Visual Communication students collaborate with Women’s Health Matters to take 16 Days of Action

24 November 2021

Students from BA (Hons) Visual Communication have been collaborating with Women’s Health Matters, a Leeds based organisation which provides specialist support to women and girls, on an international campaign to give a voice to victim/survivors of domestic abuse.

The social media campaign, ’16 Days of Action’ is a collaboration between one of the organisation’s support groups, Breathe Free, and students from the University. Funded by the National Lottery Community Fund, Breathe Free aims to support women aged 16 and above who’ve experienced complex trauma, usually domestic abuse, and are at risk of having a child removed into care as a result. The women are supported through a six-month course which looks at different aspects of emotional welling, with a focus on building healthy relationships. Participants are then invited to share their knowledge as a Breathe Free volunteer.

Image: The Power and Control Wheel is a tool can be used recognise and understand the tactics that abusers use. Design by Hattie Barnes

Working alongside three Breathe Free volunteers, Students from BA (Hons) Visual Communication have created a series of posts for social media that will be shared over 16 days from the 25 November 2021. The students met with the volunteers to discuss what they wanted, and didn’t want to be shared, including the avoidance of language, colours or imagery that could potentially be triggering or upsetting.

The volunteers were keen to put their own lived experiences into the campaign, working with the students to create something that they hope will help to raise awareness for other victim/survivors of domestic abuse and violence. One victim/survivor volunteer said of the experience: “I’m a bit overwhelmed. I feel quite emotional. If everyone could listen like you’ve listened then this might go somewhere”

Image: Designed by Casey Lawlor

Hattie Barnes, a final year BA (Hons) Visual Communication student who has worked on the campaign since its inception shared her thoughts: “I've found working on this project more rewarding than any other. It's been an amazing experience listening to survivors with lived experience and translating their experience and thoughts into meaningful and valuable work. Although at times it's been tough emotionally, the experience has shown me that this is the line of work I want to focus my career towards as it can create a real impact. As a group, we've all enjoyed the project so much and want to thank Breathe Free and the volunteers for the opportunity!”

This is the first time Women’s Health Matters have produced their own social media campaign and the students were keen to leave them with a lasting design identity that could be used in the future.

Taylor Harrison, Project Lead Breathe Free said: “Working with Leeds Arts University had been a great experience, not only for the organisation but for the Breathe Free volunteers. Drawing on their own lived experience of domestic abuse, the volunteers wanted to help raise awareness of the effects, and to show other victim/survivors that there help and support out there and a light at the end of the tunnel. The collaboration between the victim/survivors and students has led to very impactful content which will be shared on social media as part of the international campaign 16 Days of Action. I have been highly impressed with the professionalism and the commitment of the students”

Find out more and follow the campaign on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Image: Designed by Tarun Kaur