Women’s quilt on display at Co-op Congress to remember victims of domestic violence

The project is a memorial to the 598 women killed by their partners or ex-partners between 2009 and 2015

A patchwork quilt commemorating the lives of 598 women in England and Wales killed by their partners or ex-partners was on display at the 2017 Co-operative Congress in Wakefield.

The project was started by Roxanne Ellis, a Labour/Co-op councillor, after she read the Femicide Census, which records the names of all the women killed by their partners or ex-partners between 2009 and 2015.

Ms Ellis felt the number on paper could not be ignored and wanted to create a more visual representation. After suggesting on Facebook that a quilt would be appropriate, she received messages from people from all over the world, asking to take part. They chose names from the list and sent patches to be added to the quilt.

While some of those asking be involved had the skills required to design the patches, other learned to sew just so they could contribute. The quilt is made up of 598 patches, each symbolising the life of a woman. Through a crowdfunding page, the group was able to raise money to buy the materials needed to finish the quilt.

As well as raising the awareness of domestic violence, the quilt – unveiled at Westminster hall on International Women’s Day – is being used to raise money for local charities whenever it is on display.

Roxanne Ellis, with Elaine Dean (chair of Co-op Press and president of Central England Co-operative), who suggested the quilt should be displayed at Congress

With two women murdered each week by their partners in England and Wales, the project aims to change the way cases are represented in the national media.

“We want the media to talk about her potential, she had no choice in being killed,” said Cllr Ellis, who wants children to be taught about healthy relationships in schools.

“We need to start young because that’s when ideas of control and power get put into people’s heads,” she added.

The group is now looking at setting up a community interest company to take the initiative forward. As part of this, they want to create small toys and blankets for refugee children to play with.

“We would like to give them something that belongs to them,” she added.

Mr Ellis added that the co-op movement could help by sharing knowledge and expertise and help to promote the project by having the quilt displayed at various events. Donations to the project can be made here.

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