An Incredible Day at the 'Press Red' Event
Our ‘Press Red’ event on October 5th at Christ Church Clifton, Bristol, was, I believe it is fair to say, an incredible event. It was a day of passion and compassion, information and revelation, transformation and commitment. As one contributor wrote in an email to me ‘I was just thrilled and honoured to be part of the event. I felt reaffirmed in what I’m doing for abused women’.
‘Press Red’ is a Manchester-based charity who seek to address the worldwide issues of violence and abuse against women and girls. Their rallying cry is ‘speak, hear, press red, turn the silence off!' On October 5th we were particularly focusing on two areas of injustice, sex trafficking and domestic violence.
We had some excellent speakers including our Mayor Marvin Rees who, in his humility and motivation for the theme roused the attention of many. Dr Clare Fleming, known to the vulnerable in Bristol, inspired us to consider moving our thinking and behaviour from head to heart; and, Penny Gray from the charity ‘Hope for Justice’ (who exist to bring an end to modern slavery) spoke of her involvement in setting up an abolition group in her local area.
I appreciate I am biased in my conviction of the efficacy of the creative arts, however, many were quite stunned by the professionalism, impact, personal cost and sheer brilliance of the arts input during the day. The drama, dance, physical theatre, visual art installation and exhibition, hit individuals in the ‘gut’ as only the arts can, activating the emotions and bringing transformation. Three men spoke to me, days and weeks later, of still digesting the drama presentation and physical theatre solo piece. One of the questions in a Press
Red survey following the conference and concert in the evening was :- ‘Did the event help you to know what to do next to make a difference?’ 65.38% said yes. Our prayer and a primary objective was towards action - we were thrilled with this response.
The concert in the evening had a different genre; four celebrated female singer songwriters from around the UK, including headline act Beth Rowley, brought many of their own songs to the stage, reflecting on the themes of the conference, highlighting the cause of the many charities we were promoting. An intimate setting, this gig was unmissable. This was sisterhood in action!
I would like to pay tribute to the charity representatives who contributed; to see all twelve of them sitting up on the stage during a question and answer session, reflecting the
enormity of work that is going on at grassroots level, is a mental image I will always remember. These folk are our role models.
This ancient stain on our humanity, gender based abuse, is a justice issue that is worth our continued attention. There is a long way to go, and, we hope our efforts brought some fruit that will last. We would love to feel that we are a small piece of a jigsaw that is continually evolving, that the ripples in the pool will provoke others. One Bristol University student approached me at a city gathering discussing modern slavery, I had not met her before, she said, ‘I heard you talking about ‘Press Red’. I wasn’t there but I was told it was fantastic. Everyone at Uni is talking about it!’
Yes, let’s keep going...
‘turn the silence off’
Rev Erica Bebb
Associate Minister Christ Church Clifton Pastor for the Arts Christ Church Clifton and Bristol Diocese