Women’s safety is being prioritised by local businesses in a new committee and open forum

The Women’s Safety Network will discuss how to protect and prevent abuse towards women at night, looking beyond just bars and clubs

A pavement with houses on the left and cars on the right at night with light coming from street lamps
The sun is setting before 4:30pm in Cardiff and dark streets make many women feel unsafe

As the winter days bring early evenings, local businesses have joined together this month to set up a network to tackle women’s concerns for their safety at night. 

FOR Cardiff, the city’s Business Improvement District, launched the Women’s Safety Network on 11 November at the Jury’s Inn

The network consists of an invite-only committee with representatives from sectors from across the city, such as education, transport, and Cardiff council. 

Carolyn Brownwell is the interim chair of the Women’s Safety Network. She said they want to: “Bring together women from all walks of life to make sure our voices are heard and acted upon.”

As a result, they will include experts from the LGBTQ+ community, and black, Asian and minority ethnic groups to hear different experiences from across the city. 

An online forum is available to all genders to raise concerns about the issues they are facing, and the network endeavours to create an action plan based on the submissions. 

Amy Lamé, the Night Czar for London, was a guest speaker at the launch. She shared that only 4.3 percent of night crime is alcohol-related in London, according to research from the London at Night report in 2018. 

Spiking is a prominent issue in Cardiff, but Amy emphasised that bars, pubs and clubs are not the only places that pose a risk to women’s safety. The new network is expected to take the approach of looking beyond these venues to protect women. 

Cardiff was recently declared one of the least safe cities in the UK according to a survey by OnePoll, but Carolyn believes the network will be a “key stakeholder” in managing safety at night.

Prior to this network, online groups such as Urban Angels were set up to share safety tips with women and non-binary people. Jemma Barker is one of the admins of the Facebook page and she believes creating a community is important:  “We’re safer if we stick together.”

Four tips to protect yourself when walking alone at night
  1. Take well-lit main roads as much as possible
  2. Tell someone of your whereabouts, even better if you can phone them while you walk
  3. Don’t wear headphones or be distracted by looking down at your phone; staying alert is important
  4. Hold your keys (or something sharp) in your hand, in case of an attack