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Girls Making History

Knowle West Media Centre

Knowle West Media Centre

Knowle West Media Centre

14 October 2015

Girls Making History (GMH) is an ongoing Bristol-based project working with young women aged 13-24.  Following initial research by Penny Evans and a team at Knowle West Media Centre, Penny and Helen Thomas, University of Bristol Law School, designed and led further research into how digital tools could be used to raise awareness of the cultural normalisation of partner violence in teenage relationships and social networks.

The project harnessed the expertise of young women’s direct experience of violence and coercive control in their relationships to develop digital prototypes that could potentially support teenage girls at risk of, or already in the early stages of, abusive relationships.

GMH convened an advisory steering group to draw in expertise from academics, charities and third sector organisations, fostering new working relationships to inform and shape future work.

For participants of the project, and for the wider public, GMH increased understanding and confidence in recognising and challenging abusive behaviours. Several of the young women involved went on to pursue employment or educational opportunities, and the development of a network between relevant statutory and third sector bodies is facilitating new ways of cross-sector working.

Penny said: “We are excited about the potential of this project and are working with Horstmann, an engineering company, to develop a prototype of the ‘Emotimeter’ – a digital tool that will enable teenagers to record changes in their emotional wellbeing and monitor the health of their relationship. Resources are still needed for testing and development; we are keen to hear from anyone who would be interested in supporting us.”

The methodological learnings from GMH are being further developed in the designs of projects within Productive Margins: Regulating for Engagement and an academic paper is being published on this topic, with a further paper looking at coproduction and arts-based practices.

The team were highly commended for their work on the project at the 2014/15 Engagement Awards. The judges were impressed by this project as an outstanding example of co-production which involved innovative techniques and resulted in tangible outcomes.


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