Safer Spaces Now Returns to Notting Hill Carnival for 2023

Safer Spaces Now CIC worked in partnership with Notting Hill Carnival, Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) and the Metropolitan Police again this year, to provide specialist support to prevent and respond to incidents of violence against women and girls and all forms of domestic abuse and sexual violence.

Safer Spaces Now CIC is a non-profit organisation supporting women and girls, by tackling domestic abuse and sexual violence at festivals and large events. Safer Spaces are gender informed but gender inclusive, turning no one away that is in need of support and offering gender specific spaces if required. This year Safer Spaces Now has also joined forces with The Lioness Pride CIC, which is a specialist and frontline community organisation based in Croydon.

Their main aim is to inspire, educate and empower women and girl survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence, particularly those born of African and Caribbean heritage. They offer a plethora of support services for those affected by Domestic Abuse and sexual violence, as well as a specialist aftercare service called “The Lioness Circle”, which provides trauma informed long-term support and a culturally safe space ‘by and for’ women and girl survivors across London.

Carnival goers, performers and traders can go to the designated space, which will be located in sectors 1 and 5, if they feel unsafe, are in need of advice or wish to speak to someone while attending Carnival. The Safer Spaces Team will also be delivering outreach throughout the Carnival, so look out for their coral t-shirts! They will be delivering brief Active By-Stander Intervention training to carnival goers, challenging inappropriate behaviour and encouraging people to support each other to enjoy the event safely.

Anyone that feels unsafe, needs support with ongoing or previous experiences of domestic abuse or sexual violence can reach out to the team for a chat, access support to report to the police and/or to access specialist services in their area or to just take some time out and relax with the team until they feel safe to return to the party or are supported to leave the event safely.

Anna MacGregor, CEO and Co-Founder of Safer Spaces said: “Safer Spaces wants to eradicate VAWG and harassment throughout society by raising awareness, training professionals and members of the community to challenge behaviours, identify abuse and respond and support people who have experienced or been impacted by assault, abuse or harassment. As a country we are creating better services, structures and legislation to respond to VAWG, but it is not enough. VAWG is a systemic and longstanding issue, embedded culturally and socially. We need to engage with people directly, creating safe spaces for women and girls and educating and challenging male violence. Festivals, events and artists are uniquely positioned to really emphasise a zero tolerance approach and show women and girls that they are valued and that male violence is condemned.”

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I’m committed to ensuring women and girls feel safe in London and that’s why I’m pleased to be helping to fund charity Safer Spaces Now’s important partnership work with the Met Police at this year’s Notting Hill Carnival.

“My investment will ensure there are safe spaces for women and girls to access at any point during Carnival celebrations with dedicated staff and volunteers providing specialist support services. This work is vital as we continue to build a safer London for everyone.”

Chief Inspector Laura Smith, of the Met’s central VAWG team said: “The deployment of Safer Spaces at this year’s carnival is part of our work to improve our response to VAWG and to make women feel safer in London. Supported by funding from MOPAC, this is the second year the Met has collaborated with Safer Spaces at Notting Hill. We have taken on board learnings from last year to help ensure the spaces are even more welcoming to offer help to women and girls on the NHC footprint. We want everyone to enjoy London’s major events and we are providing support to help them have a memorable and safe day out at one of the capital’s most iconic events.