Campaigns We Like

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”!

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.

News from the meeting:

We need to keep an eye on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill as it goes to the report stage in the House of Commons.

Certain MPs are likely to try to tack on more anti-abortion amendments. Now is a very good time to be emailing and writing to MPs – every letter counts. The Abortion Rights website has a model letter available to download.
At the same time, it is worth contacting MPs regarding the issue of legalising abortion in Northern Ireland. It is currently not legal to have an abortion in Northern Ireland, and soon the power to decide on this matter will be devolved to the NI assembly. Since it is very unlikely that they would ever legalise abortion, now really is the time to make a fuss.

The Family Planning Association has more information, and a link on their website to a petition on the Downing Street website that everybody can sign.

We are thinking about making Abortion Rights our next charity to fundraise for, but this will be formally decided soon.

Discussing the Playboy campaign:

The issue for the moment is the prevalance of Playboy branded merchandise available for young children; specifically, stationary and bedlinen.
This is available most prominently in two large chains in the UK, WH Smiths and Argos.
Our campaign will therfore be focussing on these two stores, although for obvious reasons details will not be posted here as yet. For further information, to submit any ideas for the campaign or to get involved, please contact us. The Bin The Bunny website also has some useful links and information.

Other issues:

As ever, we are looking to develop better links with other feminist groups. If you’re part of one, or know of any that might be interested, drop us a line at the usual address!

An RAF poster has been brought to our attention that specifically mentions equality whilst simultaneously saying that regiments are open only to men. It sounds like a wonderful example of double-think, and we’d like to check this out.

Freshers’ Week at the University of Sheffield has come and gone, and there have been a startling number of posters advertising club nights that feature pornstars, schoolgirls, semi-naked women and other such lovely images! Yet another thing to keep an eye on and try and try and think of a good course of action for.

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