Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz lead the Islington Together Women's Walk through Highbury Fields

Islington Together Women’s Walk puts safety at top of agenda

More than 50 women took part in a symbolic walk through Islington today (Wednesday, 16 February) to highlight the importance of creating a borough where women and girls feel safe when out and about, and the work Islington Council and its partners are doing to improve things further.

The Islington Together Women’s Walk was attended by women from several organisations and individuals across the borough – including co-organiser Anita Grant, chair of Islington4Women and chief executive of Islington Play Association – to foster discussion about the schemes and programmes already working to create a more equal, supportive and safe community for women and girls.

Anita Grant said: “Islington4Women and the council organised the Islington Together Women’s Walk to send a powerful message of solidarity and empowerment to all women in the community. It is essential for women and girls to feel safe as they go about their daily lives, and vital that we have an open discussion about how we can make that a reality.”

Others who joined the walk included Josephine Holden Wilby of Solace Women’s Aid, Tanya Pinnock, co-chair of the Islington Violence Against Women and Girls Board, representatives of Forum+, Council Leader Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Executive Member for Community Safety Cllr Sue Lukes and Executive Member for Community Development Cllr Una O’Halloran, as well as Islington South & Finsbury MP Emily Thornberry.

Cllr Comer-Schwartz said: “Islington Council is focused on making our borough safer for women and girls, wherever they are. We stand with our communities and want to work with local people so they are safe, connected and inclusive. 

“The Islington Together Women’s Walk precedes this year’s International Women’s Day and follows the high-profile murders of women in London in recent years including Bibaa Henry, Nicole Smallman and Sarah Everard among others. These are all reminders of the work we all still have to do to combat inequality and tackle violence against women and girls.

“I’m very proud of the work we are doing in this area, including our ground-breaking Safer Spaces consultation with local people, our new Violence Against Women And Girls Strategy, our recent Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance accreditation, and our Safe Havens scheme.

“The walk was a chance to speak frankly and face-to-face with Islington women about what else can be done to enable everyone to feel safe while out and about, and to look at what we can do as a council to make our borough safer.”

The Women’s Walk was also a chance to visit the Union Chapel, one of the borough’s Safe Havens – businesses and community hubs that have signed up to the council’s scheme to assist anyone who is in danger, feels threatened or is harassed on the street, or is unwell or just in need of some help. The council trains those who sign-up to the Safe Havens scheme to deal with distressed people and signpost them to places and people who can help them further.

Cllr Lukes added: “We all have a part to play in looking out for each other and making Islington safer. A great example of this is the fact that we have established a growing network of Safe Havens for women and girls to turn to if they fear their safety is at risk while they are out in the community.

“More than 100 businesses and organisations have already signed up as Safe Havens – identifiable by the distinctive sticker in the window – with many more expected as it gathers momentum.

“It is great to see the community coming together and getting behind a good idea like this, and we’re always keen to discuss new ways to improve safety for all of us. No-one is safe until we are all safe.”

Safe Havens include well-known buildings like Islington Town Hall, Central Library, Highbury Leisure Centre and the Union Chapel, as well as numerous fast food outlets, newsagents, shops and restaurants, community centres, hair salons and other businesses.

The council is holding three online conversations to discuss the results of the Safer Spaces mass consultation and how we can all work together to make our borough safer. They take place on 24 February (central Islington), 1 March (north Islington) and 7 March (south Islington). For more information and to book a free place, see www.islington.gov.uk/community-safety/have-your-say-on-safer-spaces

 

Notes to editor

Islington4Women is a local women’s group set up in 2017 by Anita Grant and Suzanne Lee to make Islington a better place for all women and to create a place where women are comfortable, supported, encouraged, empowered and inspired. For more information, see www.islington4women.org

The Islington Together Women’s Walk started from Islington Assembly Hall and took in Upper Street, the Union Chapel, Highbury Corner, Highbury Fields, Fieldway Crescent, Central Library and St Mary Magdalene Church, Holloway Road.

For more information on the council’s community safety schemes and programmes, see the following links:

The council’s Let’s Talk Islington engagement programme is live now, inviting local communities and residents to talk about their experiences of Islington and how the council can improve life for everyone who lives, works and studies here. Anyone can come along to one of the online roadshow events to have their say. For more information, see www.islington.gov.uk/letstalk

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