A Middlesex University initiative with Barnet Council aimed at bringing the community together to tackle misogyny, domestic abuse and violence against women has been showcased in an exhibition this week.
The #HearMyVoice campaign as part of the Changing the Culture partnership has resulted in various projects with organisations and community groups.
These have included:
Sara Conway, Chair of the Safer Communities, Partnership Board at Barnet Council, said: “We are committed to preventing and ending domestic abuse and violence against women and girls, and to improving the support and response for all victims and survivors in Barnet.
“The #HearMyVoice campaign highlights our commitment to putting the voices of women and girls at the heart of this approach, including by working with local partners and communities to produce resources together.
“We have zero tolerance for abuse and violence, perpetrators will be held to account and victims and survivors will be able to access the support and help they need.”
Dr Helen Bendon, Interim Head of the Media department at Middlesex University, said: “Through this partnership with community organisations and groups, students gain experience working on challenging briefs for real clients, and use their voices and creative skills to address important social justice issues.
“We are really excited to continue this work as part of our commitment to ‘Changing the Culture’.”
The #HearMyVoice exhibition included a powerful speech by a victim of domestic abuse.
It was kick-started by an incredibly moving piece from performing arts students who recited videos and posters from the Rise Mutual project.
At the event via video link Labour MP Jess Phillips, the Shadow Minister for Domestic Violence and Safeguarding, said: “I would just like to congratulate everyone who has been involved in this project.
“For too long people have told a story about how victims of domestic violence and abuse are hard to reach but that’s never been my experience or of the women’s movement. It’s not hard for me to find victims of domestic abuse, they come up to me at the Tesco’s checkout and tell me their entire life story.
“The issue is we as institutions are hard to reach and nothing will ever be overcome until we do proper work on the ground with community groups to ensure people have somewhere to go when it is needed. For too long it has been the responsibility of a small group of organisations and people to deal with this.
“What is so lovely about this event and project is the idea that we are saying this is actually everybody’s business.”
The #HearMyVoice campaign has included a recent project called ‘Counter don’t cancel’ discussing the impact of the social media influencer Andrew Tate with pupils at the William Ellis School in Parliament Hill, North London, which was filmed by Middlesex University students.
One pupil said: “There’s been a lot of stuff going around about Andrew Tate and you could call him an influencer to boys our age.
“He’s posting a lot of misogynistic things. It is quite negative to hear as a 13-year-old boy because we’re kind of going to go by what he is saying.”
Ben Serlin, Senior Safeguarding Project Manager at Middlesex University, said: “Counter don’t Cancel is built on the simple premise that if we don’t engage young people, if we simply shut down the conversation, then we really don't do anything to shift the narrative.
“What the project has really highlighted is the importance of creating spaces to have those conversations, to better understand the perspectives and experiences of young people, and importantly to nurture them towards more positive attitudes.
“And, undoubtedly, we need positive male role models in that conversation, whether that's, for example, older pupils in the school or our own University students.
“Delivering the type of messaging which makes a connection and resonates is really important in providing the counter-narrative to Andrew Tate and other misogyny influencers.”
Middlesex University is committed to continuing the Changing the Culture partnership in the borough – find out more about the initiative.