Exeter students set up walking group to promote women’s safety in the city
‘It is ridiculous that women have to fear for their safety when walking alone and that many of the actions we have to take become the norm for us’
Following the recent tragic news of Sarah Everard’s murder and the two sexual assaults which have taken place on campus this month, there have been many protests and pushes to improve women’s safety around the country and on campus. Two Exeter uni students have gone the extra mile to create an online community which promoting women’s safety around the city as “we are stronger and safer together.”
Urban Angels Exeter was founded about a month ago by Exeter grad Talisker Alcobia Cornford, 21. With over 1,500 members already, it was the first community to launch, and since then similar groups have been set up in Birmingham, Cardiff, Portsmouth and Brighton. Talisker said: “The aim of Urban Angels is to provide a space for women to share alerts of anything potentially dangerous they experience in Exeter, a space for women to share their experiences and seek solidarity and support, and a place to share ideas, tips and set up initiatives that make the city safer for us.” The community is building a strong support network for women, to support other women.
In light of Sarah Everard’s murder and the statistic that 97% of young women have experienced a form of sexual harassment from men, women around the country have been reminded of how unsafe it can be to walk alone. Talisker told the Exeter Tab: “My idea for the group came from the desire to make UK cities safer for women. I feel immensely passionate about women’s safety, it is ridiculous that women have to fear for their safety when walking alone and that many of the actions we have to take become the norm for us.”
While Urban Angels had been planning on setting up a ‘walk-together’ scheme, Stroll Mates was created by third year Exeter student Islay Morgan, 22, who reached out with her developed scheme and volunteers. With over 560 members, it has become a sub-group of Urban Angels. Islay told the Exeter Tab: “The main aim of Stroll Mates is to prevent women from having no choice but to walk alone in the city. By preventing women from having to walk home alone, we hope to drastically reduce the risk of them being followed or harmed.”
The scheme will work by setting up a weekly rota of volunteer pairs and trios who are available to walk anyone, male or female, home after pre-drinks, from the library or, in the future, a night out.
Islay said: “Volunteers will work in pairs or trios and will consist of either one boy and one girl or two girls or more. Each volunteer will be required to carry around an ID card and a volunteer card.” The person will also receive a photo and short description of the volunteers, in order to feel safe to use the scheme. Speaking about the future, Islay added: “We would love all volunteers to have alarms and branded merchandise, so that they are easily recognisable.”
Talisker and Islay are hoping to kickstart this initiative after the Easter holidays when students return to Exeter, and are using the break to ensure Stroll Mates is as safe as it can be.
In the long term, the Exeter students are hoping to set up a city-wide initiative of ‘Ask for an Angel.’ This phrase will be taught to staff members of restaurants, bars and supermarkets across the city so that members of the public can use this phrase to signify that they do not feel safe and can easily access help.
As a final comment, Talisker and Islay told the Exeter Tab: “We’d love to have every single woman, girl and all those who identify, join our community. So keep inviting your friends, keep sharing your experiences and come and join us in making Exeter a safer place for everyone!”
Join the Urban Angels Facebook group here
Join Stroll Mates here
Go to Exeter Speak Out for additional support
graphics from The Urban Angels Instagram
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