On Friday 25 November, Worcester Community Trust hosted our annual White-Ribbon themed event to mark International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls, which kick-starts 16 Days of activism and education to end male violence against women and girls worldwide

Representatives from organisations across the county including West Mercia Women’s Aid, West Mercia Rape & Sexual Abuse Support Centre, Victim Support, Rooftop Housing, Platform Housing, Action for Children, Onside, Suicide Prevention, PAUSE and YSS all took part in the event, as well as local councillors, schools, and the police.

Our guest speaker, Michael Conroy from Men at Work, an organisation that trains professionals who work with boys and young men, invited the audience to consider how we can support boys and young men to grow up being safe for themselves, and safe for those around them.

Speaking after the event Michael said “Sadly, it is still the case in the UK and in many parts of the world, that there is a huge amount of domestic abuse and violence from men towards women and girls. To address this, we must look at root causes and what can we do about it.

“From a very young age, many boys are exposed to potentially damaging messages around what is expected of them to ‘be a man’. Whether it’s from toys they play with, media they are exposed to, or the way they are spoken to by adults, many of the boys and young men I work with believe they should grow up to be strong, be the provider of the household, and to not show their emotions.

Through youth work and other avenues, I believe it is important that we show boys and young men that they do not need to follow restrictive ‘rules’ of being a man, and that it is ok to be themselves, support their friends emotionally and to ask for help and support when they need it.

“The aim is to support boys in being safe and safe to be around, and a key part of that means not growing up with a belief that men are superior to women”.

Jon Newey, CEO of Worcester Community Trust added: “Today is an incredibly important event for bringing together the organisations in the county, including WCT, who are in the position to address gender inequalities. We must do more to stop the abuse, starting with youth work. I would encourage all men to make the White Ribbon Promise – to never use, excuse or remain silent about men’s violence against women.