The Violence against Women and Girls Group was a group set up in a collaboration between the Falmouth and Exeter Students’ Union (SU) and Cornwall Council. It was in response to a successful funding bid by Cornwall Council to see a ‘Safer Cornwall’.
Part of the funding included ringfencing £5000 for a student led group to deliberate and decide on projects, sessions or events that could improve the personal safety for the student community. This led to the creation of the VAWG (Violence against Women and Girls) Group, which also supports other marginalised genders.
The timing of this group was incredibly effective as personal safety was a significant concern within the student population and had seen the SU responding by running Personal Safety Pop Ups which included handing out Personal Safety kits to students.
The VAWG group was advertised to students and had good initial engagement, with University of Exeter student Kaitlyn Millis putting herself forward as Chair for the group, and Falmouth University student Liv McKenzie and University of Exeter student Tom Price putting themselves forward as Co-Chairs.
They met to discuss their next steps which included doing a pop up to see what the wider student body wanted the £5000 spent on from a personal safety perspective.
The most popular ideas at the moment include running free self defence classes for Students at Foxcoat Studios in Penryn; Create welcome packs for Welcome Week similar to the personal safety bags already used; Promoting the group more widely and with clear advertising including a recognisable brand to add longevity and finally offering active bystander training to the student population to create a domino effect with many students experiencing.
There are many more elements to this exciting project which include:
- A potential opportunity for a safe space at Huddle Café which is being discussed and includes the Women’s Centre Cornwall
- Active Bystander and ‘Train the Trainer’ Bystander training run by Cornwall Council
- Lucy Coakes, the lecturer for Year 3 Creative Advertising has been an integral part of the group and the wider project with Year 3 Creative Advertising students making videos of how students have witnessed untoward behaviour and how students can be an active bystander when witnessing these situations. These videos can be viewed on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/safercornwall
- Regular VAWG meetings and pop ups on Social Street on Penryn Campus to continue to promote the group and hear from students
Keep up to date with the VAWG working group developments on Instagram on @vawg.thesu and if you would like to share an idea, please email the students’ union on email@example.com.