Category Archives: Arts and culture

Sheffield joins One Billion Rising global protest to demand an end to violence against women

Yesterday I was delighted to join the One Billion Rising gathering in Sheffield, which joined communities around the globe in a joint act of solidarity to protest at violence against women.

The slogan this year was “Rise, Dance, Disrupt”, and dance was what we did in Sheffield, with performers presenting dance with an appropriately internationalist flavour with flair, verve and skill.

Then all (or nearly all),  of the 200 or so participants, joined in the Break the Chain dance, with energy, enthusiasm and varying levels of skill

I did join in – although carefully down the back, since my attempts to keep in rhythm and step are something the world is probably best protected from.

In between, there was serious talk about how our government, many governments, are failing to take the action that’s needed.

The lack of funding for victims of violence was one focus. Rape crisis centres and refuges are left to struggle with crumbs of funding, frantic fundraising and continuing uncertainty, when they should receive stable, long-term core funding for the best, and most financially efficient, services.

Another was the need for good quality, inclusive sex and relationship education in our schools (something Green MP Caroline Lucas has been fighting for with her PSHE bill).

And there was rightful anger at the government’s failure to sign the Istanbul Convention.


Another wonderful Women of the Year lunch

I was honoured to be invited to my second Women of the Year lunch yesterday.

One of the many lovely stories was that of Razan Alsous, from Huddersfield, who came to Britain from Syria five years ago and founded a fast-expanding cheese production business, Yorkshire Dama Cheese, using her professional background as a microbiologist.

But the biggest focus was on the Hillsborough families, and their 27-year fight for truth. Their award was presented by Theresa May, who was given credit as Home Secretary for being more prepared to listen to the evidence in this case than previous incumbents had been.

The Prime Minister was, however, under critical focus as Liz Clegg, who founded and runs the Women’s and Children’s Centre in the Calais refugee camp, received her Courage award. Liz implored the Prime Minister to allow the children to come to Britain before the camp is bulldozed. The Red Cross has identified 187 children who have rights to come to Britain under the Dublin regulations, but Britain appears to plan to accept just 25. And there’s been no action on the promise to bring in unaccompanied children under the Dubs amendment.

cu-zyynwiaaygmjThe strong Northern focus was reflected in the Lifetime Achievement Award, which went to Dame Fanny Waterman, founder of the Leeds International Piano Competition. She spoke with wry pride of how others had told her she couldn’t do this in Leeds, it would have to be London, and how she’d successfully ignored them.

The Inspiration award was won by Lizzie Jones from Halifax, who set up the  Danny Jones Defibrillator Fund, in memory of her husband, who died suddenly while playing rugby league.