Leeds security firm Gough and Kelly is supporting a pilot scheme to promote women’s safety at night in the city centre.
The Women’s Night Safe Space pilot, a joint initiative between Women’s Lives Leeds and Safer Leeds, will run from 9pm until 2.15am on three consecutive weekends in March. Starting on Friday, March 4, the city centre scheme will provide a community bus on Dortmund Square, with a team of workers and volunteers on hand to provide a non-judgemental, safe space for women to seek refuge, support, and advice if they feel concerned, unsafe, unwell, or vulnerable.
The bus will offer a friendly face and facilities including mobile phone charging facilities; water, refreshments, and warm drinks; support calling a taxi; somewhere to talk through concerns and be signposted for further support; a safe place to report incidents to the police and wait for further assistance; or simply somewhere warm where women can wait for friends, so they are not alone.
A female security officer from Gough and Kelly will be on hand for the duration of the pilot to ensure the safety and wellbeing of people accessing the safe space and the staff and volunteers delivering it. West Yorkshire Police will also be available if needed to respond to incidents reported by people who access the project.
Emily Turner, Women’s Lives Leeds project manager, has led the organisation of the Women’s Night Safe Space pilot. She sais: “The Leeds Women’s Safety survey in May 2021 surveyed over 1,300 women of all ages, from all parts of the city.
“Fifty per cent of the women we surveyed told us they often or always felt unsafe in the city centre at night. This pilot addresses the important issue of women feeling safe, as well as being safe, giving them a non-judgemental safe space to support their needs, be it make a report to the police, or simply a space to wait for friends if they become separated and worried.
“The main priorities that emerged from the survey were the need to tackle the attitudes and behaviour which underpin violence against women and girls; to make city environments safer; to increase reporting and improve responses.
“This pilot is a starting point, but no single organisation can achieve change on their own. We need a whole societal approach to raise the profile and awareness of the issue of safety for women and girls. We need to give all citizens the tools to take action and give a clear message that Leeds takes a zero-tolerance approach.”
Ian Crawford, Gough and Kelly operations director, said: “We are very happy to support the pilot scheme and work alongside Women’s Lives Leeds to help ensure the safety of women in the city. We will be encouraging everyone in our team and wider networks to help raise awareness of the safe space and make sure women know that support is available should they need it.”