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Plymouth comes together to tackle violence against women and girls

Councillor Rebecca Smith speaking on stage at Violence Against Women and Girls Conference

Nearly 200 people attended Plymouth’s first Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Conference, which took place this week during the international 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence.

Representatives from the public, private and charity sectors came together to hear about the work taking place in Plymouth and to discuss plans for a new VAWG Charter Mark scheme.

Plymouth’s VAWG Commission was created at the beginning of this year and a survey was carried out in March to help gain a deeper understanding of the local situation. This found that 89 per cent of respondents agreed that violence against women and girls is a problem, with 60 per cent feeling that it happens more often now compared to five years ago.

The survey informed a report about male violence against women and girls in Plymouth, which set out a number of recommendations to enable real change. One key recommendation is that Plymouth should adopt a VAWG Charter Mark scheme.

The scheme would offer organisations and local communities the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to addressing male violence, promoting gender equality and supporting women and girls.

Conference attendees took part in a session to discuss their thoughts on the Charter, with conversations about what it might look like and include, what it would mean to their organisations and identifying potential barriers and ways to overcome them.

This feedback will be used to develop plans for the scheme, led by the new VAWG Strategic Lead in collaboration with partners across the city, before it’s launched next year.

Councillor Rebecca Smith, Chair of the VAWG Commission, said: “It was fantastic to see so many people attending the Conference, representing a huge variety of organisations and businesses with some of the city’s largest employers in attendance as well as the Police, NHS, education providers, arts and cultural institutions, local charities and small, independent businesses. It was amazing to witness the collective passion of people in Plymouth to tackle the difficult issue of violence against women and girls.

“One of Plymouth’s real strengths is our collaborative working and willingness to come together as a city. Ending violence against women and girls is not something that can be done by individuals or just one organisation, but by pulling together I believe that we can work to deliver long-lasting results and cultural change.”

Speakers at the conference included Ben Hurst from Beyond Equality and the VAWG group from women’s charity Trevi.

There were also presentations about some of the work that’s already underway across Plymouth. This includes the new M.A.N. Culture group (Male Allyship Network), the NSPCC’s ‘Young Voices’ campaign, a new research partnership led by the University of Plymouth and local charity Ahimsa, who work directly with the perpetrators of domestic violence to change their behaviour.

Find out more about the VAWG Commission at