Hosted by Soroptimist International of Weston-super-Mare, ‘Railing Against Abuse’ saw Dame Joan Collins join Soroptimists and others on a march held on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
For the third year running, Soroptimists, the International Women’s group and Women’s campaigner and writer, Tara Newley Arkle, daughter of Dame Joan Collins, campaigned to raise awareness of violence against women.
Tara explains the inspiration for the event: “The Loves me, Loves me not bookmark was the simple tool that the Soroptimists created that I used in my work as Domestic Abuse Case Coordinator for the local Domestic Abuse Service, Gemini Services. There was such a brilliant concept at work in the creation of this tool.
In 2015 the company I worked for needed to mark the day—the United Nations Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women—as part of their remit for supporting women. I said I would take it upon myself to organise something as I had left the organisation by then, and still wanted to support them somehow. All these elements came together when my company held its usual stall at one of the local support services conferences, and I met one of the Soroptimists. I spoke to her about how helpful the ‘Loves me, Loves me not’ bookmarks had been, and how I would like more to disseminate.
This led to the meeting with Melanie David of SI Weston-super-Mare, and the concept of a day travelling the region distributing bookmarks. ‘Soroptimists Railing Against Abuse’ was born!”
This year, Dame Joan Collins was welcomed to speak at the rally, as well as Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner, Sue Mountstevens; the Lord Mayor of Bristol; Councillor Lesley Alexander; and Victim Support Representative, Jodi Collett. Gathering at the station, sixty Soroptimists and others took part in the rally, joined by representatives of Domestic Abuse organisations, including victims, and relatives –women and men, to march through the streets.
Dame Joan Collins, who champions domestic abuse as part of her charity work, joined the march near the Chapel. Once inside, SI Weston-super-Mare’s President, Ruth Thomas, introduced the speakers, including the Lord Mayor, the Avon & Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner), a representative of Victim Support, followed by campaigner Tara Arkle who introduced her mother, Dame Joan Collins. All spoke movingly about Domestic Abuse.
A buffet followed, funded by a local school and served by members of SI Bristol. The day was declared a great success by all participants. 10,000 bookmarks were printed prior to the event, funded by the Community Action Fund of the Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner. As part of the push to highlight healthy relationships ‘Loves me, Loves me not’ bookmarks and leaflets were handed out to schools, libraries and support services throughout the south west of England, in the lead up to the march and professional talks about healthy relationships and domestic abuse were given by the local domestic abuse service.
Many hundreds more bookmarks were distributed on the day of the event and Soroptimist Clubs will continue share this valuable message throughout the 16 days of activism.
SI Weston-Super-Mare intends to continue to hold this event on 25 November each year, and hope that the idea will grow and spread more widely; they would love to see Soroptimists from all over the UK railing to London and making a big impact!
The 10,000 bookmarks were funded by the Police Commisioner’s Community Action Fund.
Full coverage of this event can be found on the Soroptimist International of Great Britain and Ireland website at https://sigbi.org/members/2017/day-for-elimination-of-violence-against-women/