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16 Days of Activism - Fiona Hall

Fiona Hall
To mark 16 Days of Activism, Fiona Hall from RGU Student Life, reflects on the work which has gone on, and is planned, at the university to combat Gender Based Violence and support survivors.

Today marks the first day of the UN System’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence activities, with its 2020 global theme: "Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!"

Robert Gordon University remain committed to its zero-tolerance approach to sexual violence and harassment and to providing a working and learning environment where everyone is treated with dignity and respect.

We still encourage you to Speak Up Speak Out and will make sure that your voices are heard.  Whoever you are, we will listen to you. Whenever an incident is reported we will take it seriously, deal with it promptly and ensure that no-one is subjected to victimisation as a result of reporting.

We want you to feel empowered to report an incident, and we hope our reporting mechanisms make it easy for you to report and get support and you will feel safer and know that we are all working together to make our community an inclusive and welcoming environment.

Gender Based Violence (GBV) can affect children, young people and adults, take multiple forms and occurs in a diverse range of settings. It is any action that results in physical, sexual and psychological harm or suffering to women, children and young people, or undermines their human dignity, through, for example, threats, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life.

Throughout 2020 the university has continued to provide essential GBV services through its online Report and Support platform and has had remote support available throughout the Covid-19 Pandemic. All our support services continue to be open and in operation so please do not hesitate to contact us.

Following a second round of specialised training from Rape Crisis Scotland we have also increased our First Responder capacity from 19 to 34 First Responders across schools and support departments. You can find out who our First Responders are here.

Our First Responder network operates to share information, best practice and provide peer support to First Responders. This year we held training sessions and hosted Anni Donaldson of Equally Safe Project and Gemma McCall Director of Culture Shift at network events.

We continue to focus on preventative work. During February 2020 we ran our Healthy Relationships campaign, highlighting positive relationship behaviours. We continue to run Consent training, Bystander Intervention training and encouraged positive citizenship within our community during Freshers Welcome 2020.

The university is continuing to respond to reports, ensuring that survivors of GBV remain supported and that services are maintained during Covid-19. Our trauma informed approach ensures our responses are survivor led, and range from lending an ear of support, to helping survivors access specialist third party support, raise formal University misconducts, or to make a police report.

We continue to work closely with local support services, such as Rape Crisis and Grampian Women’s Aid and local Police Scotland Inspectors. We work with them on sharing processes and campaigns and communicating these to our service users so they can be fully aware of the options available to them following any instance of GBV. All third-party support services and police reporting have been available throughout the pandemic and we encourage everyone to seek support as usual throughout this period.

We have updated Report and Support regularly with additional support during Covid-19, specifically safe spaces at Boots pharmacies and staying safe while staying home information.

Collecting reporting data remains important to identify areas of support, where to focus preventative action and understand the prevalence of GBV within our physical and remote campus community.

We encourage reports of any incidence of GBV, however insignificant an incident may seem at the time. Only by fully understanding the experiences of our community can we most effectively improve our GBV services and programmes with the aim of eradicating Gender Based Violence and violence against women and girls.

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