity in 2010 as an autonomous Scottish campaign linked to the worldwide White Ribbon Campaign operating across more than 70 countries. WRS are a Primary Prevention campaign contributing to the aims of the Scottish Government Equally Safe Strategy, who engage with non-perpetrating men to educate them about violence against women and what they can do to help eliminate it. Participants are asked to sign a pledge which states:
‘I pledge never to commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women in all its forms.’
WRS rely on the support of volunteers to pass on the messages of the campaign through grassroots conversations with men and by holding Speaker Events, which are only limited by their imagination. Speakers are asked to consider what opportunities may be presented through their private and professional lives to assist men to consider how their attitudes and behaviour might contribute to condoning violence against woman and whether they have remained silent about the issue in the past.
When recruiting volunteers WRS reach out to men and women from all walks of life who have access to a predominantly male audience as the aim is to address male attitudes and behaviour. Volunteers usually have some degree of interest in the issue, but do not need to have any campaigning experience as they will receive training to raise their confidence. Speakers can be aged 16 years upwards and are asked to make a commitment to assist WRS meet its goals of addressing violence against women by creating a gender equal society and educating men as to how they can play their part. By ‘commitment’ Speakers are not expected to dedicate all their time to the campaign, rather that they will be committed to playing a part in their local Speaker Network and make things happen in their local area. These will be respectful of restrictions in place, which are hoped to ease through time. All people should be considered equal and WRS seek to ‘recruit’ a wide diversity of volunteers.
Volunteer Speakers attend a one-day training course or two 2.5 hour modules online where they will gain an increased knowledge of:
- What is violence against women and girls (VAWG)?
- Why do men need to be involved?
- Gender Stereotyping, peer pressure, gender inequality and how they adversely affect men as well as women.
- The background to the White Ribbon Campaign.
- Bystander Theory and how it can prevent incidents from escalating into VAWG.
At the conclusion of the training WRS invite participants to become Volunteer Speakers, however WRS understand however that some people may, for a variety of reasons, decide that they do not want to become Speakers. WRS in developing a Status Project would replicate the above locally in Orkney under the banner of WRO.
A Steering Group (SG) has now been established to coordinate the project under the Chair of Chief Inspector Matt Webb Police Scotland and Chair of Orkney’s DAF. He is supported by Mr Gerry O’Brien as Vice Chair, following his recent retirement from NHS Orkney. Other members comprise of representatives from Housing, Health, Women’s Aid, ORSAS, Local Businesses, VAO, Key Community Representatives, Category 1 responders, Elected Members and Transport Providers.
Following the formal launch of the SG on Thursday 10 December 2020, appeals were made for Volunteer Speakers in Orkney to contact [email protected] to register their interest in taking up this opportunity to make Orkney a more enriched environment for us all. The desire is to see volunteers from throughout the islands, with most, if not all, Parishes represented. The SG will also aim to spread this message throughout Orkney across various mediums and fora to encourage engagement with young and old and ensure as wide a reach as possible. If you are interested in becoming a Volunteer Speaker or just being part of White Ribbon Orkney then we want to hear from you so please get in touch.