In October 2017 members of the local community came together to form The Voice of Holbeck to liaise with the council, police and Safer Leeds in regards to the Managed Approach to Street Prostitution in Holbeck.
We aim to represent community voices on this issue and bring an end to street prostitution in Leeds. Voice of Holbeck is a partnership of 10 community groups, schools, charities and churches; Holbeck Gala, The Holbeck, Holbeck Together, Cross Ingram Residents Association, St Luke’s Primary School, Ingram Road Primary School, Save Our Eyes, Holbeck Christian Fellowship, St Luke’s Church and Mosaic Church. As a group we care deeply about Holbeck, the residents and the people who work here and want to see Holbeck be a thriving community, where people are safe and are proud of where the live.
In February 2019 Voice of Holbeck launched the Listening Well Campaign at The Holbeck with the support of Leeds Citizens. ‘Listening Well’ is a community led, community driven listening campaign focusing on community safety and the Managed Approach in Holbeck. As Voice of Holbeck we wanted to give as many people in the community as possible opportunities to share their stories, experiences and ideas around the Managed Approach and make sure that key decision makers really listened to the community and responded with action. At the Listening Well launch the strategic leads (Paul Money, Steve Cotter, Cllr Debra Coupar and James Rogers) agreed to attend all Listening Well events and, importantly, to act on the results of Listening Well in regards to policy and resource.
In the past year we have held 8 Listening Well events across the community and over 500 people have engaged in conversations through the process ranging from children and young people to 90+ year olds, and representing the diversity of Holbeck residents. All events were attended by strategic leads from the council, police and Safer Leeds as well as our local councillors. Their role at these events was to listen to residents sharing their experiences of what life is like for them in Holbeck, specifically in relation to the Managed Approach.
The format was important: everyone sat together, with the strategic leads listening to individual table discussions. Our goal was to provide people with a supportive space to share potentially distressing experiences, that could be recorded for a final report but also heard directly by decision-makers for the Approach.
We have been delighted with how the community has come together around this issue and that the strategic leads have heard such a wide range of deeply significant stories. We have shown that we are a strong, compassionate and committed community. Thank you if you have taken part in one of the events, there is power in numbers and power in stories and the process has worked so effectively because of brilliant community engagement and people bravely stepping forward to share their experiences.
Voice of Holbeck made a commitment to support local voices to have the greatest impact. We believe that producing a stand-alone report which focuses solely on community impact is an important step towards this. Now in March 2020 we at the stage where all the Listening Well conversations and findings are being written up into the final report by Dr. Louise Warwick Booth, a Sociologist from Leeds Beckett University who co-directs the university’s Centre for Health Promotion Research.
In April we will hold two workshops where residents will have the opportunity to look at the findings and discuss recommendations before the report is finalised and published. The report will then be launched and presented to Police, Council and Safer Leeds at a big public event, back at The Holbeck where the whole process began.
Voice of Holbeck have coordinated Listening Well to coincide with the Independent Review for the Managed Approach to Street Prostitution, which has been commissioned by Safer Leeds. The review, currently taking place conducted by a team from Huddersfield University is reviewing all elements of the Managed Approach, taking into account input from the council, police, Safer Leeds, professionals, the women and the residents. This is due to be released in May 2020. The two reports will create an extensive body of evidence reflecting on the effectiveness of the Managed Approach and given the public promise from Safer Leeds to act on the findings, both reports will inform what happens moving forward.
Voice of Holbeck will continue to work hard to hold the strategic leads to account on their promises to act in response to our recommendations.
Keep an eye out for more information on the April workshops and the Listening Well Report launch event.
Please report concerns relating to sex-working to the dedicated number: 07534 309568
Please report all crimes or other concerns to the Police via 101, online, or 999 in an emergency (ongoing active crime)
This post was written by Kate Alty
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