Take Back The Bailey; 'As a collective, we want societal change.'

Following in the wake of the Sarah Everard tragedy, a group of students spanning different year groups decided enough was enough. Together they formed Take Back The Bailey (TBTB). A campaign group focussed on making Durham's streets safer for women.

I was lucky enough to chat to five representatives from the group, Rhianne, Ellie, Jess, Kunj and Finola about setting up the group and it's future.

What sparked from an Instagram story now has emerged into a campaign group actively working with societies and sports groups across Durham to fulfil their aims- awareness, education, and change. They explained the importance in breaking the stigma of discussing sexual harassment. The group are committed to the idea of community, educating the wider student population about their cause through fundraising events.

Currently, TBTB have organised a week-long virtual sponsored walk with great success. In honour of Sarah Everard, a Durham alumnus, their first day saw 110 athletes totalling 289km. Their overall target is 852km, the distance from Clapham to Durham and back. The group hopes that with each step taken they can #fightthefear and raise money for End Violence Against Women. A charity working to challenge the wider cultural attitudes that tolerate and condone violence against women and girls.  

Chatting to the representatives it became clear that the group intends to have everyone on the same level. They explained this was due to the time consuming nature and sensitivity of the issues they are campaigning. They stressed that this would allow members of the committee to take a step back if they wanted to without harming the campaign.

I questioned the group about whether they had any fears around the group’s longevity. The group stressed that “sexual violence has always been an issue and women have always been disproportionately affected”. Grief and anger motivate the group and they have no worries that they cannot sustain these feelings long term.

The group is committed to the issue of women’s safety as being resonate with all genders. They stress that whatever your age, race or gender, the group is for you. In this vein, they have also reached out to male dominated societies and sport groups.

I wondered if the group had anything they wanted to spotlight in Durham. They stressed Durham’s position as one of the worst offenders when it came to sexual violence. They want to change that. Implementing policy change is a priority. Working closely with Its Not Ok Durham, they have identified where change needs to happen. Counselling for survivors is currently an opt-in process, but the group aim to reverse this. They feel counselling is a necessity not an added extra. Closing off or solving all outstanding university investigations into sexual violence before potential perpetrators are welcomed as alumni by the university is a requisite.

Looking ahead to the future, they see partnerships with the good lad initiative as a fantastic opportunity to further their cause. The good lad initiative now rebranded as Beyond Equality focuses on engaging men and boys in gender equality through workshops in universities, schools, and the workplace.

The group is aware that the changes they want to bring about are a big challenge. They stressed that these are not “short term goals they are long term changes”. Yet the overwhelming positive support the group has received is staggering.

Durham has a history of silencing these issues. Yet these girls will not be silenced.  Many are thankful and have shown support over social media for the work the group is doing.  Famous Durham names like Gabby Logan and Kate Silverton have also expressed support and are onboard the campaign.

One representative was amazed at their growth in a short time, she stated that “she would never have called herself an activist three weeks ago, but now she is involved in a nationwide campaign”.

The group made clear that anyone can get involved. The group is looking to expand into a working committee stressing that as a “collective, we want societal change.”

If you are interested in getting involved, you can find the group most active on their Instagram @takebackthebailey.