Kingston Council holds workshops to help combat gender-based violence

Kingston Council’s Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) team held a series of workshops on Thursday (November 30), aimed at empowering and educating residents and professionals on preventing violence against women and girls.

The workshops come as part of the charity White Ribbon’s international campaign against gender-based violence which runs from November 25 to December 10.

VAWG train professionals who work with survivors of domestic abuse.

Natalie Walker, Council VAWG officer said: “[They aim to] raise awareness of the topic as a whole which is not spoken about enough and make people aware of the support there is for domestic violence supporters in Kingston.”

White Ribbon UK is a charitable organisation, made up of individuals and organisations “who want to create a world where women and men are equal and where women and girls can live without the fear of men’s violence”.

They aim to tackle the issue of men’s violence against women and girls by addressing its root causes.

The workshops, held at Kingston University, consisted of three sessions throughout the day training professionals from Voices of Hope and Kingston Women’s Hub in supporting survivors of domestic violence.

According to Kingston Council, Kingston is one of the safest boroughs in London. However, gender-based domestic violence in Kingston is still a problem.

According to Walker, research by Kingston Council found that 84% of women who have experienced domestic violence in Kingston report their experiences whereas only 16% of men do.

These statistics sparked conversations in the first workshop, led by Walker, about the stigma that prevent men from reporting their experiences of domestic violence.

This includes men feeling ashamed about being abused by a woman who may well be physically smaller than them.

Walker said that while VAWG predominantly focuses on women and girls, they also help men and non-binary people.

Having previously volunteered at her university’s rape crisis helpline and working at a hospital with women who have been sectioned, some of whom who had experienced domestic violence, Walker realised how important it was to raise awareness of gender-based domestic violence.

She said: “As a woman myself, it felt really important to me to help prevent violence against women and girls and make people aware of what support there is in Kingston.

“My role is to train people and professionals like those from Kingston Voices of Hope and Kingston Women’s Hub to properly support survivors of domestic abuse who turn to them.”

The workshops also looked at how parents can support their children who may be experiencing domestic abuse.

Attendees included members of the public, professionals from Voices of Hope and Kingston Women’s Hub, and some members of the council.

Kingston Council’s Portfolio Holder for Adult Social Care and Public Health, Cllr Sabeh Hamed, said: “This White Ribbon Day, we continue with our pledge to raise awareness, provide support and tackle violence against women and girls.

“Kingston is one of the safest boroughs in London and we are committed to making it even safer, working in partnership with organisations and communities across the borough.”

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, you can find help through the following organisations: Kingston Women’s Centre – Tel no: 020 8541 194, Voices of Hope’s and Kingston Women’s Hub and Hestia: Life Beyond Crisis – Tel no: +44 (0) 20 7378 3100.

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