29/11/2023

New Women's Night Safety Charter Launches Across NI

Hospitality Ulster has announced a new partnership with White Ribbon NI to launch and support the rollout of a new Women's Night Safety Charter across Northern Ireland, in support of the campaign to End Violence Against Women and Girls.

The Charter, created by London Night Czar Amy Lamé, and now operating across many parts of the UK, is applicable to everyone involved in the evening economy in Northern Ireland, with organisations and businesses pledging to:

• Nominate a champion in their organisation / business who actively promotes women's night safety.

• Demonstrate to staff and customers that their organisation takes women's safety at night seriously, for example through a communications campaign.

• Remind customers and staff that Northern Ireland is safe but tell them what to do if they experience harassment when working, going out or travelling.

• Encourage reporting by victims and bystanders as part of communications campaigns.

• Train staff to ensure that all women who report are believed.

• Train staff to ensure that all reports are recorded and responded to.

• Design public spaces and workplaces to make them safer for women at night.

Hospitality Ulster has already engaged key public sector stakeholders in the evening economy, with several Local Authorities including Antrim & Newtownabbey Borough Council, Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, Mid Ulster District Council and Newry Mourne & Down District Council plus Translink and Tourism NI having already signed the Charter.

The organisation is now calling on all hospitality businesses to sign up to the Charter which is supported by a bespoke training package developed by White Ribbon NI to assist organisations in successfully implementing its pledges. Organisations can avail of the 'Listen, Learn, Lead' toolkit which provides information, resources, and guidance on potential actions to create safer environments for women across all venues and workplaces.

As part of The Executive Office's Ending Violence Against Women & Girls Foundational Action Plan, Hospitality Ulster have partnered with The Executive Office, Police Service of Northern Ireland, SIA, Youth Work Alliance, Health and Social Care Northern Ireland, Department of Justice, SOLACE, Translink, Tourism NI and the Safeguarding Board for Northern Ireland to establish a Safer Socialising Steering Group, which will coordinate a range of NI-wide initiatives, including the rollout and oversight of the Woman's Night Safe Charter.

For further information, and to sign up to the Women's Night Safety Charter, visit hospitalityulster.org and click on Support and Safer Socialising.
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Joel Neill, Operations Director, Hospitality Ulster, said: "We all know that for the most part, Northern Ireland is a very safe place to live, work and play. However, too many women when travelling, working, or going out at night feel unsafe. This is why, through the Women's Night Safety Charter, we are taking steps to prioritise and ensure the safety of women and girls. There is a long way to go, but the Charter is a significant step in ensuring women feel protected when they are walking home from work, enjoying a night out in our great pubs, bars, and restaurants, or indeed working in them.

"At Hospitality Ulster, we envision a Northern Ireland in which women and girls are free from violence, and the threat of it. This should mean women heading out for the night knowing they are going to have a great time and get home safe. Signing up to the NI Women's Night Safety Charter and implementing its seven pledges is an important first step to make this vision a reality."

Tahnee McCorry, Founder and Chief Executive, White Ribbon NI, added: "Violence against women in all its forms is completely unacceptable. Workplaces, hospitality venues and all night-time economy businesses have a huge role to play in challenging behaviour, attitudes, raising awareness and ultimately guaranteeing that women feel safe and protected.

"Along with the Charter, our 'Listen, Learn, Lead' toolkit also gives businesses some tangible actions to implement, helping venues to become a safer place for women whether that is through staff training or a communications campaign."

Superintendent Gillian Kearney from the Police Service of Northern Ireland said: "As part of our commitment to Tackling Violence against Women and Girls, we are proud to be a supporting partner for the rollout of the first Northern Ireland wide Women's Night Safety Charter.

"It demonstrates a collective commitment to create safe spaces for everyone to enjoy a night out, especially with the festive and party season almost upon us. The rollout of the charter is a significant step forward to achieving this, especially for women and girls in Northern Ireland.

"Our officers will be supporting this with increased patrols in and around high footfall night-time economy spaces. We are there to identify people who are displaying predatory behaviours like sexual harassment, inappropriate touching and loitering.

"Now, if someone does feel unsafe or particularly vulnerable, they can discreetly seek help by approaching the security and bar staff and asking them for 'Angela'. This code-phrase will indicate to staff that you require help, and a trained member of staff will then look to support and assist you.

"We will continue to work closely with all partner agencies within Northern Ireland to drive a wider partnership approach to keep women and girls safe. Violence against women and girls is unacceptable and will not be tolerated by society."

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