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Safer Salisbury – Schools’ Forum

One of the outcomes of last October’s Safer Salisbury Conference, organised by Salisbury Soroptimists, was the suggestion that a Schools’ Forum should take place. This would give young people a chance to voice their opinions and take action in their own schools to promote zero tolerance of unacceptable behaviour towards women and girls. Godolphin School volunteered to be the host of this initial conference and eight schools were represented with one apology.

This Forum was to present to those schools unable to attend the last conference, our idea that action could be taken within Salisbury to improve safety by working with young people. This Forum introduced some of the organisations working towards our goal; including the night time economy, CCTV, Wiltshire Police, the Street Pastors, Stars, Alibare and Everyone’s Invited. Ultimately we want to encourage young people to engage and mentor each other as well as sharing their ideas.

Prepare for a night out

Participants were reminded to take their own safety in their hands by preparing for a night out: eat something substantial, charge your phone, plan how you will get home, stick with your friends, look out for your friends and drink plenty of water in between alcoholic drinks. Also know who to turn to if you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation: talk to bar staff or door staff at the venue, use ‘Ask for Angela‘, call for a taxi to take your friends and yourself home, talk to community police officers or Street Pastors.

It was pointed out that, because of the pandemic, a whole cohort of young people have missed out on a couple of years of supervised parties and going out which would normally happen post-GCSEs and before leaving for university. They have not had the chance to experience the night economy or drinking alcohol to learn how it affects them or how to handle themselves.

It is vital that more publicity is given to sources of help and advice.

Daytime safety

However it is not all about nights out. Anyone can feel unsafe or intimidated during the day if they are subjected to unwanted or inappropriate attention. There is a scheme called Safe Places which anyone can use; look for the sticker in a shop, restaurant or pub window. These are places where anyone can ask for help or just a moment to sit and collect yourself. Make everyone you know aware of this!

Next steps

Soroptimists Salisbury asked everyone to consider how they could contribute to an event to be held at the Guildhall on 1st October on the topic of Safer Salisbury. We are hoping that young people, in particular, will take part and suggest how they think Salisbury could be a safer city.