koko- blog

Staying safe

Friendship

As a child I can remember talks about not talking to strangers; not getting into a stranger’s car; and  if a stranger should approach you then run away and find help from a shopkeeper or parent with a child, if you can find one.

Throughout secondary school I remember girl’s safety being discussed more so than boys in assemblies.

When my twin sister went to university, she’d call us as she walked to and from lectures. If she was going out with friends or working a close in the bar where she worked, she’d call my mum, me, my sister or my dad to ensure we knew she was safe. If we were unable to answer she’d text to let us know when she arrived safely home.

I remember working at a conference and events centre closing the building after an event. All the staff had gone home, and I was putting the bins out as I was driving and others were getting taxis or cycling home, and I had my car keys in my hand and ran to my car.

I think of COVID-19 and how I haven’t run to my car at the end of a night, I think of my sister who hasn’t had to call us on a walk to or from meeting her friends. I think of others throughout the world who haven’t had this luxury. I was recently on a webinar and a quote that stood out to me was ‘Position doesn’t mean we’ve arrived at equality’. It frustrates me that even though I stand tall and walk with confidence, as do many others, we’re not all lucky. We’re all able to talk out about where we’ve felt unsafe, where people have supported us, or where we’ve supported our peers. By sharing I hope we can be the generation that sees the change in women’s safety and doesn’t see us running to our car, car key in hand, and locking the doors as soon as we’re in.

It’s not just walking through town, across car parks or down a street you’ve been down so many times you can say what cracks are in the pavement, how many uneven paving slabs there are or how many pieces of chewing gum have seen spat out and stood into the ground. Our friends, family, co-workers, and school friends have also faced difficulties whilst being at home.

I’ve found that by ensuring my friends know I’m here for them we’ve been able to support one another. I have a weekly call with my friends on a Friday night, we aim to have a chatter and complete a quiz. There are times when we talk from 6pm to 1am, we don’t set a limit to our calls as we know we’re all at different points in our lives, and we know that sometimes on an evening to talk openly with no judgment is what we need. We can give each other a virtual hug.

I’m going to challenge you… can you reach out to a friend you’ve not spoken to in a while? Can you set up a group call with your friends? Can you let your friends know that you’re truly and wholly there for them without any judgement and really mean it?

This year I’ve seen a real positive difference in my friendship group. Although we haven’t seen each other physically we know there’s no pressure, we’ll listen and there’s no judgement, we can just talk.

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