Cumbria Constabulary is teaming up with Carlisle United and the Cumberland Football Association to launch United Against Abuse - a county-wide, football-themed domestic abuse campaign.
With the help of the county’s leading football club and the authority which oversees football across the county, Cumbria Constabulary will be campaigning to confront, reduce and raise awareness of domestic abuse in Cumbria.
By working together with partners, including domestic abuse charities, the Constabulary aims to reduce domestic abuse offending, encourage greater reporting of abuse and increase the understanding of members of the public – including children – about domestic abuse and the support available.
Detective Inspector James Yallop said: “Using the power of football and sport I want this campaign to send out a strong message from everyone; men, women and children, that domestic abuse has to stop. Domestic abuse effects people for the rest of their lives and people shouldn’t have to live like that.
“People who abuse their partner or a family member can be of any gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity or age. Their actions can affect the lives of entire families.
“It can be really difficult for people to report domestic abuse to the Police so it is important they know what support is available. Organisations and charities such as Turning the Spotlight are able to offer support to anyone who may be abusing their partner or displaying unhealthy behaviour within their relationship, so I would encourage people to use those services at the earliest opportunity.”
As well as the launch event, Detective Inspector Yallop will be attending youth football festivals being held by the Cumberland Football Association around the county later this summer to help educate children and adults about domestic abuse, how to spot it, report it and how to get help and support.
Detective Inspector Yallop said: “Every victim of domestic abuse needs to know our officers are here for them. In addition, there is so much support available to help keep people safe.
“People who are abusive to their partner or family also need to know that there is help and support, but if they choose to ignore that help the Police will take positive action in respect of any incident we attend”.
“Finally, we want children in the county who are witnessing domestic abuse in their homes to know that it is not normal – it is not the way to treat someone you are in a relationship with – and there is help available.”
Also, as part of the campaign, Cumbria Constabulary will be encouraging teams to play a match and/or a training session whilst wearing a red stripe on their face to raise awareness of domestic abuse. The red stripe initiative was launched in Italy’s Serie A at the start of the 2018/19 season.
The Cumberland FA have written to teams in the county asking them to take part. Those teams who play with the red stripe and tweet picture of players doing so with the hashtag #UnitedAgainstAbuse will enter a competition to win a full football kit for their team, complete with a ‘United Against Abuse’ sponsor.
Cumberland Football Association Chief Executive officer Ben Snowden said: “We are delighted to support Cumbria Constabulary with this campaign. Grassroots football is often a microcosm of wider society and whilst The FA’s Respect programme is having an impact on behaviour, any report of abuse is one too many. We therefore hope that in raising awareness of both campaigns we will send a message that abuse, of whatever type, will not be accepted inside or outside of football.”
Carlisle United’s Chief Executive Nigel Clibbens said: “We are proud to work alongside Cumbria Constabulary to help raise awareness of an issue which can impact anyone in society.
“We join the police in their call to show domestic abuse the red card, and I know that is a message which everyone involved in our football club would support fully, including our supporters.
“If this campaign helps to encourage one person to come forward and report abuse or impact one would-be perpetrator, then it has been worthwhile.”
Claire Powell, Contract Manager at Victim Support in Cumbria, said: “It’s great to see local partners coming together to raise awareness of domestic abuse and the support available.
“There are still many barriers that prevent victims of domestic abuse from coming forward, but the more we talk about the issue and help educate people on different types of abuse, the more people we can support.
“It’s also important that victims know they can seek help, without reporting to the police.”
Noelle Kirk, Assistant Director for Barnardo’s in Cumbria said: “This campaign is an important step in bringing different communities together with police to call time on domestic abuse in Cumbria.
“Those who have experienced domestic abuse frequently tell support agencies the hardest part of recovery is dealing with the psychological distress caused by the abusive behaviour, such as isolation, exhaustion, humiliation and degradation.
"Leaving the abusive situation is the first step of a long journey for survivors and their children to rebuild their lives, and it’s vital that people are aware of support available locally to help them.
“Specialist workers from Barnardo’s run recovery sessions for survivors and their children, teaching life skills to deal with trauma they’ve been subjected to, recognise abusive traits and develop coping strategies, helping them realise the abuse they suffered was not their fault.”
Peter McCall, Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “Domestic abuse is a serious issue that must be tackled in communities all across the country.
“Because it tends to occur behind closed doors it is easy to think that domestic abuse does not happen in Cumbria, but it does and can happen to anyone.
“We all need to be aware about what is considered domestic abuse and I want everyone to know how they can come forward and report it, there are agencies ready to help and the police will always take domestic abuse and violence seriously and - just to be clear – abuse isn’t just physical.
“I would encourage anyone in an abusive relationship to come forward – you will be believed and you will be protected.
“This initiative between the Constabulary, Carlisle United and Cumberland Football Association working in partnership to raise awareness on this serious issue is a great idea and I am really grateful for their commitment to dealing with abuse.”