An event including speakers from the police and various charities was held at New City College campuses to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls.
As well as talks on staying safe while out and about, students heard from inspirational campaigner Payzee Malika on the importance of speaking up and asking for help if they feel threatened in a relationship.
At NCC’s campuses – Arbour Square, Ardleigh Green, Epping Forest, Hackney, Havering Sixth Form, Redbridge, Tower Hamlets and Rainham – there were stalls and interactive activities where students were given information from female survivors of violence, a team from the Met Police and a host of visiting charities and organisations.
Student Dishon Fox-Dales said the event had educated both male and female students and they were more aware now that they can make a difference if they call out bad or disrespectful behaviour, so that women and girls are able to feel safe, both in their homes and on the streets.
He added: “Events like these are important for students and they help to provide useful information so that we can build a better society overall.”
Superintendent Lisa Butterfield spoke to some of the students about staying safe while out in the evenings with friends, including the Ask Angela scheme and being aware of drink spiking. She said: “It is great that events such as this are held at New City College so that we can reach out to young people as they transition from secondary school to college and start engaging in adult lifestyle choices, such as relationships and freedom in their social life.
“It’s key that we talk to them about keeping themselves safe, and that they understand how much they all play a part in preventing violence against women and girls.”
In a link to the event, some students went on a Walk & Talk with the Met Police to try to improve safety for women while out in Romford town centre.
Payzee Malika, who at 16 was forced into marriage to a much older man and whose sister was the victim of an ‘honour’ killing, is now an international campaigner for women’s rights. Payzee said: “I have had some great conversations with the students here – they have been really open to talking and learning and hopefully have taken a lot away from the sessions.
“I have enjoyed sharing my own experiences and helping them to see that this can happen to anyone. I hope it has left them empowered with the confidence that they can come forward, ask for help if they need it and feel safe.”
Group Head of Tutorial and Enrichment, Emma Wood, who organised the events at each campus, said:
“The students found the speakers very interesting and the whole event has made them more aware that violence against women can occur both in their homes and on the streets. It is important as a college that we can come together and make a stand to help women and girls who feel threatened and learn how to stop violence.”