An organisation dedicated to creating a safer society for women attracted a full house to its first meeting in Crewe including police chiefs, civic dignitaries, and charity leaders.
The Alpha Omega Women Peace and Security (WPS) Foundation, based in Crewe, also welcomed many members of the public who shared their own personal experiences and voiced concerns for themselves and their daughters.
The gathering, which included local women of all ages and from different racial backgrounds, shared a common fear of walking and travelling alone at night.
Hidden abuse in the home, gaslighting and the torment of controlling relationships was raised as was a culture of male dominance causing female colleagues to feel intimidated and undermined in the workplace.
Foundation founder Amaka Lawton explained that its aim was to drive home the ‘Right to Be Safe,’ message and change attitudes to women by educating the male population from a very young age.
She said: “The Foundation is inspired by the United Nations Security Council Resolution on women, peace and security and aims to involve, educate and assist women in promoting peace and security within their communities.
“Shockingly between April 2020 and March 2021 a total of 177 women were murdered in England and Wales and of these 109 were killed by men. More than half died at the hands of men they knew. In the year ending September 21 there were over 40,000 rapes.
“Surely it is time to do more to protect women. The Foundation aims to involve them in peace and security efforts and see more appointed to policy-making positions.
“We are starting on our home turf in Cheshire and as the months go on, we hope to gradually recruit women nationally to the cause.”
The meeting, staged at the Apollo Buckingham Health Sciences Campus, also welcomed Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire John Dwyer and Chief Inspector Claire Jesson who spoke about various initiatives to safeguard women.
The Safety of Women at Night (SWAN) campaign had included increased visibility at peak times and there was now a streaming platform known as GoodSAM which Facetimes women calling 999 to capture what is occurring and pinpoint a location.
Police were also deploying a safety bus on Friday and Saturday nights to provide a safe passage home to vulnerable females and there were dedicated domestic abuse cars that respond to incidents 24/7.
From the night-time economy was Nantwich club owner Clive Webb who gave details of anti-spiking measures at his venue, Nakatcha on Welsh Row, including special covers for glasses.
Charities attending included Crewe-based Motherwell Cheshire which promotes the health and wellbeing of women and organisers of the Facebook group Black Moms in Cheshire.
Mum-of-one Amaka, who hails from Nigeria where she was in the military, added: “It touched my heart to welcome so many women and to hear them speak so openly.
“This participation is key. We want to get everyone involved in this mission, from police and local authorities to family, friends, and neighbours.
“Our focus will also be on Prevention, addressing the immediate safety needs of local women and Protection, developing strategies to keep them safe, especially education. Respect for women needs to start young.”
There was a stark example from one mum upset at her daughter being taunted at school by boys and an incident where communal toilet doors were kicked.
Foundation co-founder Ken Lawton, owner of Alpha Omega Securities in Crewe and Amaka’s husband, thanked all for attending.
Nantwich man Mr Lawton, who has 42 years in the security industry, said: “We all need to take personal responsibility to avoid danger, but residents also need to look out for one another and not be that person who walks by or the neighbour that ignores a domestic altercations.
“If the Foundation can bring about change locally and help restore old fashioned values it will have achieved a great deal.”
Crewe mayor, Cllr Tom Dunlop, who also attended, said: “It’s good to see this new organisation formed in Crewe to drive forward a national agenda on women’s safety. From the turn-out, it is clear, there will be much support for its work locally.”
The Foundation plans to stage regular meetings and welcomes feedback.
Meanwhile on June 3 it has sent out an open invitation for all local women and their families to let their hair down at Queen’s Park Jubilee celebration.
There will be free food and drinks at the Foundation’s charity stall and the opportunity to take time out and make new friends.
Anyone interested in exploring ways to support the safety of local women and children is urged to get involved with its work.
For more information call Amaka on 0300 365 9223 or email firstname.lastname@example.org