Launch of new resource to support anyone experiencing gender-based violence

Published: 27 September 2018

All college and university staff are given new resource to help them support anyone experiencing gender-based violence

‌‌‌‌‌The launch of a project to support all college and university staff handle disclosures of gender-based violence was held at Edinburgh Napier University on Thursday, 27 September, with support from the Deputy First Minister of Scotland.

More than 100,000 cards have been printed and distributed to every college and university across Scotland so that staff can have details of the national, specialist support services at their fingertips.

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The cards fit into wallets, purses and staff ID badges. It’s hoped that awareness of the cards in college and university will encourage victims of gender-based violence to disclose their experience to someone they feel comfortable speaking to, knowing that they will be believed and receive the right support.‌

The idea for the cards came from Ms Fiona Drouet, mother of Emily Drouet, who tragically took her own life having experienced a campaign of gender based violence whilst a student at university.

Ms Drouet founded the #EmilyTest campaign. The cards recognise that any one of the 75,000 staff working in universities and colleges may receive a disclosure of gender based violence or witness something, but not everyone will know what to do. The cards offer the basic information needed to quickly refer someone experiencing any form of gender based violence to specialist services. Many colleges and universities took the option to customise their cards to include details of the support services available on campus.

Given to colleges and universities from early September, the cards have a very practical purpose but they also pay tribute, in a very small way, to Emily Drouet. The cards are printed in Emily’s favourite colour.

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Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, Richard Lochhead MSP said: “Tackling violence against women and girls and the attitudes that help perpetuate it are key priorities for the Scottish Government. It’s vital that we work with universities and colleges to ensure they are places where students are safe to live, study and research. The support cards launched today will empower university staff to support students and provide advice on where they can access help. This an important step towards fostering a culture that is clear in its condemnation of gender based violence and gives staff and students the confidence to report unacceptable behaviour.”

Commenting at the launch of the cards, Fiona Drouet, founder of the #EmilyTest Campaign said: “I hope the support cards will help to bridge gaps and, if used effectively, have the potential to save lives. This is a positive step towards safeguarding students and staff alike. While many students will hopefully benefit from the increased awareness this new tool provides, staff are currently vulnerable to receiving disclosures with the absence of appropriate training.

“I believe this practical tool will give staff something powerful to offer to students needing urgent help and support. The aim of the card is not a solution or a fix all, but to empower staff when handling a disclosure. Statistics show us that a supportive and understanding response to a disclosure is vital. Encountering a dismissive response often escalates self-blame and substantially reduces the chance of the victim/survivor ever seeking further help.

“These cards have come too late for Emily, but we hope staff will embrace this resource by keeping it on their person at all times and never underestimating the difference it could make to someone's life. We hope they will offer a much needed lifeline to victims/survivors.”

First published: 27 September 2018