Last week saw the launch of Nottingham’s new Consent Coalition – a local initiative working to raise awareness of the importance of consent, challenge myths about sexual violence, and encourage survivors to access support. Commissioned in line with Sexual Abuse and Violence Awareness Week, the coalition offers a set of initial resources – including a survey, a series of awareness-raising posters, and a booklet for survivors, promoted over an eight-week period.
Making up the coalition are a host of specialist sexual violence sector groups, statutory services and educational providers with a combined aim to dispel common myths about consent: ‘do you know that removing a condom during sex without consent is rape?’, it asks, ‘do you know that you need to get consent for every type of sexual activity?’. Answers are recorded through the coalition’s deftly created Consent and Sexual Violence Awareness Survey, which is designed to find out what people already know about consent and the law, and will be used to help with the development of future resources.
“the guide will help give survivors the information needed to make informed choices following the event of sexual assault or rape.”
In support of survivors, the coalition have also created an informative booklet named Your Journey which outlines various reporting methods and information on support networks. The guide received immediate interest from across the UK and representatives of the coalition from the SVSS, Nottingham’s Sexual Violence Support Services, have made plans to meet with the Director of Public Prosecutions to discuss its creation, partnership potential and what a UK-wide booklet might look like. Locally though, the guide will help give survivors the information needed to make informed choices following the event of sexual assault or rape.
The University of Nottingham announced their involvement in the coalition at the beginning of last week; an alliance especially important following the startling rise in allegations of sexual misconduct at British universities. Last year, Freedom of Information laws revealed a supposed combined increase of 82 percent in reports of rape and sexual assault across the UK in that past year; a frightening statistic suggesting severe lapses in understanding and judgement amongst student sexual encounters. “This campaign shows our dedication to protecting and educating people”, said Councillor Rebecca Langton, Portfolio Holder for Communities at Nottingham City Council, and “we hope that people will embrace this campaign and share our vision of being a city free from sexual violence”.
“increase of 82 percent in reports of rape and sexual assault across the UK in that past year”
Nottinghamshire Police are in strong partnership with the project and encourage any victims of sexual offences to contact 101. “Reports of rape and sexual violence have risen over recent years”, stated Nottinghamshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Paddy Tipping, “and I urge anyone who has been attacked in this way to report it to the police so that the person responsible can be brought to justice”. The University of Nottingham also runs its own Let’s Be Clear on Consent campaign, featuring information, resources and support services which can be accessed via the university website. I urge readers to familiarise themselves with these relevant local support networks, as well as test their understanding of consent and the law in the survey linked below.
More information regarding the coalition can be found at: https://nottssvss.org.uk/consent-coalition/
Take the survey: https://nottssvss.org.uk/consent-coalition/consent-survey/
Your Journey booklet: https://nottssvss.org.uk/consent-coalition/resources/support-and-reporting/