Dodgy taxi driver? Too drunk to get home? How Leeds women are helping to improve female safety in the city

Concerns over female safety in the city are on the increase.
Concerns over female safety in the city are on the increase.
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Ever worried that you are not familiar with the route the taxi driver is taking you home? Or that the last bus with you and just one other male passenger feels very empty? Maybe the group of men checking you and your friend out in a bar unnerves you, or the bus stop for the bus home from work is badly lit?

All these are everyday issues that real women across the city worry about and they have an effect on how they go about daily life and impact how they conduct their social life.

But in a first event of its kind in Leeds, a consortium of organisations have come together with a view to urging the city’s authorities, transport providers and businesses to make simple changes which together will transform the way women go about their lives in Leeds City Centre.

Women and Girls Hub

The Leeds Women and Girls Hub, set up in 2017, to give women and girls a voice is holding a panel meeting to discuss female safety in the city.

Claire Harrison, from Leeds Women’s Aid which is one of the groups involved, said this particular panel came about as a result of a workshop where women were asked what bothered them when they were out and about.

She said: “Safety in the community, at night, on transport - that kept coming up in the room and in other conversations as well.

“We thought we need to get key decision makers together - we have done enough talking, let’s do something about it.

“We have invited a few people to attend and we don’t expect them to have the answers but to have the conversation.”

Panel Meeting

The Hub meeting is being held on Wednesday September 25, 10.30am-12.30pm at The Carriageworks in Millennium Square and women who live, work and socialise in the city are invited to take part or simply come along and listen.

Ms Harrison added: “When we first started, 100 people came to the first session. We want to build that back up and we are hoping we can get a full house. We want real people that are not afraid to ask awkward questions.”

Some of the solutions that have been proposed at previous meetings include increased lighting in remote areas, being able to request a female taxi driver, taxi and bus drivers having awareness and training in how to deal with safety issues, designated safe places in the city that women can go to on nights out and training of bar/security staff to be more supportive of women.

She said that some suggestions such as women only taxi ranks had been dismissed without trial.

Is it a big deal?

“Everyone has a story or a situation and a lot of people just dismiss it and think ‘a man shouted at me’. But if it is happening day after day, it contributes to you feeling unsafe.

“If I am on a bus by myself and a man sits next to me I feel concerned, and that is not fair on him because he is probably a nice guy, but because of my experience I think that.

“Maybe nobody else reacts and that makes you think I am making a big deal of it. But if you feel unsafe, there is no such thing as a big deal.

“We thought the taxi rank was a long shot but people are making decisions that are high up and sat around a table but they are missing a trick by not speaking to real women. We want to be the conduit and get the message across. That is the point of the panel, to get people in a room and have that conversation.”