Film maker and Edge Hill University alumni, Paul Blinkhorn, from Atherton, Greater Manchester. Picture by Paul Heyes, Monday March 04, 2019.

An Edge Hill alumnus has brought domestic abuse to the forefront through the power of film in response to a surge in cases during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Since graduating from Edge Hill University in 2005 with a degree in Drama and English, Paul Blinkhorn, who lives in Atherton, has used his love for both subjects to carve out a career as a freelance film writer and producer. Through his latest project, Paul – who produced the video alongside writer Jayne Marshall and editor Paul Anderson – set out to give a voice to women suffering domestic abuse – an issue which has unfortunately been compounded by the Coronavirus crisis.

Titled ‘Hand to Hand Combat,’ the film features 45 women – made up of both professional actors and non-actors – who together highlight the hard-hitting realities of domestic abuse. The film goes on to acknowledge how one in three 16 to 59 year old women will suffer domestic abuse in their lifetime, before reaching out with a ‘you are not alone’ message as a source of comfort and support.

Since its release in the December, the video has had amassed over 1300 views with ideas in the pipeline to extend its reach and important message far and wide.

Speaking about what inspired him to make this video, Paul said: “The original monologue Jayne wrote captured my attention right from the start – it was powerful and above all else it has an incredibly hopeful message. It was also one of the winners of the Manchester Monologues Competition held by BBC Radio Manchester and the Royal Exchange in 2018. As domestic abuse is an issue close to my heart, I wanted to help make it into a film which could shine a light on the problem and reach as broad an audience as possible in the hope of raising awareness.

“People have experienced intense periods of loneliness, anxiety and fear during lockdown, but those experience domestic abuse live with those these feelings at on a daily basis regardless of the restrictions. For them home isn’t a safe place. Sadly lockdown has exasperated the situation and given the impact that restrictions have on people, making the film then felt like the right time to do it.

“I am hugely grateful to all the women who took part, which was all coordinated remotely in line with government guidance. I am also humbled by the support the video has received so far – it’s been great to see numerous domestic abuse support organisations sharing the film amongst their networks and to have organisations such as White Ribbon, a leading charity engaging with men and boys to end violence against women, embedding the film on their website.”

Commenting on why he chose to study at Edge Hill, Paul said: “The main draw to Edge Hill was the course itself. Whilst I had always wanted to be an actor, I also loved to write so my degree combined both interests – and given my chosen career as a writer and director, this proved to be a good move.

“As well as the brilliant lectures and seminars, studying at Edge Hill involved lots of independent learning, and this equipped me with skills and qualities which have been invaluable in my life as a freelancer.”

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