To mark International Women’s Day 2018, five inspirational young female volunteers from our Women Against Sexual exploitation and violence Speak UP (WASSUP) project featured on BBC Radio Suffolk interviewing Jess Phillips MP for Birmingham Yardley about the issues that matter to them.

Since 2012, WASSUP has been supporting young women at risk of abuse by campaigning, raising awareness and sign posting to safety. The group told Jess Phillips about how the youth social action programme, which is led by young women campaigning for change, has been raising awareness of the early warning signs of exploitation in schools across the country, with 200 hours of volunteering carried out each month.

During the interview, the young women identified four main topics of discussion – self harm, domestic abuse, bullying via social media, and gangs. Their open and honest approach made for some powerful discussion and they shared some of the spoken word verses that make up part of the toolkit they deliver in schools.

When asked what she thinks needs to be done to make pathways clearer for people who have suffered abuse, Jess Phillips responded: “Every woman I have ever interviewed about domestic abuse always begs and pleads for services for their children. It is always women’s number one concern – the effect it is having on their children.”

She felt that a support service for young people to access should be available in every area, with compulsory awareness raising in schools so that children know how to access these pathways.

To hear more from this powerful discussion on International Women’s Day, listen to BBC Radio Suffolk here, starting at 9 minutes and 50 seconds into the programme.

We’re so grateful to Jess Phillips for taking the time to speak with WASSUP and to the BBC for highlighting the amazing work that young women are delivering as part of WASSUP.

Find out more about WASSUP