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Safe Spaces Conference

On 27 February, our Services and Safeguarding Lead Fiona headed to the "Shaping Tomorrow: Creating Safe Spaces for Girls and Women" conference in Cardiff. As well as attending to hear about the inspiring work of all the guest speakers, we were also kindly asked to deliver a workshop about our work at Abianda.

Our workshop included exploring the ways that we centre contextual safeguarding throughout our practice and reflecting on the ways that we have begun utilising location-based interventions. For example, the development of our 'Location Consultation' process, which aims to work collaboratively with statutory & community partners, to implement a Contextual Safeguarding approach to increase safety for girls & young women who may be experiencing or at risk of criminal exploitation and harm. It does so by identifying physical spaces where young women & girls are experiencing risk, hearing and amplifying their voices in relation to what would make them safer in these spaces and seeking to disrupt systemic inequalities that may be sustaining said risk. 

The day was jam-packed with information, with some brilliant insight into innovative approaches to creating safer spaces in Wales. We heard first from Susannah Walker from Make Space For Girls who talked to us about the organisation's work campaigning for public spaces to be designed for girls and young women, not just boys and young men. We saw some beautiful examples of spaces in other countries where young women and girls' requests (such as places to swing, seating where they can face each other and talk etc.) had been centred with great success. 

We then heard from Dr Anna Barker about the Safer Parks: Improving Access for Women and Girls report, which now forms part of the Green Flag award guidance. We were reminded of the importance of hearing what girls and young women have to say about community spaces, something that is also central to our location-based work at Abianda. 

Throughout the rest of the day, we heard about the need for a whole systems approach, the need to explore the role of the nighttime economy in reducing violence against women and girls (courtesy of Karen Whybro and her brilliant and engaging presentation) and some promising practice in Scotland, by way of the Place Standard Tool as described and thought-provokingly reflected on by Dr Jenny Wood from A Place in Childhood. Last but by no means least, we heard from Georgia Theodoulou about Our Streets Now and their culture-shifting work and upcoming campaigns.

We came away from the event feeling enthused and empowered by all of the incredible work being done to create safer spaces for women and girls. Fiona thoroughly enjoyed delivering our Abianda workshops to two excellent groups of delegates - and hopes they enjoyed it as much as she did! - and making connections with like-minded practitioners and professionals.

We look forward to staying in touch, hearing about the next steps of all the organisations and speakers involved on the day and seeing how Abianda's location-based, contextual safeguarding work can grow, develop, support and inform this area of practice. We want to ensure that young women and girls who are affected by criminal exploitation and violence are always seen and heard in their communities with the access to safety, support and fun that they deserve. 

Thank you to Cardiff Council and all in the Safeguarding Adolescents from Exploitation (SAFE) partnership for having us!


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