Businesses in Weymouth town center are being encouraged to join a pilot scheme offering young women and girls a safe space if they feel unsafe or threatened outside the family home.
The Pineapple Project, run by Dorset Council, with Dorset Police, Weymouth College and the Targeted Sexual Health Service (part of Sexual Health Dorset), works with young women who have expressed a need for safe places in their community.
More companies are needed to offer support.
These can be shops, entertainment venues or beauty salons that can provide a safe haven for young women and girls in the city, for a few minutes, an hour or a little more.
Community Tutors from local businesses who sign up to help will receive comprehensive training and ongoing support.
Young women will be able to identify community guardians by looking for the discreet Pineapple Project logo – this could be displayed in a shop window, or the guardian may be wearing a badge.
The pilot project focuses on young women as they are statistically more likely to have their safety affected, for example by being approached, exploited or sexually assaulted (verbally or physically). However, the companies will be making contacts available for backup-related questions to everyone.
If you can help girls and young women in Weymouth feel safe, please contact The Pineapple Project on 01305 762400 or email [email protected].
Cllr Andrew Parry, Portfolio Holder for Children, Education, Skills and Early Support, Dorset Council, said: “All girls and young women should feel safe in their communities and able to seek out the right support at the right time. Unfortunately, some experience and fear different forms of intrusion, and sometimes violence, in public spaces.
“It can affect their whole life and they no longer feel safe to move around their neighborhood or even participate in school, work or social life.
“It takes more than professionals to protect young women and girls, and local businesses are the eyes and ears of our communities. If you think you can offer sanctuary, whether it’s a place to feel safe or guide them to additional support, please contact us.
David Parr, Dorset Police, said: “Dorset continues to be one of the safest counties in the country, but we also recognize that there may be times when people feel vulnerable and need help or support. We are delighted to be working with Dorset Council and supporting The Pineapple Project to create safe spaces for young women to access.
Sue Dafter, Student Services Manager, Weymouth College said: “We are very keen to support the Pineapple project at the college. After listening to our students and through the revelations made during our February ‘Sexual Violence Awareness Week’‘ in collaboration with STARS Dorset, we are concerned about the amount of violence against girls and young women in the region that goes unreported. It takes a whole village to raise a child, as the saying goes, and it’s a perfect way to engage the wider business community to help provide the support needed.
If the project is successful, the team hope to roll it out to other towns in Dorset.
Follow The Pineapple Project on Instagram.