The Changing Hearts and Minds pack is a free educational pack created by Southall Black Sisters and our Ambassadors for Change, targeted to support teachers, educators and youth workshop facilitators to undertake prevention work on violence against black and minority (BME) women and girls. It equips educators with structured activities and resources that empower educators and students to raise awareness, challenge and positively influence young people attitudes and behaviours in relation to violence against BME women and girls.
It was designed with the intention of exploring the intersectionality of gender and race while examining stereotypes, tackling violence, challenging specific issues like forced marriage and FGM, and dissecting the pressures faced by BME women and girls within their communities. The pack provides educators with researched material to teach to their students in an effort to have informed and important discussions that contribute to the prevention and protection of potential victims.
The pack is accompanied by a series of short films made by Southall Black Sisters Ambassadors for Change, intended as an audio/visual prompt to support the content within the lesson plans and to support teachers by bringing the ‘experts into the classroom.’
Education holds an essential role in preventing violence against women and girls. During the 16 days of action to end violence against women and girls 2016, we have seen Teachers Unions demand the need for the government to make PSHE a compulsory subject within the national curriculum. Unions have asked for a ‘zero tolerance approach’ to sexual harassment and violence in schools. These calls are in response to the findings of a report by parliaments Women and Equalities committee, in which M.Ps found that sexual abuse and harassment had become “accepted as part of everyday life” in England schools. The inquiry found that in total 59% of girls and young women between the ages of 13-21 said they had faced some form of sexual harassment at school or college within the past year.
Southall Black Sisters, own experience of schools work corroborates the high levels of sexual harassment and bullying experienced by young women and girls within schools. Our schools work has supported female students to deliver awareness raising assemblies to challenge unwanted touching in schools in West London. Recommendation’s made by students within our Whole School’s Project, also mirrored the request by teachers unions and the women’s sector for PSHE to be mandatory and a societal problem that is tackled both by wider society and therefore requires a stronger government response.
Personal and Social health Education is critical in providing a space for teachers and students to explore and challenge healthy relationships and gendered violence. At Southall Black Sisters we consider it a great disservice to the prevention and protection of women and girls that despite the recommendation with then Women’s Equalities report, for PSHE to be made mandatory that the governments has chosen not to take this on board and instead abdicate the responsibility to individual schools to develop their own codes of practise and take a “holistic approach”. Furthermore, it is essential that the government understands that in relation to the prevention and protection of BME young women and girls, often schools are the primary source of safety for those who may be vulnerable of forced marriage and/or honour based violence and for whom effective high quality PSHE on the issues of gendered violence are potentially life saving. Mandatory PSHE ensures that all young people are universally able to access information and knowledge on their rights as opposed to the lottery of whether a young person is accessing a progressive school that values the benefits of PSHE within its curriculum.
It is our intention to acknowledge the highly pressured environment within which educators are operating. In the absence of mandatory PSHE, we hope that Changing Hearts and Minds enables education providers with easily accessible lesson plans and resources that can be trusted to create critical dialogue for young people, in creating respectful and equal relationships within schools and their wider communities.
Change a heart, change a mind, and save a life…
Where to download the pack:
The pack and more information can be found here: https://southallblacksisters.org.uk/reports/changing-hearts-and-minds