250 people joined a march on Friday 29th November in Exeter to "take back the streets".
The Reclaim the Night March was organised by Devon Rape Crisis Service using a grant made by Fawcett Devon. The purpose was to draw attention to the lack of safety for women and girls on our city's streets. The protesters sent out a loud and raucous message that the level of sexual harassment and violence experienced by women is not acceptable.
Following a dance of solidarity, the 250 strong march followed a route around the city centre, passing many licenced premises where women are particularly vulnerable to unwanted and offensive attention. But even away from the pubs and clubs, women feel vulnerable and these marchers were clear that women will not put up with behaviour which makes them fearful of being out at night. The marchers came from Devon Rape Crisis and Fawcett Devon, from the Exeter Women's Labour Group, from the University Gender Equality Group and also individual men and women who care about these issues deeply.
Thank you to everyone who attended, it was a fantastic evening.
Trustees, Staff and Volunteers from DRCS gave a joint press conference yesterday with the Police and Crime Commissioner, Tony Hogg to mark his first year in office. He used the occasion to announce a grant of £20,000 to us, which we are delighted about. We have struggled this year to secure financial sustainability and this one off grant ensures that we finish the financial year without any shortfall. We are really confident about financial sustainability in future years as more commissioning opportunities present themselves locally, but we are very grateful to Tony for stepping in at this time so that we were not placed in the position of making difficult decisions about our future viability. We have worked very closely with the Police and Crime Commissioner since he was elected in November 2012; he shows a great deal of understanding of the violence against women and girls agenda and this grant is evidence of his commitment to the vital support services we offer.
Carly Macnamara, Linda Regan, Tony Hogg, Fee Scott, Hannah Fortune
Fee Scott, Tony Hogg
Devon Rape Crisis Service was delighted that one of their volunteers, Hannah, won the Keeping People Safe & Well Volunteer of the Year Award, sponsored by the Mildmay-White Fund. The result was announced at the Volunteer of the Year Awards on Thursday 10th October, an event organised by Devon Community Foundation, a grant making charity that supports hundreds of small voluntary and community groups helping local people in need, including Devon Rape Crisis Service.
DRCS is very lucky to have a group of amazing volunteers who provide an invaluable service to women in Devon who have experienced rape or sexual violence. Hannah was chosen as the winner for the award because of the wide range of work that she tirelessly carries out at DRCS and the fact that she is one of our youngest volunteers. Part of Hannah's prize was a cheque for £250 to spend on the organisation and she has asked for the money to go towards volunteer resources and services for younger women. Thank you to everyone who voted and well done Hannah!
The Devon Rape Crisis Service Annual Report 2012-2013 has now been published and is available to download and read on our site.
BBC Radio Devon interviewed one of our volunteers, Hannah, as part of their series on raising awareness about organisations who were given funding from the Devon Community Foundation (which was received through Dulverton Trust Fund). Please click on the link to hear the interview and go to 24 minutes from the start to hear it: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01fhbc1
We were very pleased to welcome Ben Bradshaw MP to our offices on Friday 6th September. We talked through our history and achievements and discussed the picture of local commissioning with him in detail. He's very knowledgeable about the voluntary sector in general and very supportive of our aims around sexual violence and was able to give us some advice and offer his support to sustaining our vital service.
We were delighted to receive a visit from Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall on 16th July.
She came to our office and spent time talking to service users, staff, volunteers, trustees and patrons (pictured).
She also met with friends and supporters of DRCS including the Lord Mayor of Exeter, The Leader of Devon County Council, the Chairman of Torbay Council and the Police and Crime Commissioner.
The visit was a great honour for us and we were all struck by The Duchess of Cornwall's understanding and sensitivity around the issues of sexual violence.
"I feel like I have a much calmer outlook in how I deal with difficult emotions. It has given me space to process my experiences safely."
"It helped me move forward. I have been able to leave my house and go out. I can now do things I never thought I would be able to do again."
"Helped to make sense of things and re-assurance that just because he was found not guilty doesn't mean it didn't happen."