An initiative involving an Edge Hill University academic which has empowered young Europeans against sexual abuse, celebrated its success with an end of project conference in Vienna.

Senior Lecturer in Sociology of Sport, Dr Mike Hartill has co-ordinated the UK’s involvement in the European Union funded Sport Respects Your Rights project since 2013. The project was set up to develop the ability of young Europeans involved in sport at a grass roots level to protect themselves against sexualised violence and gender harassment. Through the project young people have been encouraged to work with project leaders and create their own youth-led campaigns, raising awareness and promoting social change in their sports clubs and educational institutions.

As part of the project, Edge Hill University student volunteers had the opportunity to deliver workshops for sport students and organise events to raise awareness of sexual violence, initiating the #STOP1in5 Twitter campaign. Student volunteers including recent Sport Studies graduates Oliver Davy-Day and Joel Donnelly, attended the end of project conference as youth ambassadors, meeting European representatives and professional athletes and feeding back on their experience of the project.

The end of project conference took place on Thursday 26th and Friday 27th February in Vienna featuring delegates from 16 different EU countries and speakers from across sport, including television personality and charity campaigner Charlie Webster, and former Spanish Olympic Gymnast, Gloria Viseras, who both spoke movingly about their own experiences of sexual abuse in a sporting environment.

Senior Lecturer in Sociology of Sport, Dr Mike Hartill said:

“The conference was a huge success and a great tribute to the hard work of all the young people involved. Representatives from 16 different EU countries attended and the quality of speakers and participants was excellent, from celebrity sports people and world leading academics to ministers of state and members of the European Parliament. They all got behind the #STOP1in5 campaign and Edge Hill can be very proud of the impact that our volunteers have made to the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse in sport.”

Duncan Craig, the CEO of Survivors Manchester also attended the conference and spoke of his experience in his most recent blog post on the Huffington post.

Duncan Craig said:

“The Sport Respect’s Your Rights UK team are standing up and making sure everyone is counted. I had the absolute honour and pleasure of getting to know some of the young men from the team, whilst in Vienna, engaging in conversations about the silence of male survivors, the impact of sexual abuse and exploitation, and listening to their thoughts and ideas was inspiring.

“Nick, Ollie, Joel, Jamie and Joe are a formidable bunch of young men, all expertly supported by Dr Mike Hartill from Edge Hill University and Rugby Football League’s Colette Eden.”

Sports Respects Your Rights was set up with funding from the European Union in 2013 to run for 24 months. The project has been facilitated by a number of organisations including a central coordinator (Agnes Kainz at SPORT UNIION Austria), eight coordinators of partner organisations, 44 local partners, and many young people at the grassroot-level.

Read the story of Dr Mike Hartill’s research here.

The Sport Respects Your Rights project has received financial support 10530873-european-union-logofrom the 10530873-european-union-logoDAPHNE III Programme 2011/2012 of the European Union.

The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of Edge Hill University and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Commission.