Press Release

14 February 2023

Make it Mandatory and Refuge send Valentine’s Day message to No. 10, hand in 90k petition signatures

Make it Mandatory and Refuge, England’s largest specialist domestic abuse service provider, have today delivered more than 90,000 petition signatures to Number 10 Downing Street.

Campaign founder and domestic abuse survivor Faustine Petron and other member of the campaign were joined by Refuge’s CEO Ruth Davison at the hand in. The petition calls on the government to make education about domestic abuse and coercive and controlling behaviour mandatory for all young people aged 16-19.

The campaigners also posed for photos with a giant Valentine’s Day card outside the Houses of Parliament. A card with a thorned rose wrapped in barbed wire featured a message directed at Secretary of State for Education Gillian Keegan, calling for her to take steps to include domestic abuse in the RSE curriculum where it is currently lacking.

Polling conducted by Opinium for Refuge last year found that only half (50%) of young people had received education on domestic abuse and controlling or coercive behaviour during years 7 – 11 of secondary school, despite this being mandatory since 2020. The number of 16-19 year olds who said they had received or were due to receive this education at their sixth form or further education college fell to less than half (47%).

Refuge has today launched a direct to target email campaign to the Secretary of State, urging her to meet with Make it Mandatory and close the current gaps in RSE education. The Make it Mandatory campaign has gained cross-party support for an Early Day Motion, and continues to engage Parliamentarians and influential bodies such as Ofsted.


Faustine Petron, Founder of Make it Mandatory, said:

“As a survivor myself, I know having education in my late teens would have helped me to know that what I was experiencing from my partner was not okay and feel able to reach out for support.

“I’ve been so heartened to see the response to the campaign, and will continue working alongside the rest of the team to ensure that young people are given the education they deserve.

“I hope that the government will listen to the tens of thousands of people who are demanding change alongside me and make domestic abuse education mandatory for all.”


Ruth Davison, CEO of Refuge, said:

“Prevention and education are vital to Refuge’s mission to end domestic abuse, so I’ve been so pleased to support the activists leading the Make it Mandatory campaign.

“With 51% of young people experiencing behaviours that could be coercive or controlling, there must be intervention which supports and empowers them to know what a healthy relationship looks like.

“I urge the Secretary of State to meet with us and open up a discussion about how the government can help ensure this vital education is delivered in every school and college.”


Saffron Hocking, actor and Refuge Ambassador, said:

“I’m so glad to be supporting the Make it Mandatory campaign as it hits this milestone.

“So many young people resonated with Lauryn’s storyline on Top Boy, which drove home to me just how important is that they’re taught the red flags to look out for in relationships, so they don’t have to experience what she did.”