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PCC unites with leaders and partners to pledge to make Merseyside a safer place for women and girls

MERSEYSIDE'S Police Commissioner has united with leaders and partners to commit to a new region-wide plan aimed at making Merseyside a safer place for all women and girls. The 'Working in partnership to tackle Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG) Delivery Plan' was released on 24 November 2022, that sets out a clear ambition to protect women and girls who live, work and visit Merseyside, prevent violence, pursue offenders and ensure tackling VAWG is prioritised and treated with urgency.

The strategy, which has been agreed by all political leaders and has been contributed to by nearly 50 partners across the region, sets out a series of straight-forward and achievable actions which all agencies can deliver to help eradicate VAWG.

The VAWG Delivery Plan is the result of extensive consultation with professional partners, including:- frontline community groups and voluntary organisations, and brave women and girls from all across all 5 boroughs of Merseyside who came forward to share their lived experiences.

At the launch event today, approximately 50 partners will join for a minute's silence to remember all women and girls who have tragically lost their lives to male violence, including 12 year old Ava White, on the day before the 1st Anniversary of her murder.

The launch at the Quaker Meeting House will see all the partners sign the key pledge demonstrating their commitment to making Merseyside safer for all women and girls.

The event will also recognise the dedicated and determined work already being undertaken to tackle VAWG all the partners, including:- the Police, local authorities and 3rd sector.

The publication of this new strategy is just the start. Each of the actions will be driven forward by a dedicated group who will be responsible for ensuring progress and achieving key milestones, overseen and reviewed by the Police's Commissioner oversight board, the Merseyside Strategic Policing and Partnerships Board (MSPPB).

Merseyside's Police Commissioner Emily Spurrell said:- "There is an epidemic of VAWG in this country. Recent tragic and high-profile cases have brought this into sharp focus, highlighting just how far we still must go to eradicate such crimes. We know women and girls experience violence in our communities every day. It is culturally embedded; deep rooted in a society that was designed for men, and which enables misogynistic attitudes and sexism to fester. As Police Commissioner, my priority is to create a safe region for everyone; that means for all women and girls. This epidemic cannot be tackled by any 1 agency or organisation in isolation; we must respond collectively, urgently and with meaningful action if we are to make a genuine difference. This VAWG Delivery Plan is the shared commitment between me, our region's key leaders and partners to do better - to take action and be a force for positive change on behalf of all women and girls across Merseyside. This Plan will build upon the huge amount of good work already being undertaken by so many determined partners across the region. My heartfelt thanks go to all the women and girls who shared their experiences and challenges with me. While I cannot remove their pain, this VAWG Delivery Plan is the physical product of the collective pledge we have taken to ensure women and girls are safer in our Region."

Today's launch event is being held ahead of International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls, which will see a series of events taking place across the region to raise awareness of VAWG, remember those who have lost their lives and pledge to continue the fight to end VAWG.

While the VAWG Delivery Plan is focused on long term change, the Police Commissioner is also taking immediate steps to improve safety and provide additional support for women and girls. This includes:-

   Working in partnership with NHS England the region's 5 local authorities to pledge £3.2m for a dedicated aftercare support service for all victims of rape and sexual violence over the next 5 years delivered by RASA Merseyside and RASASC Cheshire and Merseyside. A further £2.5m has been committed to support young victims of exploitation.

   Securing £576,000 to expand the Safer Streets Liverpool campaign focused on making our region safer for women and girls. This includes extra uniformed patrols at transport hubs and on key routes at peak times, increased CCTV, providing bystander training to staff, an educational campaign aimed at tackling misogyny and a powerful marketing campaign focused on making it very clear that sexual violence is unacceptable.

   Offering free training to employers through the Domestic Abuse Workplace Scheme to ensure workplaces are safe places and by equipping staff to become Workplace Champions to help colleagues who may be at risk.

   Launching the new Victim Care Merseyside hub; which is a dedicated team of real on hand to make a real difference to victims of crime on Merseyside. Delivered by a local team of specially trained advisors, the hub provides free, confidential, non-judgemental advice and support to anyone affected by crime living in Merseyside.

Professor Zara Quigg, from LJMU's Public Health Institute who has supported the creation of the Plan, said:- "Having worked with the Police and Crime Commissioner's office, local partners and communities for many years, I'm enthused by the great efforts to address VAWG and its underlying root causes such as gender inequality and misogyny. The PCC's VAWG Delivery Plan builds on this work and aims to complement prevention approaches here in Merseyside, and through its very design has been driven by the voices of victims and survivors, and practitioners and services who work tirelessly to support them. The plan aims to provide a common and accountable framework to advance our collective prevention and response efforts, ensuring activities are trauma-informed, that resources and expertise are coordinated so we can get the most out of them, and that we not only intervene early but we actively address the underlying root causes."

If you've been affected by crime, Victim Care Merseyside is here to provide support. Call Freephone:- 08081753080, on weekdays between:- 8am and 6pm, or request support online at:- VictimCareMerseyside.Org at any time.


Biggest ever University strike begins in fight over pay, pensions and conditions

OVER 70,000 staff at 150 Universities across the UK begin 3 days of strike action on:- Thursday, 24 November 2022, over attacks on pay, working conditions and pensions. The strike is the biggest in the history of higher education and the University and College Union (UCU) is predicting historic turnout on its picket lines,

Staff will be picketing the entrances of every University each day of the action. The full strike dates are:-

   Thursday, 24 November 2022.

   Friday, 25 November 2022.

   Wednesday, 30 November 2022.

The strikes come after UCU members overwhelmingly voted:- "yes" to industrial action last month in 2 historic national ballots over attacks on pay and working conditions as well as pension cuts. The results are the 1st ever successful nationally aggregated ballots in the education sector since the Tories introduced anti-trade union laws in 2016. Despite the results, vice-chancellors have not made any improved offers.

The National Union of Students (NUS) has backed the strike action, which could see over 2.5m students impacted.

In the pay and working conditions dispute, the union's demands include a meaningful pay rise to deal with the cost of living crisis, as well as action to end the use of insecure contracts and deal with dangerously high workloads. Employers imposed a pay rise worth just 3% this year following over a decade of below inflation pay awards. On average University staff do 2 days additional work unpaid per week, whilst a 3rd of academic staff are on some form of temporary contract.

In the pension dispute, UCU is demanding employers revoke the cuts and restore benefits. The package of cuts made earlier this year will see the average member lose 35% from their guaranteed future retirement income. For those at the beginning of their careers the losses are in the hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The UK University sector generated record income of £41.1bn last year with the 150 vice-chancellors facing action collectively earning an estimated £45million. UCU said the sector can more than afford to meet staff demands [NOTE 8].

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said:- "University staff are taking the biggest strike action in the history of higher education. They have had enough of falling pay, pension cuts and gig economy working conditions; all whilst Vice Chancellors enjoy lottery win salaries and live it up in their grace and favour mansions. Staff are burnt out, but they are fighting back and they will bring the whole sector to a standstill. Vice Chancellors only have themselves to blame. Their woeful leadership has led to the biggest vote for strike action ever in our sector. Students are standing with staff because they know this can't go on. And they know that a sector which generates tens of billions of pounds each year from tuition fees can afford to treat its staff fairly. Further disruption can be avoided if the concerns of staff are addressed with urgency. But the overpaid Vice Chancellors killing our sector should be under no illusion: 70,000 dedicated University workers are ready to take even bigger action in the New Year."

National Union of Students Vice President Higher Education Chloe Field said:- "Students stand in solidarity with University staff going on strike. We have always been clear that staff working conditions are students' learning conditions, and for more than a decade both have come under attack from a sector that puts profits above education. Staff work hard to deliver a world class experience for students, but more and more are struggling under the pressures of increased workloads, falling pay, cuts to their pensions and insecure work. Universities and employers should agree to UCU's demands. We exist in the same system and our struggles are inextricably linked. Only by coming together and showing solidarity with each other can we achieve the real and lasting change we want for everyone who works and studies in this country."

The full list of institutions that will face strike action is available online, at:- UCU.Org.UK
. We would also be interested to know your thoughts on this topic, so please email them to our Newsroom at:- News24@SouthportReporter.Com.

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