Balloon launch marks 16 Days of Action

Hundreds of balloons will be released tomorrow to mark the start of 16 days of action to raise awareness of domestic and sexual abuse and to encourage victims to ask for help.

Bedfordshire Domestic and Sexual Abuse Partnership is proud to be supporting the international 16 Days of Action for a fourth year in a row.

It runs from 25 November to 10 December and includes a host of events across Central Bedfordshire and Bedford to get people thinking about domestic and sexual abuse.

There will be pub quizzes, cakes sales, a fun run and a daily blog from various organisations involved in the campaign. These include Central Bedfordshire and Bedford Borough Councils, who jointly oversee the partnership, Bedfordshire Police and voluntary organisations

The events are designed to raise awareness of domestic and sexual abuse, promote support services, raise funds for local services which support those who have been affected by abuse and highlight the message that we all need to work together to support victims living within Bedfordshire.

The balloon launch will take place in Grove Gardens, Dunstable, at 11.30am tomorrow (Wednesday, 25 November), when the Partnership, along with Luton Borough Council will release 600 balloons. Each balloon represents 20 reports of domestic and sexual abuse locally within the last 12 months.

The event will be attended by the Police, the Police Commissioning Office, all three local authorities, support services that work within Bedfordshire and members of the public.

Following the launch, there will be an event at the Grove Theatre where local providers will be available to answer questions on their services and how they support victims or survivors. Tea, coffee and cakes will be on sale with all proceeds being donated to local services that work to support those affected by abuse.

Councillor Brian Spurr, Executive Member for Community Services at Central Bedfordshire Council, said: “The balloon launch will not only be a very eye-catching way of launching the 16 Days of Action, but also a very visual way of highlighting the number of incidents reported locally to police.

“These are really just the tip of the iceberg, and hopefully by raising awareness of the issue as well as local support services, it will encourage more victims to come forward.

“We all need to work together to support victims and help prevent these crimes.”

Cllr Colleen Atkins, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety and Regulatory Services at Bedford Borough Council, said: “Events such as these show us that survivors of domestic and sexual abuse go through enormous challenges but can smile again with the right support.

“We have seen an increase in the number of incidences logged due to victims having greater confidence in coming forward. We are determined to assist people every step of the way, whenever and by whatever means they get in touch.

“Thanks also to Bedfordshire Domestic & Sexual Abuse Partnership for their new look website which launched earlier this year, providing people with a discreet way of accessing the services on offer which will help them stay safe.”

Bedfordshire Police handled almost 12,000 reports of domestic and sexual abuse from September 2014 to August 2015 – but only 30 per cent of domestic abuse and 10 per cent of sexual abuse is reported to police,

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