This week I met the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cumbria, Peter McCall. The occasion was Springfield’s AGM in Kendal. Now for those of you not in the know - Springfield is a charity dedicated to raising awareness about domestic abuse. They provide a safe haven for women in desperate need and operate a community hub focused on helping people in South Lakeland recover from the devastating effects of abuse. Earlier this year I became a Trustee and use my photography, marketing and PR skills to help them where I can.
The AGM was held in a lovely old building - the Friends Meeting House - it’s a Grade II listed building, built around 1816 and worth a look if you are hanging around Stramongate. However I digress! The Chair, Jenny Draper, and Strategic Manager, Victoria Roberts, spoke eloquently about the work and successes of the charity and made it clear that more awareness in our collective communities is required. Prevention has to be high on the political agenda, with one avenue - educating young people on what healthy relationships look like - a necessary part of the strategy.
Last year, in Cumbria alone 4000 incidents of domestic abuse were reported to the police. A recent report by the National Rural Crime Network notes that rural domestic abuse is a particular problem in the UK as it is kept so hidden. Tight-knit communities often unwittingly help to keep victims in abusive relationships, while perpetrators often masquerade as pillars of rural life.
For Springfield, and the other domestic abuse charities in this county and across rural Britain, there is still a lot of work to do. For my part I hope to continue making a small contribution by helping some of these people regain their power and give them a visual and written voice to tell their heart wrenching stories.