16 days of action against domestic and sexual violence launched

From left: Zoe Gallen, Domestic Violence & Abuse Coordinator, Safer Merton: Cllr Eleanor Stringer, Deputy Leader of the Council; Cllr Mark Allison, Leader of the Council; Cllr Agatha Akyigyina, Cabinet Member for Partnerships, Public Safety and Tackling Crime; Chris Lee, Director of Environment and Regeneration

Merton launched its 16 days of action against violence, abuse and sexual assault campaign on Thursday 25 November with the theme ‘Merton Says No’, and the council will be working in partnership with the Metropolitan Police, the London Fire Brigade and other partners throughout.  

The council hosted a ceremony to mark the launch outside the Civic Centre: Councillors Mark Allison, the Council Leader, Eleanor Stringer, Deputy Leader, and Agatha Akyigyina, Cabinet Member for Partnerships, Public Safety and Tackling Crime, joined council staff to raise the ‘UK Says No More’ flag, which will fly for the full 16 days.  

The campaign also features a packed programme of events, training and social media. Launched on White Ribbon Day, a campaign to end violence and abuse in line with an international initiative, the 16 days against violence and abuse and sexual assault will run until 10 December.  

Its goal is to shine a spotlight on issues including not only domestic violence, but also child sexual exploitation, female genital mutilation, sexual violence and forced marriage. It also signposts people who may need help to organisations that can support them. 

Chris Lee, Merton’s Director of Environment and Regeneration, has also recorded a deeply moving and shocking video talking about the stark realities of domestic violence, as his mother was subject to during his childhood. 

Residents who are currently experiencing domestic violence and abuse can once again visit the One Stop Shop. The service, which reopened last month for face-to-face appointments after the pandemic forced its closure, is open every Monday (except bank holidays) from 9.30am-12.00pm at Morden Baptist Church and provides confidential support and advice from different agencies including Victim Support, and solicitors.

Since it launched in 2010 the service has helped more than 2,000 people. It will be by appointment only for now – please call 020 7801 1777 to book. If you are in imminent or actual danger, call 999. 

Cllr Akyigyina said: “Merton is proud to be working once again with all its partners to continue its longstanding support of the international campaign against violence and sexual assault.  

“The pandemic saw domestic violence reach concerning levels as people were forced to spend more time with their abusers. Lockdown was hard enough, but to have your concerns aggravated by the fear of physical or emotional violence in the home will have made life even more terrible.”   

“Our message this year as every year is clear, Merton says No More to domestic and sexual violence – too many domestic abuse incidents go unreported, so we want to make sure that people know they are not alone and help is available all year round.”