White Ribbon Day - say ‘No’ to violence against women

Domestic abuse is an issue that affects millions across the country. In 2019 alone, an estimated 5.7% of the national population had experienced some form of abuse, according to the Crime Survey for England and Wales.

In rural regions, the effects of this abuse are often even more severe. The National Rural Crime Network has found that domestic abuse lasts 25% longer in the most rural areas, with social isolation and a lack of adequate support services making it difficult for victims to escape or find refuge.

Those suffering in rural areas are also half as likely to report their abuse to others, live in communities that are noticeably more protective of perpetrators, and are generally more reluctant to leave their situation because they may have animals to care for or possess skills that make it difficult to find alternative employment.

To help raise awareness of the domestic abuse issues in our own county, Rural Action Derbyshire (RAD) is teaming up with Mothers’ Union Diocese of Derby for White Ribbon Day, a national event which aims to eradicate male violence against women.

On Wednesday 25 November, RAD will support Mothers’ Union in the delivery of a special church service which will welcome representatives from key organisations across the region, including the Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service and Derbyshire Police.
Hosted on Zoom, the service will include a welcome from Bishop Libby, organ music from Dr Stephen Oxley and prayers led by RAD’s Rural Chaplain, Rev’d Alan Griggs.

The service is being streamed live at 10.00 am. To receive the link to be able to join the service, email Emily Brailsford, [email protected] .org.uk.

Founded in February, the Willow Project delivers training events for volunteer Champions, giving them the knowledge and confidence to spot signs of abuse, work within their local communities to challenge attitudes which perpetuate the issue, and refer victims to vital support services.

Hardyal Dhindsa, Police and Crime Commissioner for Derbyshire, said he was proud to fund The Willow Project which provides vital support to those affected by domestic abuse in rural areas.

“Domestic abuse is not confined to urban households,” he said. “In fact, those at risk of abuse who live in rural areas are often more isolated and less able to seek help, purely due to their location.

“The Willow Project understands that domestic abuse and coercive behaviour in rural areas may be presented in different ways, and its services are aimed specifically at those members of our rural communities who are at risk. International Women’s Day provides an excellent opportunity to raise awareness of an issue that affects thousands of people every day. If we can provide wraparound support services with the help of our partners and the voluntary sector, we will increase reporting, highlight the signals that someone needs help and protect many more people at risk of harm.

“In the words of The White Ribbon Campaign, there is #NoExcuseForAbuse. The White Ribbon Campaign sees thousands of people stand up, speak out and say no to violence against women. I know that this year has been exceptionally difficult for some people due to the Covid-19 restrictions and now, more than ever, we must support those who need it, when they need it.“


Emily Brailsford is project lead for RAD’s Willow Project which aims to increase people’s understanding of the different challenges faced by rural victims of domestic abuse.

Emily highlights the importance of volunteers for helping victims across the county, saying, “Willow Project Champions make such a difference to our work. It’s vital that we raise awareness around the different challenges faced by victims of domestic abuse in rural areas and our champions will help to do this.”

After completing the online training, these Champions will receive a certificate and invitations to online networking events, ensuring they have all the necessary support to help eradicate this urgent problem.

Local resident Donna Doherty is getting involved to make a difference in her community. “I wanted to become a Champion so I can do my bit to tackle domestic abuse in rural Derbyshire,” she says. “I am really excited to take part in this much needed project."

For those wanting to join Donna in becoming a Willow Project Champion, please contact Emily at [email protected].