Congleton Town Council’s White Ribbon Group has started 16 days of action to spread the word about the White Ribbon Campaign this November and December, starting with White Ribbon Day on Thursday 25th November.
The White Ribbon Campaign engages men specifically to challenge the attitudes and behaviours that lead to men’s violence against women.
Congleton Town Council is a White Ribbon Accredited organisation with an objective of ending all gender-based violence and abuse in Congleton.
The White Ribbon Group consists of Town Councillors, Council officers, and volunteers from the community who are (male) White Ribbon Ambassadors.
This year White Ribbon Day fell in the same week as the start of the FIFA World Cup, so the national White Ribbon organisation’s campaign carries the message ‘whether you’re a football fan or not, #TheGoal is to end violence’.
Chair of the Town Council’s White Ribbon Group Cllr Robert Hemsley said “Sadly we know from research that the day after an England match, domestic violence increases by almost 20 per cent and if England wins, it increases by 47 per cent. The World Cup is a key moment to get the message across that this is not OK, and men have a vital role to play in standing against violence and abuse.”
The White Ribbon Ambassadors manned a stall at the Congleton Maker’s Market on Saturday 26th November, to ask people to make the promise to never commit, excuse or remain silent about men’s violence against women or any gender-based violence.
Cllr Hemsley added “We had some great conversations throughout the day and lots of people came to make their White Ribbon promise. If anyone else would like to do this, they can do so now on the White Ribbon website.”
The focus for the team during 2022 has been young people, and the White Ribbon Ambassadors have run workshops and presentations in local high schools throughout the year.
Ambassador Jonathan Dakin said “The response from young people and their teachers has been incredible. They understand the problem and are highly-motivated to do something about it. It has been inspiring to hear about the plans they have in school and they have been walking around wearing the White Ribbon on their school uniform.”
The White Ribbon Group has invited pubs and venues screening the World Cup to display the White Ribbon poster this year.
White Ribbon Ambassador and Congleton Town Council Chief Officer David McGifford said “Since the age of seven I have played and been involved in children’s and adult football. The sport offers an opportunity to set standards of behaviour and encourage respect for each other. I hope the local clubs are displaying the poster and will join us in promoting this positive message.”
Chair of the Community & Environment Committee, and White Ribbon Champion Cllr Kay Wesley, commented “We are seeing the impact of the White Ribbon campaign in Congleton. We have had people turning up at our Domestic Abuse Clinic to ask for help with their own behaviour at home, which has never happened before.
“The Police have been concerned about the under-reporting of sexual assault for a long time, but reporting has gone up recently, which they attribute to victims feeling more confident coming forward. Finally, although domestic abuse reports in Congleton remain stable at an average of one a day, the number of arrests has doubled, and again officers believe this is because victims are more confident to proceed as a result of the supportive messages in the White Ribbon campaign.”
White Ribbons have been tied on the town centre lampposts, the White Ribbon flag is flying on the Town Hall, and there will is media campaign including radio, social media posts and videos of Ambassadors and young people talking about the importance of calling out sexism, harassment and abuse.
Individuals can make their promise at any time online at www.whiteribbon.org.uk. If any organisations, clubs or employers are interested gaining their own accreditation as White Ribbon organisations, please contact the team via email@example.com and a member of the White Ribbon Group will be pleased to talk to you about the process.