|Themes:||feminism, networks, VAWG|
I think I would say that I’ve been involved in some form of activism since I was 16/17 years of age which is a long time ago now as I’m just about to hit 65 and I would say that everything that you do that challenges the system and or the way things are is some form of activism.
I wasn’t interested in in being a social worker but I was interested in understanding how things were the way they were and how things could change. So I decided I was going to do Applied Social Studies because it fitted with my sense about social change, and I was particularly interested in the whole stuff about violence against women – long story short – ended up doing a full year placement in a social services department, which set me up to work in that unit as a Research Fellow. And one of the things about the Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit was knowledge linked to activism you know, obviously you’d turn up to the Reclaim the Night marches, you’d turn up to whatever demos were going on. But also, feeling that the work you were doing, was also part of activism, you know we were hoping and working for – some of that stuff would making a difference.
And it felt very odd coming to the end of that, ‘cause what happened was is that I went down to three days a week and moved to Devon, um, and the first thing I did once I’d settled in was go – ‘where are the feminists?’ And the obvious place to look was The Fawcett Society. What I actually found was a group of activists [laughs] um, and one of the main things was there was, pardon my language – bugger all – for adult victims of rape and sexual abuse and adult survivors of sexual abuse-‐ there was virtually nothing. So I walked into a group of women who’d been campaigning to get a rape crisis centre at exactly the same point that I knew that the incoming Tory government were primed to put money into rape crisis centres nationally. Devon was the only place that had nothing. And we were very lucky, the group of women sitting around that Fawcett Devon table, had the right skills at the right time. Um, and then we got a phone call saying ‘You’re going to get the money’. And this was in the March of 2011, um, and we were up and running and providing services in November of that year.
Um, you know an amazing staff team, great volunteers, and the other thing of course is every volunteer you bring in who stays the course, either came in as a feminist or becomes a very strong feminist, because you can’t go through the training and the work without. I mean, we are an overtly feminist organisation, we won’t apologise for it, we’re really clear about that, you deal with us knowing it’s a feminist organisation or don’t deal with us, it’s really simple.