Students take part in project to help young people recognise abusive relationships

Students take part in project to help young people recognise abusive relationships

Tender workshop
Pupils act out their roles as a part of the Tender programme © Tender

NSPCC research found that 25% of females and 18% of males between the ages of 13 and 17 had reported some form of physical violence from an intimate partner. But it’s not just physical violence which is affecting young people today:

  • Half of all young people reported experiencing emotional abuse within a relationship most often being shouted at and/or called names
  • One-third of adolescent girls and one-quarter of boys reported experiencing sexual violence through pressure or physical force
  • As many as 70% of young people reported experiencing abuse such as controlling behaviour and surveillance through social media sites

The Sociology Department at LJMU are hoping to help prevent abusive behaviour among young people by working alongside the Tender National Partnership programme. Working with schools across Greater Merseyside, the programme is helping pupils recognise and avoid abusive relationships by challenging attitudes which tolerate, condone and normalise violence.

Students from across a number of disciplines at LJMU have been involved in delivering drama-based workshops to pupils. The workshops not only help the young people recognise signs of abuse but also provide the skills to safeguard against unhealthy relationships and at the same time build a supportive community within the school. Pupils taking part share what they have learned by putting on a performance to their peers at the end of the project. By playing a character or watching a performance, young people can decide for themselves what is appropriate behaviour in a relationship instead of being told what to do or think.

Follow up with pupils has shown that the programme is getting through to the young people. Those who took part were better able to identify the different categories of abuse and define harmful practices, they understood where to go for support and had increased their confidence levels.

“I’ve learned who to go to, how to help others, what to say and do and look out for early warning signs. I’ve learned to confidently say, ‘I just don’t want to be with you anymore’." – female pupil, age 14.


Student, Julie Blaney (left) and Tender project lead at LJMU, Janette Porter (right) with pupils of Belvedere Academy who took part in Tender.

Not only have pupils and school staff benefited by taking part in the Tender programme, but by engaging in the project through work-based learning and internships, LJMU students are gaining invaluable experience to help increase their employability and are contributing to an initiative which positively impacts the lives and futures of young people.

Here’s what some of our students had to say about taking part in the programme:

“Working as an intern on Tender has massively impacted my personal and academic life. It has made me feel ultimately more confident in my abilities in assisting workshops in schools, working with young people and being able to confidently talk about a difficult topic in a school setting. It gave me a huge sense of involvement in shaping the futures of the young people we worked with. I would recommend getting involved in the project to anyone that firstly cares deeply about young people’s welfare and that feels they would benefit from an extremely emotionally fulfilling experience.” – Annie Cogan Thomas, Sociology student.

“I feel very lucky to have been chosen to work on the Tender project which in itself is an amazing cause which really impacts the children who participate. I was passionate and proud to be contributing to not only a good cause but a cause of which the results and positive impact are undeniable.” – Sara Kenny, Digital Media Content Manager for Children in Crossfire, studied Zoology and was an intern with Tender.

“Working with Tender enabled me to develop my work with young people…it has led me to the next step of my career in which I am undertaking training as an Independent Mental Health Advocate, so I can further work in the community and provide practical support for those who need a voice.” – Julie Blaney, studied English and currently works as a Reader Leader with the Reader Organisation.

"Tender played a massive role in my work ethic and also helped me gain the work experience that I lacked. It gave me experience in the workplace and a better understanding of what would be expected of me by a well-established organisation." – Alex Damigos, currently working for the National Crime Agency, studied Criminology and Psychology and took part in the Tender internship.

If you’re interested in taking part in initiatives like Tender, where you can make a positive impact in the community, you might consider pursuing Sociology.

For more information or to find out how to work with us as a student or a school please contact Janette Porter.
Read a blog written by Janette Porter and Kay Standing on gaslighting behaviours on Love Island.


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