November 25this the start of the White Ribbon 16 Days of Action – an international drive to encourage men and boys to speak out about domestic violence.  Rates of violence against women in North Ayrshire continue to give cause for concern.  Sadly, domestic abuse continues to affect too many families and individuals within our communities.  White Ribbon’s global campaign is so important because it recognises that Violence against women is not just a woman’s issue and encourages men to take action.


In the past, violence against women, particularly domestic violence, might have been deemed as a private issue, hidden or ignored perhaps not treated with the seriousness it deserves.  It is crucial that we change this.  It inflicts devastating physical and psychological impacts on women and has wide-ranging costs for their families, communities and society as a whole.  Violence and the threat of violence affect, regardless of wealth, race, and culture.  One in four women will experience domestic abuse from a partner in her lifetime. 

Violence against women is never normal, legal or acceptable and there are no circumstances under which it should be tolerated or justified.  All of us, individual men and women, communities, governments, and international bodies – have a responsibility to put a stop to it and to redress the suffering it causes.

In North Ayrshire, all of the agencies involved in tackling violence against women have been working in partnership since the establishment of the first Domestic Abuse Multi Agency Forum in 2000. The partnership is composed of members from North Ayrshire Council, Women’s Aid, NHS Ayrshire and Arran, Police Scotland, Procurator Fiscals office, Victim Support and Break the Silence.  Our work together has been based on a shared understanding of what is meant by violence against women and has allowed for positive collaboration between services, particularly at an operational level.  The Multi Agency Domestic Abuse Response Team (MADART) are a great example of this joint working.  Based at Kilmarnock police station the team comprises Social Services, housing and police personnel and works in partnership with a range of services including: addictions, health, welfare rights, women’s aid and the Scottish children’s reporter.  Working together the team have improved the response to domestic abuse incidents ensuring that it is quick, proportionate and effective which means the best, most timely support for victims.

It is the cost of Violence against women which will be explored at the North Ayrshire Women’s Aid conference taking place on the 26th November.  “The Economics of Gender based violence” sees delegates from across Scotland arrive in Irvine to hear from expert speakers Emily Thomson of Glasgow Caledonian University and Karen McCluskey from the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit.  A highlight of the conference will be the DVD launch from Young Voices, NA Women’s Aids’ young women’s group. Workshops on trafficking of women and children, legal issues, LGBT access to services and gender budgeting are planned for the afternoon session.  

This year our North Ayrshire launch event will take place in Bridgegate, Irvine.  A white ribbon image will be projected onto the square where male members of the community help decorate the campaign banner “These hands are not for hurting” with their handprints.  Many men including all the junior football clubs and rugby clubs in the area took part previously and this year The North Ayrshire Violence Against Women partnership hope even more men follow their good example and get involved taking action by pledging to never commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women.

In asking men to take action we also recognise that speaking up can be challenging and it is with this in mind that the partnership is delivering White Ribbon Speaker training to young men in the area.  5thand 6th year pupils interested in taking part will attend a full days training at the Ardeer neighbourhood centre.  Passing on the skills in public speaking along with the knowledge and resources to communicate and highlight the issues around violence against women is an essential part of the success of campaign.

The partnership will have a stall set up in the Rivergate Mall, Irvine where people can visit, sign the pledge and access help and information.


25th November 2013
4.45p.m. – 6.30 p.m.
Launch of White Ribbon Campaign and 16 Days of Action
Bridgegate, Irvine
26th November 2013
9.30 a.m. – 4.00 p.m.
North Ayrshire Women’s Aid Conference
Menzies Hotel, Irvine
27th November 2013
9.30 a.m. – 4.30 p.m.
White Ribbon Speaker Training
Ardeer Centre, Stevenston
28th November 2013
11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
White Ribbon Campaign Stall
Rivergate Mall, Irvine