25th May – BBC North West Tonight special report Part 2
24th May – BBC North West Tonight special report. Part 1
24th May 2023 – Why we still need to Reclaim SLAG – Blackpool Social Club
31 Jan 2022 – Sew over it – Big Issue North
We’re Sew Done
Following the initial wave of reports on the Reclaim Blackpool map in 2021, craftivist group Knittaz With Attitude decided to make textile works of art that could be strategically placed in the locations plotted on it to highlight the harassment and threats of violence that women face every day. Over 20 participants created a diverse range of powerful artworks which were later exhibited in Blackpool Central Library and documented in a book, alongside in-depth stories from victims who had recorded incidents. Read more about the project and buy the book here.
Safer Streets fund
Blackpool Council showed its support for the Reclaim Blackpool Map, contacting organisers in July 2021 to request permission to use the evidence collected in a bid for the government’s £23.5m Safer Streets Fund, which is intended to “make public spaces safer for all through projects to help women and girls feel safer on our street”. The fund was allocated in October 2021, with Blackpool Council being awarded £550,000 – the second largest sum in the North West after Cheshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, and more than Greater Manchester Combined Authority – which it said was in no small part thanks to the testimonies gathered on the map. The fund was allocated in January 2022 with local charity Empowerment receiving a portion to roll out a campaign entitled It Stops Here. The charity is supporting and promoting Reclaim Blackpool as one of the main pillars of its campaign. Safer Streets is also funding the Green Dot bystander programme, which involves training on sexual abuse, domestic abuse and harassment. The training will be delivered in schools and colleges as well as to door staff, bar staff and taxi drivers.
Reclaim The Night march
In December 2022 we joined the Reclaim The Night march through Blackpool Town Centre. The march was organised by Aviel from Empowerment, who is working on the council’s It Stops Here campaign as a result of the Safer Streets funding and is a key partner of Reclaim Blackpool. The march began at Upside Down Cafe where Antonia, who founded the map, spoke alongside Aviel, Ali who represents the Safer Streets campaign for Fylde Coast Women’s Aid, the leader of the council Lynn Williams, and Amanda Greenwood, CEO of Lancashire Women. Thanks to Libby Gomm for the great photos from the night.
Activist Alliance workshop
In January 2022 Reclaim Blackpool hosted a workshop at Aunty Social on Topping Street for Boing Boing Resilience’s Activism Alliance for young activists and community organisers. It was such an inspiring session! We spoke about Reclaim, it’s aims and areas of concern. We shared stories, we laughed, cried, got angry and got active making our own activist pin badges. The group gave us so much food for thought which we’ll now digest and turn into actions for change. We absolutely love to see the community growing around Reclaim Blackpool. It’s starting to feel like a network of activists and we want you involved! Message us to create connections and see what you can do.
Reclaim Blackpool Women’s Group
In January 2023 we hosted our first Reclaim Blackpool Women’s Group – a monthly meeting for chats, crafts and activism at Aunty Social’s new home on Topping Street. This collective of women work in businesses, charities, arts, publishing, education, marketing and more and bringing together these brilliant female minds has given Reclaim Blackpool a renewed sense of purpose and life. Together we are working on a host of projects and events to be delivered to women in Blackpool throughout 2023 and beyond.
In our February women’s group meeting we had a mammoth update on Reclaim and all our exciting plans. We kept things fun with wine and craftivism though! We had a couple of new recruits including 16-year-old Lucy who is plotting to start a Reclaim Girls’ Group at her school.
What you wearing tonight? My Catcalling Ain’t A Complement T Shirt obviously! In March we welcomed a couple more new members to our women’s group. We crafted, collected our T shirts and made plans for events and actions for the following month.
Meeting with police
In early February 2023 Antonia, Ali and Aviel met with Sargents Natali Harper and Jon Campbell Smith from the Neighbourhood Policing Team for Blackpool North and South. While Reclaim Blackpool had had various conversations with different police officers, this was a dedicated meeting with senior officers.
Our main objective for the meeting was to establish a police point of contact who we could go to if a woman who reported on the map wanted to report sexual harassment to the police. We were keen to add a box on our Google form (which women fill in to share a story on the map) offering support to women and girls who wanted to pursue complaints to the police. We felt largely confident that we achieved this in the meeting and have since added the question.
We also put a series of questions to the officers surrounding police misogyny and how it deals with women when reporting sexual harassment and assault. In January 2023 the police inspector said that one in 10 police officers should never have been able to make it through vetting. Given the huge drive in police recruitment at the moment, we asked how they are being vetted. We asked why, when such few rapes and spiking cases are prosecuted and with misogyny evidently rife in police, women should report and what they are doing to address the underlying issues.
The officers did not believe that misogyny was a cultural issue within Lancashire Constabulary and pointed to mandatory training they were completing around dealing with victims of VAWG. They did acknowledge the slow process of removing officers from the force – where complaints are made it can take years to investigate, which is concerning considering this gives an extended window for potential misconduct.
They told us that they were keen to work with Reclaim Blackpool to help rebuild the trust between the public and police be able to communicate more effectively to those who report and to bridge the gap between community action and police intervention and protection.
The officers pointed out that if a woman wanted to report a historical case of sexual harassment evidence might be lost, following them through to court action may be difficult and reports may receive no further action. But they said they aimed to provide an empathetic ear to survivors and victims – that just because a report does not result in prosecution they will be believed – and said that these reports are invaluable as they can help inform patrols, resource allocation and statistics.
The officers acknowledged the importance and validity of Reclaim Blackpool Map in building a picture of sexual harassment and allowing women an outlet, especially those who do not want to report to police. They said they could use stories on the map to inform their weekly patrol plans, and to support intelligence on ongoing offending.
We agreed that we would sent reports from Reclaim Blackpool Map to them monthly and they would respond to them internally before providing us with feedback on what they did with them. Ali is currently drawing together reports stretching back over a longer period in the first instance. We will post police responses to reports as they come in.
Meeting Paul Maynard MP
MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys, Paul Maynard invited Reclaim Blackpool to discuss our work and aims. We met him in his offices on 27th January and presented him with a briefing paper outlining the the nature and extend of public sexual harassment in Blackpool, the work we are doing and what more needs to be done. You can read this in full below. Maynard was engaged and willing and has offered some practical support in helping Reclaim Blackpool effect tangible change in areas of transport, education and policing. We look forward to seeing this work through with his help.
Catcalling Ain’t A Compliment T Shirt
Brilliant Blackpool designer Becky Davies, aka Grumpy Girl Graphics, created this rawsome T shirt design for Reclaim Blackpool in February 2023. Check out the cute Reclaim Blackpool tat above the cat’s collar. The limited edition screen printed T shirt is available on the Aunty Social shop and £5 from every sale goes back into Reclaim, allowing us to run projects and events to reach more women in the town. Grumpy Girl is also responsible for Reclaim Blackpool’s logos and this collaboration is one outcome from Reclaim Blackpool Women’s Group, of which Becky is a vital part. Thank you Becky for all your hard work and support and thanks to the 49 of you who ordered one in the presale.
Reclaim Slag fundraiser
We are so excited to finally announce Reclaim SLAG! This is another collaboration born out of Reclaim Blackpool’s Women’s Group. We are getting shit done! As well as being vital members of our growing group of activists, Emily and Lucy are co-founders of Skate Like A Girl Collective (SLAG). They aim to reclaim space for female skaters as well as the derogatory language often used towards them. SLAG has run successful fundraisers for the like of Fylde Coast Women’s Aid and decided their next one should be for Reclaim. The event will raise vital funds to allow us to run engagement projects with women in the town but it is engagement in itself too. We are so excited to meet all the women who have been engaging with us on social media and submitting their stories to the map. Before the main fundraiser at Bootleg (who have also been so supportive of Reclaim) we will be hosting crafty workshops next door at Aunty Social. These are free but we have limited space so sign up on Eventbright.
Take a look at this reel from Reclaim Slag – it was such a brilliant night and we are so grateful to Emily and Lucy from SLAG for making it happen. Huge thanks to Imogen Evans, Daisy Atkinson and the Bellez of the Ball for making it a night to remember. Massive thanks too to Bootleg for hosting, to the activists who helped in the planning and on the night (and special thanks to Becky aka Grumpy Girl Graphics for her efforts). To all the people that donated raffle prizes we are so grateful. Bankhall Whiskey, Red Lily Tattoo, and countless others. Shout out to Dirty Blondes too for feeding us. The night really showed us how much support there is for Reclaim Blackpool in this town.
International Women’s Day 2023
On Saturday 4th March Reclaim Blackpool and Aunty Social hosted craftivism workshops at the Fylde Coast International Women’s Day 2023 event at . We worked with girls aged between 11 and 16 from South Shore Academy, the Magic Club, and Synergy youth club and together we had meaningful conversations about sexual harassment, chatted about Reclaim Blackpool and made felt heart badges embroidered with words of power. We received such incredible feedback from these young women who all said it was a highlight of their day. Some of them came back as we were clearing up later in the day for some impromptu badge making and singing. It was a beautiful moment we could never have planned. One girl already knew about the map and said she had shared her story already while a couple have since plotted theirs. This sort of engagement with girls in the town is something we are going to be building on in 2023. Money raised at Reclaim Slag and through T shirt sales will help us continue this work.
We have more workshops planned for 25th March at Aunty Social as part of Reclaim Slag. You can sign up at Reclaim-SLAG-march.eventbrite.co.uk.
Activism is work
In the past few months Reclaim Blackpool has been invited to take part in several events, speaking or hosting workshops, where no pay has been offered. While we understand that budgets are slim for certain projects, and we are always keen to promote our cause, we feel it’s unethical to expect women to work for free, particularly considering this movement is about empowering women. One way to empower women is to pay us fairly.
Despite us being an unfunded project we made the decision to set our stall out early and commit to paying women for their contributions to the project. The small amounts of money raised through our Reclaim Slag fundraiser and t shirt sales are being used to offer a small fee of £30 to musicians, artists and speakers who have contributed their time to the project. While the figure is not a representation of the value of their work we hope it is seen as a statement of intent.
Many of the women who have been paid have chosen to donate their fee back to the project, which is gratefully received, and our activists are doing a lot of work planning and organising that is still unpaid. We are currently seeking funding that will allow us to pay a more representative fee and to pay our activists for the work that goes on behind the scenes.
Empowerment’s It Stop’s Here conference
Reclaim Blackpool founder Antonia Chrlesworth Stack was invited to speak at the It Stops Here conference hosted by Empowerment charity at the Village Hotel on 10th March 2023.
Empowerment was the recipient of a portion of Blackpool Council’s Safer Streets funding and over the past 12 months it has been working with young people in schools and youth groups to educate and empower them on the issue of sexual harassment and healthy relationships.
Antonia gave an overview of the project so far and outlined the areas of concern brought to light by testimonies shared on Reclaim Blackpool Map – the night time economy, public transport, the outdoors and schools. She then focussed on schools, sharing some of the stories shared on the map that happened in educational settings or to girls in uniform in the wider world.
She went on to speak about how online and public harassment collide, as illustrated by stories on the map, about the root causes of the problem for boys and the lasting impact of sexual harassment.
Thank you to Empowerment for inviting us to share our project with a room full of people who work with young people. We were able to make connections with youth groups and schools who we look forward to working with in the future.
Green Dot bystander campaign
As part of Blackpool Council’s Safer Streets funding, which Reclaim Blackpool Map was used as evidence to apply for, it has launched the Green Dot bystander campaign.
Using a community responsibility approach, the violence prevention strategy depends on the power of bystanders or witnesses to prevent violence and shift social and cultural norms.
An active bystander is someone who intervenes in a potentially dangerous situation, especially when it comes to violence. They may not be directly involved, but they do have the choice and opportunity to speak up and take action.
Reclaim Blackpool activists Ali and Aviel have both been trained to deliver the training to members of the community and members of the burgeoning Reclaim Blackpool Men’s Group have also signed up to receive the training.
Watch Blackpool Gazette’s report on the launch of the programme below.
To sign up to become a Green Dot bystander email firstname.lastname@example.org
Reclaim Blackpool Men’s Group
In March the first Reclaim Blackpool Men’s Group meeting was held at Aunty Social. The group is made up of supportive male allies who have each contacted us and asked how they can support the movement.
Antonia and Aviel also attended the first meeting to give the group context about the project and tell them about the work being done so far. The group then discussed the work they would like to do and much of it focussed on the night time economy (particularly on challenging the attitudes and behaviour of door staff) and sports.
The group will be meeting monthly. Email email@example.com if you would like to get involved.
Whether it’s reclaiming horror or skateboarding, ultimately the events Reclaim Blackpool is starting to host are all about reclaiming our power and ourselves! Our activists are a diverse bunch and are bringing their expertise to host a diverse range of events so that we can connect with as many women as possible. What better way to join our movement than through movement?
These workshops will bring together an engaging and thoughtful combination of expressive movement, creative and wellbeing activities that help women connect back to their natural untamed selves.
Sessions will encourage self-expression, reflection, embodying who we are and connecting as a group.
All women are welcome. Come in comfortable clothing that you can move in.
Supported by The Old Electric, Lancashire Women, Reclaim Blackpool and Dance Consortia North West.
Led by local dance practitioners Hannah Dial & Rosie Watt.
Hosted by The Old Electric in their theatre space on:
Monday 24th April 1-2.30pm and Friday 19th May 12-1.30pm
Reclaim Women in Horror
Reclaim Blackpool and Scream and Shake Horror Bar presents an evening of discussion dedicated to the female representation in the horror genre.
On 28th April, 6.30pm at Scream and Shake on Birley Street, Blackpool, host Stephanie Cottle welcomes an impressive panel of speakers
@rhiblundell Actor in HBO‘s Vampire Academy & stage adaptation of Let the Right One In
Deborah Contessa, Local Historian @cemeterytalkswalkstours
Dr Sorcha Ni Fhlainn, gothic expert and Senior Lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University @vampiresorcha
Holly Hulme, Global Head of Branding for The Dungeon attractions @hollydoll86
Lucy Lavery, English Literature PhD student @tonysoprano1959
Join us as we explore how female characters are reclaiming agency in modern horror. We’ll spend time discussing traditional tropes and ground-breaking women in horror as well as looking at recent depicitions of femininity that subvert the male gaze and move towards empowerment. The panel discussion will be followed by an after party with DJ so hang around for some creepy cocktails and raffles prizes!
Tickets are free and available from tinyurl.com/reclaimhorror with a £3 suggested donation on the door. All proceeds go towards paying speakers and Reclaim Blackpool‘s ongoing efforts.