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A leading event for specialist providers of domestic and sexual violence services will welcome a local speaker from West Mercia Women’s Aid.

The Women’s Aid Annual National Conference – which is being held on Thursday 11 and Friday 12 July – will see Jemma Price speaking about working with young women, the locally acclaimed CRUSH Project and how effective peer education can be as a forum for preventative work.

The event – which is attended by 400 delegates – is entitled ‘Working together for change’ and will take place at The University of Warwick in Coventry.  Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, will launch the new membership strategy at the conference. 

Other speakers will include : • Kier Starmer, Director of Public Prosecutions; • Jahmene Douglas, Women’s Aid Ambassador for Children and Young People, child survivor and X Factor finalist; • Tina Nash, domestic violence survivor and campaigner; • Stella Creasy MP, Labour and Co-operative MP for Walthamstow and One Billion Rising activist.

Jemma explained : “I was delighted to be approached by National Women’s Aid to speak at this year’s conference.  It will have a huge and positive impact on not just the work of West Mercia Women’s Aid but on the issue of domestic and sexual violence nationally.  Specifically, it will also offer an excellent platform for us to further promote the benefits of CRUSH and the positive and enduring impact it has on those young people who take part.”

West Mercia Women’s Aid developed the CRUSH Project which was launched in October 2011. Funded by the Big Lottery’s Young People’s Fund it helps teenagers, aged 13 to 19 years, to avoid abusive relationships, end an abusive relationship safely or better manage their exposure to domestic abuse in the household in which they live.

Since its launch, CRUSH has gone from strength to strength. Since June 2012 it has been running throughout West Mercia and has offered places to more than 250 young people.  In addition, organisations ran ‘closed’ groups throughout the area for 130 further young people.  CRUSH presentations have been delivered to a variety of professional bodies which work with young people, including West Mercia Police – these presentations have reached more than 3000 children and young people.

CRUSH helps young people learn through the experiences of fictional characters that they create and guide through a number of typical teenage scenarios, culminating in how to deal with an abusive relationship.  The programme is specifically designed to complement the subject matter around domestic abuse, healthy relationships and gender bullying that may take place in schools’ PSHE/Citizenship curriculums or initiatives such as Expect Respect.

Jan Frances, Chief Executive of West Mercia Women’s Aid said: “From its humble origin, 2013 will see the CRUSH Project rolled out across the UK.  There is no other programme in the country which provides the same services and we are justifiably proud of its immense achievements for children and young people.”