Demanding rooms of our own

Debra Oakaby meets campaigner Wendy Davis, who is determined to open a dedicated community space for women despite major setbacks

Rooms of our own

Wendy Davis, left, campaigning outside Walthamstow Central Station

Walthamstow Central Station on a cold Friday evening at rush hour is not a place to spend your free time without a compelling reason.

This is where I met Wendy Davis, a committed campaigner against women’s inequality, and her colleague, Silvana Gambini. They were collecting signatures for their petition, calling on Waltham Forest Council to debate the application to purchase St James Street car park for their Rooms of Our Own project.

Wendy explained that the lack of suitable, affordable and accessible premises for women to meet and get support, gave rise to this project in 2012. She says the intention is to use good-quality housing to fund a women’s centre, which would be financially self-sustaining.

The scheme has proved popular because of the social value it would add to the area.

An opportunity to purchase this site was offered by the council but later withdrawn; hence Wendy’s continued campaigning efforts.

According to Wendy: “The council has a wonderful opportunity to not only reverse the decline in women’s spaces, but to continue the regeneration of our borough with a landmark project of lasting value.”

Meeting Wendy, it is clear how deeply concerned she is about violence against girls and women, and not surprisingly she is a volunteer committee member of Waltham Forest Women’s Network (WFWN).

The council also wants to make Waltham Forest safer with its Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) strategy; citing domestic violence, sexual offences, prostitution and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) as prevailing issues.

It would appear that Wendy and the council have the same aim. Left with an architect’s plan of her vision and knowing the site is still empty, Wendy remains hopeful. However, she needs four thousand signatures from residents for the council to reconsider the matter, and is appealing for help to get them.

To sign the petition and for more information:




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