Following on from our action in the city centre over the weekend, here a few ways in which you can help the charity Refuge rise more money.

Here is a bit of Info about what Refuge do and why they do it, including some worrying statistics relating to younger women!

One woman in four will experience it at some point in her lifetime, and two women are killed by a current or former partner every week. Domestic violence affects women of all ages; of all social and ethnic groups. Sadly, this means that it is likey that we all know someone who has been, or will be, affected.

Worryingly, recent research caried out by Refuge has shown a lack of awareness among young (18-21) year old women of the issues surrounding domestic violence. Only 57% had heard of the Freephone 24 Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline, run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge, which can be contacted on 0808 2000 247. Only 41% of women surveyed said that they would know where to go for help if they were experiencing domestic violence. Even more worryingly, other research has shown that a frighteningly high percentage of young people (as high as 1 in 2 boys and 1 in 3 girls in some studies) think that it is OK to for a man to hit his female partner or to force her to have sex under certain circumstances.

Refuge saves lives, helping more than 1,000 women and children on any given day to escape domestic violence and build a safe and positive future. Our aim is to empower women, and therefore we do not only provide emergency safe accomodation; we also offer counselling and outreach services, give advice and advocacy support on pratical matters such as legal and housing rights, run campaigns to raise awareness and change people’s understandings of domestic violence, and also carry out research and lobbying to influence the governmental response to domestic violence.

So here are 3 ways to help Refuge rise money and help them to keep helping women…

You can donate your old mobile phone. Each phone that is sent off with result in £3.50 being given to Refuge.

You can take part in a sponsered Skydive (or sponser someone else if your not that brave)

Finally, you can use their online shopping facility, which provides them with 12% commission on every purchase.
Direct link here

Refuge do fantastic and vital work, please take the time to do one, other or all of these small things to help them keep working hard to provide much needed services to women who suffer domestic violence.


Here are the few pictures I took while we were in the city centre today.

Our Lovely Placards

Our Lovely Placards


We were in town for about 2 hours handing out around 400 information cards from Sheffield Domestic Abuse Forum (see here), which contain useful phone numbers and info for anyone suffering from domestic abuse and are small enough to be tucked away out of sight if needed.

We also had about 100 posters with a long list of telephone numbers from domestic abuse charities around S. Yorks and Derbyshire which we asked people to display somewhere that they can be seen by women.

After 2 hours on the street we were kinda (or VERY) cold, so here we are warming up!


Feeling beginning to return to our fingers!

Feeling beginning to return to our fingers!

We chose today to do this, because it is Reclaim The Night in London this evening and while we couldn’t make it down there, we wanted to do something around that theme. Apart from the cold (and one crazy man) it was a very successful day and we did hear a number of stories of courage from women that have experienced domestic abuse and hopefully we will have helped many more to get help.

A special mention goes to the lovely lady that spoke to us as we were just setting up, who gave us £1 for a cup of tea “for when we got cold”!

As most of us are unable to travel down to London Reclaim the Night on Saturday (22nd November), we’ve decided to organise some action our own in Sheffield.

We are meeting at the town hall (in the city centre) at 2.00pm with our placards, flyers etc. to raise awareness and get people talking about the issue. If you’re free, please come down and join us!

Since this meeting was entirely a practical plackard-making session, there were no minutes taken.

There were, however, enough marker pens being used to give everybody in the room a headache!

The banners were all awesome – we’re looking forward to waving them menacingly!

News from the meeting:

We’re still looking into changing the venue of meetings, to somewhere with disabled access. The University Arts Tower was suggested, as it should be free to book on the lecture theatres and there shouldn’t be any problems with needing to sign people in either. However it might isolate the group from non-student members. We are also going to look into the Quaker Meeting house in the city centre which would be a much more accesible venue for everyone, not just students. If anybody has any other suggestions, send us a postcard to the normal address!
We also talked about changing the structure of the meetings slightly so we meet downstairs in the bar of University Arms for a social drink first, so that everyone gets to know each other and it is welcoming to new members. This will partly be dependent on whether we change venues or not as well, of course.

There might be a conference/ day workshop at the University soon on Feminism in Sheffield soon. More details to follow if it takes place.

Finally, Sunday is the Sheffield University women’s party. Some of us will probably be there with some Sheffield Fems flyers and things, so if you’re a female Sheffield student, we might see you there.
From the discussion – Women and War – some things to think about were:

  • Some history/ information about Women’s Internation League for Peace and Freedom, which is one of the oldest peace groups, formed in 1915, 2 members have won the Nobel Peace Prize and they have offices at the U.N but also opperate on a local level around the world.
  • Women and children now make up the majority of victims of war, as war is no longer resigned to the battlefields
  • Women in the military- do they play a more supportive role than an active one? The military is still a male/ patriarchical system, will the presence of women change this?  How can women change such a regimented system?
  • In Palestine, the conflict there has resulted in a change in the status of women (a slight improvement, but groups like Hamas would like to reverse this)
  • Is joining the army a gendered issue? How does the supression of the individual effect women? And what about the squaddie culture – does it put women off? Do you have to go along with all these things to succeed in the military?
  • Apparently there has been a big increase in the number women joining the army, and there are good childcare facilities and maternity leave and little sexual harassment- is this the result of law changes or the presence of women? Is there are culture of silence (and would it be harder to speak out against sexual harassment in the miliarty then in a normal job?)

We also made some plans for an event to tie in with Reclaim the Night on 22nd November:
We are going to be in the city centre during the day (we talked about going to West Street in the evening but it was decided that no one would pay any attention as it’s a Saturday night!), with flyers and placards  about domestic violence statistics. We going to try and contact the local press etc. to get some publicity as well.
Next week, Tuesday 18th we’re going to be making the placards and sorting out flyers… come along, bring pens, card etc etc! This was going to be a social meeting, so we will probably go on to another pub afterwards as well.

We are still trying to find a new place to meet that has disabled access. Currently we meet upstairs in the University Arms which has no disabled access at all, although we keep being told they are working on it! (Personally I think they need a good kick up the arse on this because they’re been saying that for a while now and nothing has changed!!!)

However there are certain limitation on where we can meet as well…

A lot places charge to book rooms which we just can’t afford! Any fundrising we do we want to be using for campaigns and charities not just on booking a room (and some of them are really expensive)

It has been suggested several times that we use the Student’s Union building. We are a university group so would be entitled to book rooms, but we are also open to none student and the union building is not open to the public in the evenings (it is possible to sign people in) and we don’t want to alienate none students either! There maybe the possibility of booking Coffee Revolution, but this again does require that it ‘makes money’ and if that means that we have to guarantee a certain amount of sales this could be a problem (I’m going to investigate this)

So we need to find somewhere free, but we would also, ideally like to find somewhere with a more relaxed atmosphere as we have found that this results in more welcoming and relaxed meetings, which is important to us. Particularly when we have new members or are discussing sensitive issues we have found that atmosphere is important and sterile meetings rooms can be rather intimidating. Equally we do need a private room. For a while we met in the downstairs bar area of the University Arms and found that we weren’t able to have open discussions and debate or even hear each other half the time!

This is an issue that is discussed fairly regularly in meetings but one we are yet to resolve! Trying to find the balance of a venue that is accesible and welcoming to all and will not take all our money is really not as easy as it should be. Please let us know if you have suggestions either through the website or through email (I shall apologies in a advance if I forget to the reply to emails, I have a mind like a sieve! I do read all the emails and all points are taken on board, but sometimes I forget to reply. *Sorry*) and feel free to contact the University Arms and tell them to hurry up with the disabled access!

News from the meeting:

We are on the look out for any campaign topics for the next few weeks as we’ve put the playboy one on hold until February. Let us know if you have any ideas!

We’ve been invited to have a stall at the Sheffield University Women’s Party on 16th November. We’re probably not actually going to have a stall, but we will be there with some flyers and hopefully getting a few more new members.

As it looks as though no one can make it to Reclaim the Night on the 22nd we’re thinking of planning some to do in Sheffield. Firm plans will hopefully be made at the next meeting.
In the last week in January we’ll be having a speaker come across from Leeds to talk to us about how environmental issues effect women.
Results of the Women in Sports discussion – or, food for thought!

  • Women may be more prone to sports injuries training is based around the male body and the physical differences between men and women are ignored
  • The culture of male sports and female sports begins at school- boys do rugby, football etc and girls do netball and dance
  • During the olympics there was much more positive coverage of women’s sports than normal and lots of women winning (are these connected?)
  • Apparently around 2% of sports coverage is of women’s sports!
  • Sports kits are much more sexualised for women- see volleyball in particular (although the Indian team was allowed to wear more decent kits for religious reasons)
  • Equal pay in sport is still an issue, since this was the first year that pay was equal at Wimbledon!

Good times!