LAUNCHING a school forum, adapting the taxi system and creating a 24-hour safe space were just some suggestions put forward to improve women's safety in Salisbury.

On Thursday, November 18, residents from in and around the city came together to discuss the safety of young girls and women, and what more can be done to make Salisbury a "zero-tolerance city".

The conference 'Feeling Safe in Salisbury' was inspired by the outpouring of concerns for women and their safety, both nationally and locally, following the tragic murder of Sarah Everard back in March.

Since then, Soroptimist International of Salisbury and Safer and Supportive Salisbury have been busy putting together this event, held at The Chapel Nightclub, in a bid to engage with Salisbury organisations and residents to uncover concerns, ideas and solutions.

'Feeling Safe in Salisbury'

As part of the day-long event, three workshops were held focussing on different areas of women's safety - changing attitudes, providing better support and the nighttime economy.

As well as learning about support services and initiatives already available in the city, Dame Vera Baird, victims' commissioner for England and Wales, was a special guest speaker.

Throughout the feedback section of the conference, the theme of 'more conversation' was raised regularly, which would provide residents with the chance to learn how to challenge inappropriate behaviours and create a culture of safety.

Feeling Safe in Salisbury: Night time economy workshop - Picture by Spencer Mulholland

'Feeling Safe in Salisbury': Nighttime economy workshop - Picture by Spencer Mulholland

Education, taxis and a 'safe space'

Other ideas put forward to improve women's safety included launching a school forum and peer support groups, meaning pupils could learn from an early age the importance of safety and appropriate attitudes towards women.

Verifying taxi drivers through clear accreditation, a 24-hour 'safe space', forming a task force to educate and engage with the community, and generating an 'information hub' and more promotional materials, so residents can learn what resources and measures are available, were other suggestions, but these would need more time and planning to achieve.

By the end of the conference there was a clear message that residents want Salisbury to be "a zero-tolerance city" - a phrase used by several speakers throughout the afternoon, including the victims' commissioner.

Feeling Safe in Salisbury: White Ribbon UK founder Chris Green - Picture by Spencer Mulholland

'Feeling Safe in Salisbury': White Ribbon UK founder Chris Green - Picture by Spencer Mulholland

'Keeping that momentum going'

Speaking to the Journal after the conference, Salisbury Soroptimist Liz Batten, one of the organisers, said she was "pleased with the amount of engagement from every single person".

With around 90 people attending, both men and women, she said: "Everybody participated and stayed until the end, there was a real community and togetherness feel.

"The football club, the hospital, big organisations, so many different representatives were ready to say 'we're going to do something', which is exactly what we wanted. Now we have a lot of work to do."

The organisers are currently going through feedback from the conference, to put some of the suggestions into action and form steering groups.

"In doing all of this, the nighttime economy will become more attractive to locals," Liz added.

"So much was spoken about, now it's a case of keeping that momentum going."

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