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A Documented Success: The New Domestic Abuse Policy

As graduation has now passed and the next season creeps closer for the remaining players, it’s a good time for me to reflect upon my incredible three years in UYWRUFC. There have been tackles, tries, tears (of joy) and one amazing tour. But, as a committee member, one achievement that stands out to me is the clubs’ work with local domestic abuse charity IDAS, and our monumental Domestic Abuse Policy for the Student’s Union (YUSU).

For those who read my previous blog, you will be aware that the Women’s Rugby Club submitted a policy to YUSU regarding domestic abuse which set out raising awareness for domestic abuse, increasing signposting for support services, and lobbying the university to adopt a formal policy. Six months down the line, the wheels are spinning into motion and we want to give you a brief update of what has already changed.

The biggest tangible change which has been accomplished in time for the next intake of freshers is in university services. Alongside the YUSU Welfare Officer Dom Smithies and Women’s Officers Mia and Lucy, the Women’s Rugby Club have supported the creation of an Incident Reporting Form to report on student misconduct. This commits the University to upholding its duty of care to protect its community and promote wellbeing, equality and fairness. Most importantly, the creation of a centralised and accessible space for students to report their problems alleviates the stress and pressure from the student, should they feel vulnerable or anxious regarding the incident, such as a case of domestic abuse. This is a huge step forward for the university and should see problems, such as low reporting rates on harassment, mitigated.

Another triumph of ours is the increase in support for IDAS on campus and the greater integration of their services to the university community. Earlier this summer, on 11th June, we held a touch rugby tournament on 22 Acres and raised over £120 for IDAS. We will continue to fundraise throughout the year to support the invaluable services they provide in York and beyond. We have also been working behind the scenes in preparation for freshers week in ensuring IDAS will have a stall at freshers fair to disseminate vital information and helplines to incoming students. We further plan to get domestic and sexual abuse on the agenda of compulsory freshers talks to ensure that all students are entering a safe environment where they know their wellbeing prioritised.

Finally, despite the season being over, this summer has been a time full of wins after winning numerous awards at various ceremonies across Yorkshire. Much of our success has been borne from the dedication of our club and committee members who have worked tirelessly with IDAS to improved university services and student wellbeing. You can see a list of our awards here and we hope that our successes will inspire other student groups to make a difference in their community:

  • Coach of the Year Award (York Active Awards)

  • Campaign of the Year Award (Love York Awards)

  • Equal Opportunities Award (Colours Ball)

  • Club of the Year Award (Colours Ball)

  • Runner up- Yorkshire Great Team (BUCS Yorkshire Awards)

Going forward, the Women’s Rugby club will continue to press for a University policy on domestic and sexual abuse, so that a standard procedure can be followed in dealing with such sensitive cases. Using our support from IDAS and a number of university staff, we remain hopeful that this year will be one of success. I now hand over my role as Fundraising and Sponsorship officer to the lovely Holly and Amy and I’m so excited to see what more the club can achieve this year. Watch this space for more updates!

Lottie out xoxo

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