Celebrating International Women’s Day at No.10

BOLDtext member Tim Stimpson writes about his recent visit to Downing Street.

It’s funny how things happen. I was squeezed into the crowded top deck of the No.50 bus on my way back home from Birmingham city centre when an email appeared in my inbox. I had been invited to a reception at No.10 to celebrate International Women’s Day. Things got even stranger when I received another email saying that the Prime Minister would like to meet me! This was of course all a result of the Helen and Rob domestic abuse storyline in The Archers.

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A week later I was queuing up outside the gates to Downing Street with Louiza Patikas (AKA Helen Archer), Alison Hindell (Head of BBC Radio Drama) and Kim Greengrass (Archers producer), along with what must have been a hundred other people working across the various sectors supporting women’s rights. In these circumstance I always feel a bit of a fraud. Ultimately I’m in the business of entertainment, while most of the other guests were helping real people in the real world. However, when Louiza and I were ushered into the ‘White Room’ we were able to tell Theresa May and the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, about the impact the story had made. In particular I mentioned a barrister I’d been told about who changed his approach to psychological abuse cases having listened to the show. So I suppose we do have an effect on real people in the real world.

The main point of the reception was to launch the government’s domestic abuse bill, which aims to introduce new powers to protect victims. I hope it succeeds. Whatever your politics though, it did strike me standing in a room full of mainly women, speaking to a female Prime Minister and a female Home Secretary that although we still have a long way to go, we’ve come a long way too.

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