Our Free 2 Choose Project has been evaluated has said what we already knew – that the project was a great success. The project aimed to educate young people and adults about the subject of forced marriage. On a wider scale it aimed to encourage young people to have a voice in their own futures pertaining to marriage and relationships. Through their learning, we hoped that the young people would be inspired to use their knowledge not only in their own lives but to become ambassadors on the subject and discuss and debate the subject with their families and peers.
In each school Jo Lane from Inspire Safer Futures delivered an hour long interactive training session for pupils around the subject of domestic abuse and forced marriage. Act On Info then worked creatively with the pupils for the rest of the school day to create a piece of theatre based around their response to the training that could be performed in a playback session to a full year group at their school and at the Free 2 Choose conference in March 2014.
Staff training on domestic abuse and forced marriage was delivered for key safeguarding leads and other staff members in each of the three schools. The training placed forced marriage in its wider context of domestic abuse and violence against women so staff recognized it as a human rights abuse, not a cultural issue. In each of the schools talks were given by forced marriage survivor Sameem Ali about her own experience and solicitor Kathryn Wright from Ayres Waters on the legal perspective.
In each of the schools a whole year group was invited to a special playback assembly about forced marriage. This assembly consisted of Jo Lane giving a short informative talk, the pupils who had created their theatre piece performed and Sameem Ali gave a talk and held a question and answer session with the young people.
We are very grateful to the Forced marriage Unit of the government for funding our project in Manchester schools this year and will be taking it into schools in Salford next school year. If you would like to know more about our forum theatre workshops please click here. We will be writing more about this topic in the weeks to come but in the meantime – If you or someone you know is at risk of forced marriage please contact the Forced Marriage Unit on: 020 7008 0151, from overseas: +44 (0)20 7008 0151, out of hours: 020 7008 1500.