By Lizzie Whewell
Women’s group SHEnanigans Armley are working with local organisations to deliver a series of projects aimed specifically at increasing the safety of women and girls in the community.
Across LS12, indeed the whole of Leeds, every woman and girl should feel safe but sadly that isn’t always the case and that’s why the pilot SHE Safe has been launched locally.
SHEnanigans recently held a self-defence class for members and it was one of the most popular events held in their two year history for a very simple reason – such safety initiatives are needed.
Jo, a member said of the event, said “I’ve lived in Armley for over 20 years and I love this community – but whether I’m here or elsewhere, I’m always conscious of my safety. It’s something that you regrettably become all too aware of. Walking down the street; ‘cat calls’; inappropriate ‘banter’ that instantly puts you on edge because at the back of your mind, you can’t help think ‘what if’…
“It’s a scary place to be and this pilot project will definitely help me and others feel more protected.”
SHE Safe intends to work in partnership with existing and new projects and bring them to the women and girls in our area.
Lizzie from SHEnanigans said: “We held a focus group and every woman (and I mean every woman) said that they didn’t feel safe. Not just in Armley, but in general. And so, do we wait until something tragically happens or do we do something?
“That’s when the conversations really started and now, thanks to an amazing group of volunteers and professional guidance, we’re launching SHE Safe as a sister project to our main SHEnanigans Armley group.
“With over 750 members made up of women or anyone who identifies as a woman in LS12, we desperately want them and non-members to access free projects that gives them access to becoming better informed and ultimately becoming far safer than they may feel now.
“Over the coming months, the SHE Safe team will be embedding the Ask for Angela campaign and raising awareness of the Walk Safe application.
“If you see the SHE Safe sticker, you can be assured that the team have received the training needed to embed these projects and the venues have committed to playing their part in supporting this initiative. If you’re a venue that is interested, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and one of the team will contact you.”
‘Ask for Angela’ is for people (men included) who feel unsafe, vulnerable or threatened. They can discreetly seek help by approaching venue staff and asking them for ‘Angela’ and this will indicate to staff that they require help with their situation and a trained member of staff will then look to support and assist them.
This might be through reuniting them with a friend, seeing them to a taxi, or by calling venue security and/or the police. SHE Safe volunteers have received the training and will be rolling out this preventative project soon with local venues.
The Walk Safe app is a free personal safety app to download here. It offers a range of features to help people feel safe throughout the day and night. The plan is to deliver more free information sessions via the Armley Action team, SHEnanigans and New Wortley Community Centre.
It is available to everyone as a way of route planning, alerting friends as to your current location, as well as where the nearest help and support is located if it is needed.
The app also includes information on local support and help available if needed, such as the locations of ‘Ask for Angela’ venues in Leeds, of which there are now more than 600 across the city. These locations can also be seen at the online map at Ask for Angela – Women Friendly Leeds.
SHEnanigans are looking at funding for further self-defence classes and interactive awareness sessions too. Keep an eye on the main SHEnanigans Armley Facebook site and Armley Good Stuff for more information.