What do women in Coventry Want?

What do women in Coventry want?

 Report of a consultation with women on the Coventry Sustainable Community Strategy

 19 November 2010

Introduction

What do women in Coventry want?

On 19 November 2010 Coventry Women’s Voices organised a consultation event to bring together women in Coventry to examine the Coventry Partnership’s Sustainable Community Strategy.

Coventry Women’s Voices is a group of organisations and individuals that works to ensure women’s voices in Coventry are heard and to improve the lives of women living in Coventry.

We provide a network for women in Coventry to come together, talk, share ideas and develop best practice. We provide expert advice and information about the actual and likely effect that policies and programmes will have on women and we support organisations that want to consult with women living in Coventry.

The Sustainable Community Strategy sets priorities for action for Coventry under eight broad headings: Economy, learning, skills and employment; Health and Well-being; Community Safety; Climate change and the environment; Children and Young People; Housing; Transport and Culture, Sport and Physical Activity.

Participants in the consultation event were split into groups, each group discussing one of these themes. Each group was asked to consider the priorities set by the Coventry Partnership and decide whether these were the priorities they would set, and what the particular issues for women were under each theme. Each group identified five priorities, which were then shared with all participants. Women were able to vote for their top priorities from the full list of forty (five priorities from each of eight groups).

The results of this consultation will be fed back into the wider consultation that the Coventry Partnership is carrying out into the Sustainable Community Strategy. They will also inform Coventry Women’s Voices’ continued work to make sure women’s organisations and individual women in Coventry are able to participate in the decisions that affect their lives.

This is a report of the conclusions of the day.

Key priorities from each discussion group

Economy, Learning skills and employment

Provide information resources for women about jobs, training etc.

Carry out gender impact of redundancies

Raise minimum wage

Regenerate shopping centres

Research into mature students leaving education before completion

Health and well-being

Empower people to overcome deprivation and start to engage with the future.

Consider the needs of older women

Recognise one size does not fit all – strategies need to respond to the needs of different groups

Reduce health inequalities

Tackle teenage pregnancy

 

Community safety

Violence Against Women & Girls – including DVA, hate crime, sexual exploitation FGM etc.

Continue to prioritise schemes for vulnerable women

Support for victims

Communication and education

Manage and change offending behaviours

Climate Change & Environment

Impact of housing – including refits of older properties

Improve quality of local parks and open spaces

Address fly tipping

Reduce carbon footprint of city council

Develop community spirit and pride

 

Children and Young People

Protect services within children’s centres, the Council should do a gender impact assessment whenever a service is due to be cut

Parents need better signposting to services and key people that will help identify choices/services available

Encourage young people to be members of decision making boards and organise an event for young people’s voices to be heard by children and young people’s services

Coventry women’s voices should include young women on its board. Services such as valley house could bridge the gap between Coventry women’s voices and young people.

Housing

Continue to improve the quality of the private rented sector

Make housing benefits process more efficient

More homeless prevention work.

Educate and promote council housing services, including working with schools on housing options

 

Transport

Safety – particularly for women travelling at night

Make public transport more women friendly

Encourage walking

Policies to encourage cycling aimed at women as well as men to address the reasons why women don’t cycle

 

Culture sport and physical activity

More accessible sports activities for women, taking into account cost, timing and awareness

Integrate cultural diversity through community festivals

Help isolated women access low cost or no cost venues

Improve city centre including promoting park and ride and addressing the barrier of the ring road and subways.

General points

The consultation revealed the ways in which the priorities of women and women’s organisations differ from those set by the Coventry Partnership. For example one of the key priorities for all women at the event was tackling all forms of violence against women including domestic violence, rape, sexual exploitation and FGM. In the priorities set by the Coventry Partnership  there is a single mention of domestic violence as part of a broader priority on reducing violent crime (under community safety), but nothing on other forms of violence against women.

Several of the priorities set by women at the conference were similar to those of the Coventry Partnership. However women often highlighted particular concerns which may not be reflected in the Partnership’s approach to addressing these priorities. For example under transport women shared the Coventry Partnership’s aim to improve public transport services but their discussion about the problems of public transport included questions of women’s safety and whether public transport met women’s particular transport needs.

In light of this Coventry Women’s Voices believes that it is important women are consulted not only on the broad priorities for each theme group but on the details of how these priorities should be taken forward.

The consultation took place under the shadow of impending cuts in public spending that will have a disproportionate affect on women. Not surprisingly the likely impact of spending cuts on all these areas was a major theme in discussions. Several groups called for a gender impact assessment to take place on any spending decisions in Coventry. Such an assessment must involve consultation with women and women’s organisations if it is to truly reflect the likely impact of decisions on women in Coventry. Coventry Women’s Voices member organisations are keen to take part in such consultations.

This was the first public event organised by Coventry Women’s Voices. It was attended by over seventy women and representatives of women’s organisations. A striking aspect of the day was the level of enthusiasm for both the event and the establishment of Coventry Women’s Voices among the women present. We hope that we can build on this enthusiasm and energy to make a real difference to the lives of women in Coventry.


The Theme Groups

Economy, learning skills and employment

 

The priorities set by the Coventry Partnership are:

  • Support people to develop the skills needed to access jobs and progress to higher skilled jobs to ensure local people benefit from the growth of the city and increase their household income
  • Increase the number of school leavers in education, employment and training
  • Continue the transformation of the city centre so that it is a vibrant place to work, live and for business to locate within
  • Create a diverse range of businesses and jobs to meet the aspirations and potential of all Coventry’s residents
  • Create the conditions for growth and enterprise in the City’s economy

 

The priorites set by the group are:

  • Provide information resources for women about jobs, training etc.
  • Carry out gender impact of redundancies
  • Raise minimum wage
  • Regenerate shopping centres
  • Research into mature students leaving education before completion

Points from discussion

Provide information resources for women

Women identified the need for information about training, career, education, voluntary resources. This might include; a database/map of resources, a women’s business and voluntary network, an options fair that included a crèche and baby changing facilities. Colleges and volunteer associations would likely run these stalls for free as it benefits them. The group called for specific women’s resources in libraries/on council websites and recognition that not everyone has internet access. The group observed that current information aimed at women is ageist, for example the only activity suggested to mature women in library is bingo!

Carry out a gender impact assessment of redundancies

The group believed that it was vital that a gender impact assessment of all redundancies in Coventry be carried out, not just those in the public sector. This should be broken down to identify which women are most likely to be affected, the impact on BME women and so on. This gender impact assessment should be part of a wider gender impact assessment of all council activities.

Specific support is needed for women who have been made redundant. Many women too vulnerable financially to become entrepreneurs and yet this is the first solution men and government present to them. Perhaps women could be trained to go into enterprise as part of cooperatives to lessen the risk. Training for alternative careers all very well but no use if the jobs aren’t there!

Any work to address women’s employment and or help women who have been made redundant must not forget women with disabilities who face many additional challenges.

Investigate the numbers of mature students leaving courses before they are complete because of loss of benefits.

Members of the group were concerned about what was happening to mature students. They believed that the job centre focus on NEETS (young people not in employment, education or training) has meant that mature students have been forgotten.

The group identified a problem with mature students in their 30s, 40s and 50s having to leave courses before completion because they lose their housing or childcare benefits. Many mature students are carers. The council should organise focus groups or a survey to find out how many women this affects and so they can go into detail about the barriers to them finishing their education.

Other issues:

  • Regenerate Coventry shopping centres so there are fewer pound shops
  • Raise the minimum wage.
  • Business owners frustrated that government schemes to help them  are restrictive and dependent on being based in particular post-codes


Health and Well being

The priorities set by the Coventry Partnership are:

  • Tackle obesity by getting more people involved in physical activities and eating a healthier diet
  • Reduce the number of people who smoke
  • Improve mental health (people’s emotional and psychological well-being)
  • Reduce health inequalities between communities
  • Improve sexual health and reduce the under 18 conception rate
  • Reduce alcohol and drugs use and provide effective drug and alcohol treatment services
  • Increase the independence of older people
  • Increase the choices and control older people and adults with disabilities have with their health and social care

The priorities set by the group are:

  • Empower people to overcome deprivation and start to engage with the future.
  • Consider the needs of older women
  • Recognise one size does not fit all – strategies need to respond to the needs of different groups
  • Reduce health inequalities
  • Tackle teenage pregnancy

Points from discussion

Diet

Dieticians encouraging behaviour management – listening to your body signals – are brilliant but too expensive to roll out throughout Coventry. It was suggested that all GPs and GP surgeries in the city should have list of organisations that can help.

Already have: Active 4 Health. One Body One Life, Passport to Leisure Healthy Schools and Cook and Eat Well and many others but within the current economic climate they will be difficult to maintain in the future due to lack of funding.

The group asked:

Do GP Commissioners want to spend their money of this?

– How do we get into these forums?

– How to increase public and patient involvement?

Smoking

Biggest killer in Coventry. Just stopping smoking would solve so many other health issues. In areas of deprivation in Coventry there is a 10 year gap in the age at which men can expect to die compared with the more affluent areas. Current work being undertaken clearly isn’t working and needs to be introduced on an Industrial Scale if it is to make a real and measurable change.

Works should be done to engage people through the media and by all health professionals.

Aspirational and inspirational

If you raise self-esteem, through education children are more likely to have greater aspirations. This will have a knock on effects on their thinking about weight, smoking, teen pregnancy etc. Need champions, role models and real life success stories.

Community engagement   –

Running workshops in GP’s does make use of what we have – the captive audience in waiting rooms, with a Doctors authority but professionals need to go to the community; waiting for the hard to reach to come to us will not work. One fit does not fit all. Peer support is important, like-minded people who do not represent authority.

Pressure on manufacturers:

To have a clear, common, traffic light approach to health charts on menus in restaurants/processed food etc.

Teenage Pregnancy

Often can result from a problem stemming from low self-esteem in girls, either wanting affection from boys, or the affection of their own baby. Though mainly occurring in deprived areas, low self-esteem in teenagers also spans the classes.

Solution: Sex Ed; for boys too. They feel under pressure as well.

 


Community Safety

 

The priorities set by the Coventry Partnership are:

  • Reduce the harm caused by illegal drugs and alcohol through the provision of recovery focused treatment
  • Reduce environmental crime, including graffiti, abandoned vehicles and fly- tipping
  • Improve communications to reduce the fear of crime and anti-social behaviour to ensure local people feel confident in reporting crime and are kept informed on action to address local issues
  • Prevent and reduce crime through targeted activity and enforcement and support to change offending behaviour and reduce re-offending
  • Support victims of crime and anti-social behaviour
  • Improve opportunities for residents to report, access services and/or get involved in addressing local issues
  • Robust management of prolific offenders of priority crimes
  • Promote community cohesion and tackle crimes which are motivated by hate
  • Reduce alcohol related crime and rowdy/nuisance behaviour
  • Reduce all types of violent crime, including domestic violence
  • Work with families and individuals causing concern in local neighbourhoods to address problematic and unacceptable behaviour
  • Prevent and reduce deliberate fires

 

The priorities set by the group are:

  • Violence Against Women & Girls – including DVA, hate crime, sexual exploitation FGM etc.
  • Continue to prioritise schemes for vulnerable women
  • Support for victims
  • Communication and education
  • Manage and change offending behaviours

Points from discussion

 

The main priority raised by the group was violence against women & girls. In particular the group discussed:

The definition of violence against women should include sexual exploitation (i.e. trafficking & sex working, FGM etc). Sex workers are often victims of crime. Crimes against sex workers are hate crimes. Instead of criminalising and stigmatising sex work, those involved in it should be helped to find a way out. However helping sex workers is often perceived as not an integral part of helping community

Victim support should include ease of access to services including specialist services. The confidence to report required the right agencies to report. Support should include emotional & moral support not just treatment & physical support i.e. domestic security & emergency accommodation etc

Managing and changing offenders’ behaviours requires support to change i.e. behaviour change programmes and treatment and recovery

Communication and Education should mean educating whole communities rather than just emphasis on children and young people via education establishments. This means tackling fear and intolerance

Tackling substance misuse including drugs and alcohol requires treatment and support for both problematic and dependant users and recovery and rehabilitation for dependant users

Issues raised in the discussion:

  • The importance of understanding victims of violence and providing them with support
  • The importance of bringing a range of organisations/agencies together in order to solve the problems of community safety
  • The complexity of crime has to be taken into account when attempting to understand its main causes. The offenders themselves and their motives also need to be taken into account (sometimes victims or have been victims themselves or perpetrate because of learnt behaviour)
  • A strategic assessment based on detailed information should be published every year to determine local priorities and need and direct service and resource accordingly for both people and place including victims and perpetrators.
  • The need to educate at earliest opportunity i.e. pre birth for parents and then birth onwards
  • Tackle easy accessibility to drugs and alcohol which triggers or sometimes exacerbates  offending behaviour and interim impacts and  ‘threatens’ community safety
  • The fear of crime has a damaging impact on both people and is often greater than the level of crime happening itself
  • The extent of sexual exploitation within the city needs to be analysed and understood


Climate change and environment

The priorities set by Coventry Partnership are:

  • Help organisations and individuals adapt to the inevitable effects of climate change
  • Reduce Coventry’s carbon footprint
  • Improve the quality and use of local parks and open spaces
  • Reduce fly-tipping in problem areas of the city
  • Improve the quality of open spaces including car parks, hedgerows and verges
  • Encourage individuals and organisations to minimise the impact of their activities on climate change
  • Reduce the carbon emissions produced by Coventry City Council and the wider community
  • Improve street cleanliness in Coventry

The priorities set by the group are:

  • Impact of housing – including refits of older properties
  • Improve quality of local parks and open spaces
  • Address fly tipping
  • Reduce carbon footprint of city council
  • Develop community spirit and pride

Points from discussion

The group recognised that Coventry has a history of producing car manufacturing and needs to find a way to move forward; could Coventry become the green city of the west midlands?

Park and Ride

Council gave park and ride passes to employees of the new Seven Trent building meaning that there are fewer spaces for other people who want to use the park and ride and Memorial Park.

Ideas/Solution-Give the seven Trent employees more parking spaces elsewhere?

People have trouble heating the post-war houses in Coventry

The possibility of green loans from local banks for people that live in these properties so people can make their houses more efficient.

Furthermore people need to be educated about how to use their controls so that they get the most out of their utilities for the least money possible.

Re-run school projects that taught children about energy within the household then there was a questionnaire that they had to fill out with their parents educating the parents and the children.

Grants from the Council for “hard to treat” properties.
Women do not feel safe in the open spaces in the Coventry area; they are dirty, not child-friendly.

Need to do more to stop people dog-fouling, make sure that the dog waste bins are cleared out more regularly. Possibly make one area for children and have a separate area for dogs so that the area for children is kept clean.

Need to encourage people to change their lifestyles as well as businesses to make Coventry more “green”.

Should encourage women especially to train in new green technologies so that they can develop skills that will be useful and stop them from being marginalised.

People dumping rubbish in inappropriate places.

Fly tipping should be made more affordable and people should be made more away of recycle exchange programmes in their area. Need more advertising about the good schemes that people could use.


Children and Young People

The priorities set by the Coventry Partnership are:

  • Encourage children and young people to participate in wider school and community activities
  • Reduce persistent absence and exclusion rates in schools
  • Narrow the gap in educational and health outcomes for children in need e.g. disabled children, looked after children, newly arrived young people and young carers
  • Improve educational standards at ages 7,11, and 16
  • Overcome barriers to learning for underachieving individuals, groups and schools
  • Improve standards and choice of learning for children and young people
  • Provide parenting and family support, including early intervention and preventative work
  • Improve the assessments, placements and overall outcomes for looked after children (looked after by local authority)

The priorities set by the group are:

  • Protect services within children’s centres, the Council should do a gender impact assessment whenever a service is due to be cut
  • Parents need better signposting to services and key people that will help identify choices/services available
  • Encourage young people to be members of decision making boards and organise an event for young people’s voices to be heard by children and young people’s services
  • Coventry women’s voices should include young women on its board. Services such as valley house could bridge the gap between Coventry women’s voices and young people.

Points from discussion

The group was concerned that there will be cuts in services for children and young people. In particular preventative work is under threat as a result of the cuts. There was concern about the impact of the dissolution of services and the inefficiency of the services that exist.

The group also concluded that many of the priorities identified by the Coventry Partnership are school focussed yet there are other areas of childhood that should be considered.

 

It is assumed that knowing how to parent is innate/already understood and known but new parents. This results in a lack of guidance and information in this sector.

Women need support in the early days of motherhood.

Positive parenting programmes are vulnerable because of the cuts and strategies of crisis management appear to be favoured over prevention.

Demonizing young women who wish to be parents by suggesting contraception as the only option.

There is a need to challenge the notion of mother as primary carer. The role that fathers can play in family and childcare could be facilitated by longer paternity leave

Free childcare for (3 year olds) at risk as result of the spending cuts. This lack of childcare combined with cuts in welfare can lead to a downward spiral that is difficult to break from.

The stigma attached to being a stay-at-home mother needs to be challenged.

Priorities and concerns:

Support for children with disabilities as well as their families

Making clear where services are for particular needs

The group was concerned that some people experienced of being ‘passed around’ between services

Surestart: Is the government protecting sure start or trying to privatize aspects of it? The group valued the way in which Sure Start focuses on early prevention

Maternity services being outsourced

Market deciding the services provided for women and children rather than evidence

Parents need to be on the decision-making boards of children’s centres, making sure they realise the potential impact decisions have on women

Need to support changing definitions of gender roles

Are men in positions of power (majority) taking on board what women are saying? However, cannot stereotype or generalize, there are many men that are gender aware and women that are sexist

Women prevented from entering top jobs or achieving promotions as a result of the expectation they will inevitably start a family and either leave altogether or, at least, require maternity leave

How can we accept young women’s views and increase their power and influence?

Minimum wage for young people an insult and unnecessary, especially when more often than not paying full adult prices for things

Sexual harassment of girls in schools

Myth of male underachievement in schools – differences more classed than gendered?

Political inclusion of young women as well as young men

The large gaps between adult-based groups and young people’s groups mean that young people are going unheard

Age bracket of approximately 16-25 year olds are being excluded, classified as neither an adult nor child


Housing

 

The priorities set by the Coventry Partnership are:

  • Increase the supply and choice of housing across all tenures
  • Prevent homelessness and respond to housing need
  • Ensure that housing services contribute towards meeting the needs of local people
  • Maximise vulnerable people’s ability to live independently
  • Improve the quality and use of existing housing

The priorities set by the group are:

  • Continue to improve the quality of the private rented sector
  • Make housing benefits process more efficient
  • More homeless prevention work.
  • Educate and promote council housing services, including working with schools on housing options

Points from discussion

The group discussed the fact that women are more likely to live in affordable housing; be in poverty and place importance on location due to caring responsibilities.

The national Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR), recently published by the new coalition government, would have a significant impact on the availability of housing in the city.

Due to women’s greater reliance on affordable housing, housing benefit and the greater importance of location for women, it was noted that they would be disproportionately affected by these changes.

The concerns raised by women who participated in the housing discussion were as follows:

  • Many people in the city are living in sub-standard accommodation but are unable to hold their landlords to account. Single women, lone parents (mainly women) and people claiming asylum are more likely to experience this because of increased fears about eviction, language barriers, violence and lack of appropriate support.  It was noted that most landlords were male.
  • Many people also experience unacceptable levels of noise or anti-social behaviour in or around their properties but were not receiving support to improve this.
  • If there is a greater reliance on private lettings, following government spending cuts to affordable housing.
  • Young pregnant women are being housed in very unsuitable areas that can increase their isolation, prevent social mobility and lower their enjoyment and quality of life.
  • Young women who are in desperate need of housing often do not have the bond needed to rent a property.
  • Cuts to social services and rising rates of unemployment will result in larger numbers of young people becoming homeless in the city.

Some of the solutions identified to address these problems were:

  • Ensure that it remained a priority to improve the quality of existing housing, especially in the private rented sector.
  • Promote council housing services, including the private sector team (who can take complaints and prosecute poor landlords).
  • Introduce a bond scheme to help young people and those without existing funds to rent a property.
  • Invest more in intervention and mediation to prevent household breakdown and homelessness for young people.
  • Protect and prioritise existing schemes for vulnerable women.
  • Re-introduce housing education for year 11s via citizenship classes in school.


Transport

The priority issues set by Coventry Partnership are:

  • Reduce the CO2 emissions due to transport
  • Ensure that the transport infrastructure, especially public transport is able to cope with planned growth in the city
  • Make services, shops, healthy food and employment more accessible
  • Improve perceptions about safety of travelling by public transport, by bicycle or on foot and maintain the City’s low rates of road traffic accidents
  • Continue to improve the quality of Coventry’s public transport services

The priorities set by the group are:

  • Safety – particularly for women travelling at night
  • Make public transport more women friendly
  • Encourage walking
  • Policies to encourage cycling aimed at women as well as men to address the reasons why women don’t cycle

Points from discussion

Public transport

The group identified public transport as a key issue for women. Men are more likely to use a family car in order to get to work and women are more likely than men to use public transport. Women are also more likely to be responsible for decisions about how and whether their children use public transport

Particular problems for women are:

  • Safety (see below)
  • Buses not arriving on time, and inaccurate information given. For example someone in the group had to wait an hour and 5 minutes for a bus which was supposed to be running every 20 minutes. There may be no bus-timetable at a bus-stop or it may be misleading. There was a need to improve information about timetables etc with information at bus stops, on the side of buses, on an accessible website and so on.
  • Bus routes that do not meet women’s needs for example no links between schools, places of employment, health care centres e.g. GPs
  • Lack of sufficient space for wheelchair users and pushchairs. Wheelchair users face major difficulties despite the increase in access and facilities. There is never going to be enough space for wheelchair users along with pushchair users.
  • Customers think bus services are running services which are too short, or do not run at the times of day they need, yet bus companies state that if there are insufficient passengers to fund a service then it cannot be run.
  • Centro subsidise west midlands travel services and already have a huge input in terms of transport over the west midlands. There are consultation meetings but women need more notice in order to attend. Centro have a Warwick student representative but the group were not sure if there was a representative from Coventry University.
  • A bus quality contract could be a way forward for improving bus services.
  • The group raised health and safety issues on public transport including smoking on buses, vandalism and other damage and the use of CCTV.

The group identified some specific problems with local services including:

  • Allesley Village is isolated and is too far to walk from buses
  • There is a very large church located within Allesley hotel on a Sunday which a large amount of Coventry and Warwick students and also a large number of public attend – there is not a bus available to get anyone there on time! There is a minibus which the church provides however it cannot cater for all

It was suggested that students could put together a business case to get subsidised bus to church on a Sunday!

Cycling

A policy to increase cycling for women and not just men was suggested. The cycle users group is male dominated and does not address issues of women cycling. Many women are too scared to cycle anywhere due to bus and car behaviour

Bike facilities on public transport is a major difficulty although there have been some improvements with the design of fold up bikes and specific designated areas from bike users on trains

Walking

Encouraging walking to and from places would help reduce unnecessary driving. However policies to encourage walking on the school run often fail because women have to go on to work, or to the shops, or to other caring responsibilities straight from dropping their children off. The journey to school may be short but it is the start of a series of other journeys a woman has to make that day.

Safety

Women travelling at night are in danger, yet women are not specifically on the agenda of Transport theme groups.

Women travelling at night are concerned about unsupportive drivers. An example was given of an 18 year old school girl who was thrown off the bus at 8.30pm due to the bus driver saying her bus ticket was invalid. She had purchased a £250 Uni rider ticket which was still in date. The bus driver drove off leaving her in an unknown area. This sort of story puts women off using public transport.

Women were concerned about using subways late at night from bus stops. The group suggested amending routes and consideration of pedestrian pathways from bus stops in order to increase safety and reduce women’s fear of crime.

Reducing car use

The group recognised the need to reduce car use and increase use of public transport, walking and cycling. There were particular issues preventing women using other forms of transport (see above). In addition to addressing these issues the group suggested general strategies including:

  • Changing the public perception on public transport
  • Bikeability cycle training programme in schools
  • Walk to school weeks
  • Cycling schemes
  • Reward schemes
  • Safety lessons
  • Reducing costs of buses for school children


Culture sports and physical activity

 

The priorities set by the Coventry Partnership are:

  • Make the city centre a vibrant cultural centre
  • Develop local cultural and creative industries
  • Improve equality of access so that all communities can participate in cultural, sports and physical activities
  • Raise Coventry’s cultural profile and reputation with local communities, visitors and tourists
  • Increase participation and volunteering in cultural, sports and physical activities

 

The priorities set by the group are:

  • More accessible sports activities for women, taking into account cost, timing and awareness
  • Integrate cultural diversity through community festivals
  • Help isolated women access low cost or no cost venues
  • Improve city centre including promoting park and ride and addressing the barrier of the ring road and subways.

 

Points from discussion

 

Sport

Sports Centre has few women only facilities- when they make facilities available to women it’s under the assumption that women are unemployed – the opening times for ‘women only’ facilities are always in the day time. There is also a need for more advertisement of ‘women only’ sessions (some in the group where unaware they were in operation)

Fitness first is inaccessible (it is upstairs) for those with mobility issues (disabled, elderly) and it is expensive.

Sports centres are too expensive and not clean, they are too dirty to want to go to (particularly the Foleshill Leisure Centre)

Need activities for children during school holidays.

Should be free taster sessions for women in sports activities

Regenerating the city centre

Having a vibrant city is a great aspiration but women won’t go there unless it feels safe. The underpasses are a barrier and put people off going into the city centre. Also the city centre is too quiet and feels unsafe…

Some of the old buildings aren’t being developed and are just boarded up. They could become cultural centres or something they are wasted, for example the Law courts.

The city’s layout is bad for women’s safety. There are not clear routes through it so you end up having to go unusual and (potentially dangerous) routes home. Plus there is nothing in the centre to make it urban or populated at night or in the day, it’s so spread out, town becomes isolated at night, the bars are at a separate end of town to the shops. Need more police at night, or at least more patrols at night, Lights in underpasses

Shopping Centre not sufficient for women and to buy clothes in, Coventry is full of pound shops and nothing else. There is no cultural or heritage shops, what shops are there are limited- need more choice.

More restaurants needed – decent ones where you can sit down and have a meal with your family

Coventry needs a complete rebuild; A new City Centre plan. People were unsure what is happening with the City Centre Master Plan and presuming it will not go ahead.

The city would benefit too through increased tourism (some suggestion that it was once very popular to visit due to the cathedral etc) it’s a shame it has been lost. There is no coach park so groups or church groups don’t visit anymore. Must get rid of the stigma attached to Coventry. It needs the facilities to allow tourism- the ring road puts people off it needs ‘park and rides’ if the ring road stays.

Parking is insufficient; it gets too full- some people who possess free passes to park cannot because they are full.

Council website- does it advertise sufficiently to bring tourists in?

Cultural activities

The group suggested a Food festival – to incorporate the diversity of Coventry. There was a lot of enthusiasm for doing this from the Somali women’s organisation and others who felt a city wide women’s food festival could bring women from all backgrounds together and provide opportunities for new connections to be made, particularly for those communities where women tend not to get involved in activities that involve men.

Desire for businesses to get ACTIVELY not passively involved in local events such as the multicultural festival. One idea was to take community cultural / arts activities into the city centre and ask businesses to join in with putting on events (not just asking for sponsorship), this could create a real buzz in the city centre and attract

Council website- is there any place to advertise your local areas activities?

Need to integrate different cultures more

Accessibility for women

Women need childcare in the evening otherwise can’t take advantage of facilities like sports centres or cultural activities

More information about what funding is available for women’s’ support groups.

Limited access to transport for disabled people

Coventry Women’s Voices would like to thank:

Coventry City Council and in particular Surindar Nagra for all their help in making this event possible.

Coventry Partnership for their support for the event

Celia Rose, Clare Stone, Emma Duckley, Hannah Kitcher, Kate Rhule, Lucy Hayton, Monika Chadaj and Rachel Pardner for taking notes in the discussion groups

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