Campaigners united to support a campaign to end violence against women.
Dozens of people, including Labour member of the European Parliament for the North West Julie Ward, World champion Salsa dancer Phil Kaila and last year’s The Voice UK hopeful Joe Keegan, gathered at Fishergate Shopping Centre for One Billion Rising event, to highlight that one in three women in the world are raped or beaten in their lifetime.
In Preston alone more than 4,000 women and girls aged between 16 and 59 have suffered from domestic violence in the past year.
The University of Central Lancashire’s Worldwise Samba Drummers and Salsa Northwest entertained campaigners as they sung and danced in harmony on Valentine’s Day. Amid the fun, there were also speeches, live acoustic music and a poem that moved the audience to focus on the seriousness of the cause.
Julie Ward MEP, who serves on the EU Culture and Education Committee, the Regional Development Committee and the Committee on Gender Equality and Women’s Rights, said: “It’s not just about dancing on one day, if all we did was dance on one day we would never change anything so dancing is when we come together to gain strength and the rest of the time we need to work together to push against all those barriers that are preventing us from progressing.
“This event here in Preston is the most organised in the North West and it’s obviously got a history. People are very committed to it, it knows how to be inclusive, how to be fun, how to bring people from different backgrounds together and give them the space that they need in a safe way.”
Phil added: “The event has improved from last year, there are more people and it is important for us to get the issue out there. As the speaker said, it is almost a billion women that are still being abused which is wrong.”