Reflections: UN day for the elimination of violence against women and girls & Safer London
Interview with Shari, our Senior Trainer
Hi Shari! Tell us a bit about what you do at Safer London . . .
I am one of the trainers at Safer London that delivers sessions for a variety of professionals to raise awareness of the experiences of young people. Safer London training is on county lines, gangs, exploitation, serious youth violence, child sexual exploitation, harmful sexual behaviours and keeping young people safe online. The core messages in the training I deliver is about how to work with young people and how to improve their safety.
What does this the International Day for the Elimination of VAWG mean to you?
The UN day for the elimination of violence against women and girls is the start of 16 days of action aimed at raising awareness of the experiences of women and girls around the world. It feels important to remember that the young women that we talk about in training are also part of much wider system of exploitation, discrimination and isolation of women and girls. I particularly like that 25 November was chosen as the date to start the action as it is the anniversary of the assassination of the Mirabel sisters, activists that stood against seemingly insurmountable oppression. 6 months after their assassination others took up their fight and brought down a dictator and still today they are remembered for their struggle and sacrifice. In training we are raising awareness with professionals so that the young people we work with have more support and aren’t silenced – others are standing up for them.
How do you think your work helps?
By training professionals to better identify and be more aware, we are in part better supporting more young people. During training I regularly hear attendees say the training has helped them identify with some of the young people they work with. This is when I know another young person has a better chance to get the specific support they need, or that another young person who may have been slipped under the radar is being identified. I also see attendees leave training with a revitalised passion about the work they do with young people. It’s great to know the training is supporting professionals as well.
‘Leave no one behind’ is a huge global campaign, how do you think this fits into the London context?
London isn’t a closed system and what young people here are experiencing is part of a much larger picture. In county lines and harmful sexual behaviours training there are sections on social media. Social media has a huge influence on young people and is often used to coerce and abuse them. ‘Leave no one behind’ reminds me to not remain passive but to actively engage in the world that I carry around in my pocket. A child not left behind in London could become someone that reflects this in their own life, both physically and virtually.
So many other women say poignant words better than I, so a quote from Dr Maya Angelou: ‘Hope and fear cannot occupy the same space at the same time. Invite one to stay.’
How do you feel about orange?
I like that this is the colour chosen for the campaign. It is the colour of a sunrise, a hugely hopeful symbol. I work at Safer London because there is a strong held sense that every young person should be able to to live free from exposure to gangs, exploitation and crime and I always hope that there will be a sunrise where this is true for all young people.