Cumbrian rugby league teams encouraged to ‘call out’ violence against women and girls



Rugby League teams across Cumbria are being encouraged to take part in a social media competition to raise awareness of violence against women and girls (VAWG).

The competition was developed by local charity Cumbria Family Support, who support families with children through difficult times, and funded by the Office of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (OPFCC) through the Property Fund.  The competition is being supported by Cumbria Police.

League Teams will be encouraged this season to post a picture online of their players standing shoulder-to-shoulder and state they are calling out violence against women and girls. They should also use the hashtag #CallItOutCumbria.


‘Call it out’ is the title of Cumbria Police’s ongoing campaign and initiative to raise awareness of the issue of violence against women and girls. Partners are aiming to harness the positive power and appeal of the sport at all levels to get across this vital message in a social media competition to raise awareness of the issue.


The winning team will receive a new kit, funded by the OPFCC’s Property Fund, for the following season with the slogan branded it on it. The idea is they will carry the message to the wider sporting world and public as they play.


The competition was launched and is being supported by Cumbria’s Deputy Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (DPFCC), Mike Johnson, Deb Royston from Cumbria Family Support,  Cumbria Constabulary, and representatives from the Rugby Football League, Barrow Raiders RLFC, Workington Town RLFC and Whitehaven RLFC at Workington Town RLFC’s rugby pitch on Wednesday 19 July.


Cumbria’s Deputy Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, Mike Johnson, said: ““Violence against anyone is unacceptable but women and girls are overwhelmingly more likely to have to deal with some form of abuse at the hands of men – whether it is physical or not.


“This competition is a great opportunity for rugby league teams to get involved in the support of women and girls and use their platforms to call out their male fans, friends and family members who may be acting inappropriately with women that, if not stopped, could lead to violence.


“As men, we can have a lot of influence of our peers and highlighting when a friend, family member or even a stranger is acting inappropriately or in an intimidating manner towards women may have more impact that we think.


“I would wholly encourage every rugby league team to take part in this competition – not only will you be speaking out against violence against women and girls but the winner will also receive a new team kit paid for by the OPFCC’s Property Fund.”


Deb Royston, Chief Officer of Cumbria Family Support, said: “Cumbria Family Support is proud to be a partner in the “Call it out Campaign”.


“We see day in day out the lifelong negative effects for Women and Girls who have experienced such violence.


“It is not acceptable and we stand shoulder to shoulder with Cumbria Constabulary and all our partners who work tirelessly to support those affected as well as bring perpetrators to justice.”



Detective Inspector Matt Belshaw is the constabulary’s dedicated operational violence against women and girls’ detective inspector.


He said: “This is an incredibly important issue and one which is always treated seriously by Cumbria Constabulary and our partners.


“To have the Rugby Football League, local clubs and our partners working alongside us and standing shoulder-to-shoulder with us to further raise awareness is fantastic – and we are hoping the positive power of sport will prove a big factor in this ongoing campaign.”


Sergeant Scott Adams, who is organising the competition alongside partners, said: “It’s incredible to have their support for this campaign and competition.


“Their work is a positive factor in the lives of thousands of people and is a key part of the fabric of our vibrant sporting culture in Cumbria.


“With the fans, players and officials of rugby league behind us, we really feel we have the backing to push this message even further.”


RFL Safeguarding Manager, Kerry Simmons, says: “We are passionate about safeguarding at the RFL, and want women and girls to feel safe in our sport.


“I am delighted to be able to support such an important campaign – one that aims to challenge attitudes and change the kinds of behaviours that women and girls should never have to put up with.


“I am pleased too that Rugby League clubs in Cumbria are also backing this campaign. They are very much at the heart of their local communities and are therefore well placed to make a positive social impact.


“Any concerns within Rugby League can be reported via


Steve Neale, Chairman of Barrow Raiders RLFC, said: “Barrow Raiders are delighted to be able to support the “Call it Out” initiative. Barrow Raiders are committed to providing playing opportunities and enhanced life experiences for all females and together with our other teams we are keen to send a message to help prevent violence against women and girls.”


Gary Murdock, Director of Workington Town RLFC, said: As a club we are fully behind the ‘Call it Out’ campaign.


“We have our men’s rugby league team and both ladies’ football and rugby league teams playing out of the Fibrus Community Stadium.


“We want to use that platform to say that violence against women and girls is unacceptable and has no place in society.


“We stand shoulder to shoulder with Cumbria Constabulary and our partners and will always do so.”


For more information about violence against women and girls visit Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) – Cumbria Police and Crime Commissioner (


About the competition


To enter the competition, simply post a picture of your team standing shoulder-to-shoulder on Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #CallitOutCumbria with a sentence on why you stand against violence against women and girls and tag Cumbria Police and Crime Commissioner or Cumbria Police in your post.


The winning team will then be chosen by Mike Johnson, Matt Belshaw, and Deb Royston.


What is VAWG?

The term Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) refers to acts of violence or abuse that we know disproportionately affect women and girls.

Crimes and behaviour covered by this term include rape and other sexual offences, domestic abuse, stalking, ‘honour’-based abuse – as well as many others, including offences committed online.

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