Over 70 people took to the streets of Tunbridge Wells to join this year’s Reclaim the Night walk in a campaign for women’s safety.
Following the success of last year’s inaugural walk, Reclaim the Night co-founders, writer and campaigner Lauren Brook and Cllr Jayne Sharratt (Labour), held the second annual walk last Saturday (November 25).
People from across the Borough met on Rusthall High Street and St John’s Church, armed with placards, woolly hats and high-vis vests, and headed down to The Pantiles, in a campaign to create safer streets for women, girls and marginalised people.
Lauren said: “On Saturday night we reclaimed our streets, with 70 people leaving their warm houses to walk with us. It was the most inspiring, rousing, heart-warming, brilliant evening full of warmth, laughter and poignancy – our community came together in the most meaningful way and we couldn’t be more grateful to everyone for attending and being so engaged in our cause.”
People of all ages, backgrounds and genders joined the march, including women’s organisation The Soroptimists, Cllr Justine Rutland and Tunbridge Wells Rugby Club’s Ladies team. Lauren told the Times last month that she and Jayne believe conversations around women’s issues and safety ‘should always include men’, so she said it was encouraging to see Leader of the Council Ben Chapelard and male staff from Kent Police walk in solidarity for women.
Lauren chose the date for the walk to coincide with the UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls, and the clocks going back last month, as when the nights are darker women feel more vulnerable being outside.
Cllr Sharratt said: “I’m here for the friendship, connection, community empowerment and energy of Reclaim the Night, but never forget the serious reasons behind our walk. When I walk alone in the dark I tell myself my fears are an overactive imagination steeped in grim fairy tales, film and tv, novels, legends… but the news stories are real and we can never be sure we are safe – there’s a darkness out there but we refuse to accept that there isn’t light and hope too.”
She added: “So we walk together to say that we want to bring down the wall of misogyny and patriarchy that underpins the epidemic of violence against women, girls and other marginalised groups because one day there will be a tipping point and things will change.”