By Flossie Palmer, Features Editor
On 24 March, Bristol Nights will be hosting the Shine A Light Parade to show solidarity with victims of harassment after a recent survey conducted by the organisation found that 100 per cent of women in Bristol had experienced some form of sexual harassment. In their new campaign, Bristol Nights aims to unite Bristol venues in an approach of zero tolerance to sexual harassment in the city and is taking steps to tackle this issue head on.
Local businesses which are part of Bristol’s night-time industry will be encouraged to take part in training to raise awareness of how to handle and prevent an incident of sexual harassment. Considering that 30 per cent of all Bristol jobs operate between 6pm to 6am in the health and social care, leisure, hospitality and cultural sectors, the demographic targeted for receiving this training is large, representing a vital force for ensuring the safety of women on Bristol’s streets.
As revealed by Bristol Nights, a recent survey found that one in six night-time venues in the city had experienced an incident of harassment. While most of these venues had a zero-tolerance approach to harassment in place, 87 per cent of venues agreed that further training is required.
Bristol Nights, in partnership with Bristol City Centre BID, aims to deliver this training to over 1000 night-time industry workers with a programme designed by Joanne Cox Brown, the High Streets Task Force Expert.
The training will entail supporting venue staff in implementing a zero-tolerance approach towards sexual harassment, as well as encouraging those who happen to witness any incidents to report it immediately. To overcome financial barriers, bursaries for low-income and freelance night-time workers will also be available to ensure that all who wish to undertake the training can do so.
Bristol City Council has also showed their support for the zero-tolerance campaign by dedicating £282,000 to improving women’s safety in Bristol following a successful bid for the Home Office’s Safety of Women at Night Fund.
Bristol businesses are also being urged to prioritise women’s safety at night by signing up to the city’s first Women’s Safety Charter, which consists of seven commitments designed to provide and enforce practical steps that night-time employers can take to protect their female employees. The charter has been developed by Bristol Nights, who have been working alongside Bristol City Council, Bristol’s Violence Against Women and Girls specialists, night-time venues and Avon and Somerset Police. It has taken inspiration from the Mayor of London’s recent commitment to ensuring women’s safety at night, which was demonstrated through an ad campaign urging bystanders to call out misogynistic behaviour.
Carly Heath, Bristol’s Night-Time Economy Advisor, stated that; ‘Improving the safety of women at night is vital, and a challenge which cannot be achieved without allies throughout the city.’
‘We know that many crimes against women at night go unreported but are widely witnessed. This campaign invites bystanders to call out bad behaviour, while empowering those working in the night-time economy to recognise and execute a zero-tolerance response to harassment in their venues and workplaces.’
Marti Burges, owner of the popular student club, Lakota, showed solidarity with the Bristol Nights campaign, agreeing that further action must be taken; ‘We take the safety of women very seriously and are constantly looking at ways in which we can spot threats, challenge unacceptable behaviour and provide a safe environment for all. Despite our efforts and those of many other venues it’s clear that we need a collective effort across sectors to tackle the rise in harassment being seen in the sector.’
The Shine A Light Parade, taking place at 6:30pm this evening, will see attendees standing in solidarity with victims of sexual harassment and pledging their support to ensuring women’s safety. Attendees are encouraged to dress in and carry lights, and torchbearers representing different venues across Bristol’s night-time industry will lead parts of the parade. The parade will end at Lloyd’s Ampitheatre, where speakers and artists will share performances, poems and stories to inspire the crowd and shine a further light on the experiences of women who have been subjected to sexual harassment.
Featured Image: Bristol City Centre BID / Shot Away
Will you be attending the Shine A Light parade this evening?