A GROUP of women from Colchester have decided to join forces to stand up against the increasing levels of violence, harassment and attacks on females in the town over recent months and years.

Having got to the point where many women are scared to go outside alone unless they have their rape alarm, flashlight and mobile phones, they have very quickly amassed a following of thousands social media.

They recognise that the reality for many women every single day - going to work, meeting with friends to socialise, pursuing a hobby - is to have to be prepared for an unprovoked attack at any moment.

These are women you know - family members, colleagues, friends - this is happening on our own doorstep, and Eye of Boudica has been formed to acknowledge, understand and address the problem.

Rebekah Wallace-Brown and Elaine Jiggins from Caffé Sala began a conversation about what could be done about this horrific situation and Eye of Boudica was that answer.

Rebekah founded a Feminist Society at Colchester Sixth Form College and was both disgusted and horrified at the first-hand accounts of her female students.

Elaine has female employees who have been followed home from work, and she herself feels very vulnerable and intimidated just walking back to her car at the end of a busy day at work.

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From a casual conversation while waiting for a takeaway coffee, Eye of Boudica was born.

The goal is simple - to stand up to street harassment and to help Colchester women stay safer.

As if to demonstrate the prevalence of unwarranted harassment of the women of Colchester, the Facebook group and Instagram page gained more than 400 members in their first 72 hours.

The aim is to make women, girls and femme-presenting individuals feel safer.

Eye of Boudica has applied to Colchester BID for funding to get things up and running.

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There are plans to have the group’s logo made into window decals with willing businesses displaying them as a symbol of solidarity to the community - anyone who is being followed or harassed can go in and show them a card.

They can show it to whoever is working and know that they can either stay in the business until they feel safe or seek support and action where necessary.

The fantastic innovation has already garnered support from the local community, with the Anti-Loo Roll Brigade, Colchester Skate Girls, Ad Essex and Thames SCITT lending their voices and support to the cause.

Gazette: The Eye of Boudica logoThe Eye of Boudica logo

Eye of Boudica is considering the option of registering as a not-for-profit organisation and is receiving advice and guidance from education body Essex and Thames SCITT.

Once set up, the members will start looking to apply for more funding for future projects, one of which will be a night watch programme.

They are hoping to be able to work in partnership with the SOS bus, patrolling the town on weekend nights wearing high-vis vests to clearly identify their purpose – this is especially important in the less busy areas of the town. Volunteers for this would have to be 21, or 18 and with a parent.

As a woman who has been on the receiving end of an unprovoked attack while walking home in additional to regular harassment while simply walking down the street or jogging in Castle Park, Eye of Boudica brings me much peace of mind and restores my confidence in being able to go about my business feeling safe and protected.

As women it is about time we reclaimed the streets we live and work in and come together to help keep each other safe.

For more information of Eye on Boudica, contact eyeofboudica@hotmail.com or see its pages on Instagram and Facebook.