Sports stars unite to end violence against women
"Having backing from Leicestershire’s top sports clubs is fantastic, as they have the opportunity to influence those that admire them."
Sir Clive Loader, Police and Crime Commissioner for Leicestershire and Rutland
Players from Leicestershire County Cricket Club, Leicester City FC, Leicester Tigers RFC, Leicester Riders Basketball Club, and University of Leicester Rugby Club teamed up at Grace Road, home of Leicestershire County Cricket Club, to show their support for How Many Times, a campaign that aims to increase reporting of domestic and sexual violence in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.
Sir Clive Loader, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Leicestershire and Rutland, has funded the campaign. He said: “It is extremely important that, through campaigns like this, awareness of these appalling crime types is raised so it encourages victims to come forward, report the abuse and seek the help and support that is out there. Having backing from Leicestershire’s top sports clubs is fantastic, as they have the opportunity to influence those that admire them.”
Although they came from different sports, the athletes were united in their condemnation of violence against women and their support of efforts to get victims reporting. Domestic and sexual violence affects thousands of women, girls and children in Leicestershire and Rutland every year.
Leicester City FC was represented by recently-signed striker Andrej Kramaric, who cost the Foxes £9 million in January’s transfer window.
Club Ambassador Alan Birchenall MBE said: “To see so many people come out and support this campaign is fantastic, and hopefully it’ll go a long way in helping to stop domestic and sexual violence. I think they have a duty as sportsmen and women to make a stand against violence because people look up to them as role models.”
Leicestershire County Cricket club fielded 26 year old Ollie Freckingham, the team’s highest wicket taker in 2013. Leicester’s strong cricket tradition and future was evident with captain Emily Marriott, rising star Una Paramjothy and Cricket Development Officer Tom Leonard attending from the county’s women’s side.
Ollie said: “Leicestershire County Cricket Club is pleased to lend our support to the How Many Times campaign. It is so important to raise awareness of the problems of domestic and sexual violence, and how people can get help if they need it.”
Leicester Tigers backed the campaign too, and number eight player Ed Milne was joined Martha Perkins and Sophie Alexander of ten-time varsity champions Leicester University Women’s Rugby squad.
A spokesperson for Leicester Tigers said: “Rugby is an all-inclusive sport where respect is central to the enjoyment of the game. We feel it is very important to back campaigns that address issues affecting people from all walks of life. We are backing the campaign to tackle domestic and sexual violence, but everyone can do their part, whether that means sharing the helpline numbers or looking out for friends and family, and learning how to spot the signs. We all need to be more aware of the signs so people can get help earlier.”
Alex Bugg, Captain of the University of Leicester Women's Rugby Club, said: “International Women’s Day is a time to recognise the contribution of women across the world and strive for equality. We were proud to stand alongside male and female role models from different sports and support this fantastic campaign. We can all play a role in tackling it – even just asking people if they are alright and passing on the helpline numbers helps.”
Leicester’s top basketball team, the Riders, showed their support with top players Rheanne Bailey and Georgia Jones, and Managing Director Russell Levenston getting involved.
Russell Levenston said: “We’re pleased to get behind this campaign. These issues affect men and women of all ages, sexual orientations and beliefs, as a team, the Riders are proud to have great links to the schools and the community across Leicestershire and Rutland. We hope that we can inspire more people of all ages to help tackle domestic and sexual violence.”
The How Many Times campaign, which is being run across Leicester, Leicestershire, and Rutland is raising awareness of the wide ranging help and support available to victims and their families.
Created with the help of survivors of violence, the How Many Times campaign takes its name from national research that shows people will experience 36 incidents of domestic abuse on average before seeking help.
Survivors who worked with us to produce this campaign told us ‘how many times’ resonated with them because they suffered abuse multiple times before coming forward to seek help. They said their lives had got better since the abuse ended thanks to the range of services available.
Assistant city mayor for neighbourhood services at Leicester City Council, Cllr Sarah Russell, said: “I'm delighted so many sporting role models have joined our campaign to tackle domestic and sexual violence and get victims the support they need to stop the abuse."
Cllr Joe Orson, Cabinet Lead Member for Safer Communities for Leicestershire County Council, said: “Sport can be good for bringing people together, and I am heartened to see sport bring people together to stand up against the serious issues of domestic abuse and sexual violence and raise awareness of the support that is available.”
Cllr Roger Begy, Leader Rutland County Council and Community Safety Lead, said: “Sport connects very many people whether through participating or watching. Getting the support of so many of our sporting role models is important in getting everyone to recognise the real existence of domestic abuse and sexual violence, and importantly to promote the fantastic support available locally for victims.”
Sexual violence 0300 333 6533 (Leicester City, Leicestershire and Rutland)
Domestic violence 0300 123 0918 (Leicester City)
Domestic violence 0300 303 1844 (Leicestershire)
Domestic violence 0300 365 0112 (Rutland)