By Tom Young
The Building Healthy Relationships Project is a student led collaboration based at York St John University, working in partnership with Survive, IDAS (Independent Domestic Abuse Services) and York College, that aims to highlight the importance of healthy relationships, emphasise consent and respect, and to strengthen the prevention of sexual violence and harassment on campus.
The Building Healthy Relationships Project has conducted focus groups with students to ask about their understanding of healthy relationships as well as an anonymous survey asking about students’ personal experience of domestic abuse, sexual violence and harassment. The project is now working with students to develop a range of preventative materials such as posters, theatre and dance performances and a short film which reflect some of the common themes raised in the focus group and survey by students. We want as much variety as possible in what our students develop as this would make sure our representation is inclusive and that everyone’s voice is heard.
We are currently seeking YSJU creative writers to get involved with our collaboration in the lead up to spring, so that we can host a collection of work at our campaign event in March. If you would like to submit creative writing related to healthy relationships, consent, domestic violence, sexual violence or harassment please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject heading ‘Creative Writing Submission’. This could include flash fiction, short stories, poetry, scriptwriting, experimental writing, or any other forms you wish to explore.
If you are struggling for inspiration, the focus groups we ran with students highlighted the lack of awareness and understanding around emotional abuse and that sexual harassment is common on nights out in social areas such as clubs and bars. You can use these examples as a basis if you wish, or you could explore perspectives you personally feel need representation. You could even share work with your peers and work collaboratively; how you provide a voice for these experiences is up to you.
We would like to make it clear that this project request is not about disclosure and would encourage you to write fiction, although we do acknowledge the benefit to individuals of basing fiction on real life experience. If you would prefer your work to remain anonymous, tell us in the body of your email and we will not attach your name to the work you submit.
As we are keen to spread awareness with the work collected for this project, we would like to make it clear that by submitting your creative writing to us, you are giving us your permission to share your writing at our showcase events on campus, as well as externally. Your work will be added to The Building Healthy Relationships Project blog which will be shared on social media platforms and displayed around campus during our campaign events. As such, please be aware that by submitting your work to us, your work will be visible and accessible to all.
We are also hoping to have writers read their work at our events, so slam poetry and spoken word performers are encouraged to get involved. If you would be comfortable with performing your submissions at our events, please do let us know.
We appreciate the nature of this topic is extremely sensitive and would urge you to seek support if you have been affected by sexual violence, domestic abuse or harassment, now or in the past. Support is available from:
York St John University, Welfare Advisers who are in the Wellbeing Team. Appointments can be arranged by inquiring at the Student Information Desk in Holgate, emailing email@example.com or calling 01904 876 477 and asking for a welfare appointment.
Survive: Support for survivors of rape and sexual abuse in York and North Yorkshire. Helpline: 01904 642 830
IDAS (Independent Domestic Abuse Services): Specialist charity in Yorkshire supporting people affected by domestic abuse and sexual violence.
Helpline: 03000 110 110
An online help chat is also available on their website: www.idas.org.uk/
Bridge House: A sexual assault referral centre for North Yorkshire and the city of York
Tel: 0330 223 0362 (9am-5pm) 24-hour answer phone
Out of Hours Help Line: 0330 223 0099
We look forward to receiving your creative responses. Should you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Very best wishes,
The Building Healthy Relationships Team.