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Solent University, Southampton and the University of Roehampton are working with Yellow Door, a charity tackling domestic and sexual abuse, to evaluate workshops delivered at a Southampton school to raise awareness of violence against women and girls (VAWG).

23rd November 2023
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This pilot scheme is working with boys in year 10 at St George's Catholic College to get them talking about healthy relationships, sexual harassment and consent. The project aims to start important conversations in a safe environment and take preventative action that has a lasting impact.

James Preston, Assistant Headteacher at St George's Catholic College, says:

"After a two-year focus on harmful sexual behaviour and ensuring that sexual harassment is not commonplace in schools, this project has been fantastic. It has allowed male students to be the role-models and driving force behind changing systemic attitudes towards girls and women.

"Students have been able to produce a school-wide campaign to challenge attitudes towards violence against women and girls, give clear and tangible steps on how not to be a bystander, and have shown such a mature attitude towards it. It has made us really proud of them that they have had such an active role in such an important campaign."

Led by Yellow Door, with funding from Safer Streets 4, Solent and the University of Roehampton are evaluating the impact of the sessions to help develop them further. 

Researchers at both universities are examining the outcomes of the year-long project based on attitude and behavioural changes, as well as the increase in awareness of women's safety among young men.

Informed by Solent's evaluation, Yellow Door aim to roll out this project to other schools in Southampton, engaging more young people and making a positive difference. Avril Ward, Education STAR Manager and Domestic and Sexual Abuse Advisor at Yellow Door, says:

"Raising awareness of violence against women and girls amongst young people is pivotal to creating change and finding out how we can reduce it in schools. Throughout adolescence, young people are often exposed to stereotypes, misogyny and toxic masculinity and interpersonal harm impacts everyone, regardless of gender. 

"Working in partnership to deliver projects which can have a meaningful impact is essential, and we will continue this work with thanks to the support of our partners."

Students are creating informative posters to educate their peers on topics surrounding VAWG, while a focus group for girls ensures learning is shared and voices are elevated throughout the project.

Solent University's Research Assistant, Naomi Davis, says:

"At a time when there is a growing awareness and increasing need for evidence-based approaches to reducing violence against women and girls, Solent's partnership with Yellow Door is an important project that can help to make a positive difference.

"There is immense value to working with young people to have open conversations and change attitudes, and doing so during secondary school can be really impactful."

The project at St George's Catholic College will culminate in an assembly and fundraiser, raising money to support national charity, White Ribbon UK.