The “Loves Me Loves Me Not” bookmark was developed in 2009. Since then it has been distributed to thousands of young people throughout Yorkshire and beyond. The “Loves Me” side lists the qualities of a healthy relationship. On the “Loves Me Not” side the warning signs of an unhealthy relationship are listed and contact details given of where help can be obtained. The message is: “you DESERVE a healthy relationship.”
Members of SI Yorkshire have attended events at universities and colleges to chat with students and distribute the “Loves Me Loves Me Not” bookmarks. At each event there is a board display and pull up banner about making healthy relationships especially for students leaving home for the first time and wanting to make friends as quickly as possible. The displays can also be used at health education or cultural seminars. We have offered tea bags and/or chocolates as an enticement to the stand and suggest the students can consume them when chatting with each other where they live. Staff and students have been very impressed by the quality of the bookmarks and the rapport we establish so that often requests are made for our attendance at events other than the freshers’ fairs.
The “Friends” bookmark has been developed to be using language more appropriate to 6-11 year old children. Members of SI Yorkshire make contact with infant junior schools to offer the “Friends” bookmarks, one for each child, and resources for use by the teachers. A covering letter to the Head Teacher explains that recent sexual exploitation court cases have made it apparent that we need to address relationship issues with young children. The design and content follow the official guidelines on safeguarding and embrace the pupils’ moral, spiritual, social and cultural development. To help the teacher integrate the material into PHSE work the statements on the bookmarks have been copied on to cards which can be used as a classroom sorting activity. Also supplied are sheets of case studies and ideas for starting class and group discussions answering the “What if” questions. The resources are free to the schools. The only request made is that the schools give feedback as to the appropriateness, suitability and manageability of the material. So far the feedback has been very positive and requests are made for further resources.
Soroptimist members also distribute healthy relationship information and bookmarks at events in the community eg when attending awareness raising events like the UN Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. A briefing document has been produced to assist and give confidence to SI members approaching the public for the first time and engaging them in conversation. Reports and discussions about contacting children and the public take place at SI Yorkshire Regional Council Meetings. This has given members the confidence to attend events to spread the word throughout Yorkshire.
The government is committed to ensuring that all young people feel equipped to have healthy and respectful relationships so they can succeed in adult life in modern Britain. Soroptimist International agrees with this sentiment. Members in Yorkshire will continue to work towards this aim by keeping abreast of current thinking, supporting those working with young people and raising awareness of the issues with the general public.