Don't Stand By, Step In launches in Redbridge

Published: 16 February 2024

Redbridge Council is launching a new initiative to embolden those who might witness sexist harassment.

Don't Stand By, Step In is the rallying call for people across Redbridge as the Council continues to address women's safety in the borough. It marks the latest instalment of the 'This Has To Stop campaign", which aims to end the harassment and abuse of women and girls. 

ThisHasToStop is a multi-year initiative to stop violence against women and girls in Redbridge.

Feedback has shown that those who witness harassment often feel unsure about what to do or worry they might worsen things. Don't Stand By, Step In empowers bystanders with information on what they can do to prevent incidents and help keep women safe. 

The Don't Stand By Step In three key steps include:

  • Distract him: Depending on the situation, it could be something simple like asking the perpetrator for directions, a question about when the bus is due, or complimenting his jacket.
  • Support her: Could you make eye contact with the affected woman to see if she is ok, or even ask someone else to assist? Maybe there is another passerby who could help check she's ok? Just a gentle word to ask if she needs any help can be enough. But she might welcome an offer to walk alongside her to the tube or bus stop. Be led by what she says, and never walk alongside her if she doesn't welcome the offer. 
  • Get help: Look around. Is there anyone else who can help ease the situation? Could you escort the woman to a shop to make a call? Is there a transport or council worker around that could help? Of course, if you're worried, it's essential to call 999. 

The training is based on international best practice in bystander training and was developed to help people support women and girls who are harassed in public places. As part of Don't Stand By, Step In, Redbridge has made available training resources to combat violence against women and girls. These resources are available to residents, local businesses, the community and the voluntary sector.

The Leader of Redbridge Council, Cllr Jas Athwal, said: "Everyone deserves to feel safe on our streets. That's why we're using innovative techniques to end sexist harassment, including fining men who catcall women and empowering people to know how and when to tackle unacceptable words and behaviour.

"It's important to stress that we're not looking for heroics and recommend that the best course of action in dangerous situations is to always call the police on 999."

Male leaders across the borough have stepped up to support the campaign, recognising that men need to challenge other men to prevent violence and to act as role models for younger boys. Dr Stephen Addison, CEO of Box Up Crime and community leader Taiwo Ademola, have been working to support other youth leaders in exploring and tackling sexist harassment amongst young people.

Dr Stephen Addison said, said: “We can stop sexist harassment – it’s not just a fact of life. And us men have a job to do – we must call out unacceptable behaviour and set a good example for our sons. Change starts with each one of us.”

Follow Stephen and Taiwo on TikTok @RealMenTalking to join the conversation.