Stepping up


Last year, April Mehmet founded Walk it Out, a project dedicated to empowering women in Redbridge. As the initiative grows, more female mentors are now needed in Wanstead to continue the mission

I am April Mehmet, founder of Walk it Out, which I created in 2021 to improve the health and well-being of females in Redbridge, to raise awareness, improve women’s safety and empower young girls and women to stand up for themselves at home and in public.

Since my last article in March, I went on to win a Redbridge Mayor’s Community Award, which was a very proud moment for me and inspired me to continue reaching out to local females. Walk it Out has gone on to provide a range of activities and support, from walking to picnics, coffee meets, trips, exercise classes and various workshops to empower and build confidence. We are very passionate about supporting the youth and allowing women to feel strong, and we are continuously campaigning to end male violence against young girls and women. Our mission is to strengthen the voices of females.

On 26 June, a woman was killed in Ilford. When I heard the tragic news, I thought enough is enough, this cannot be happening in my own area. I had to do something about it! So I called a protest to stop male violence against women, for our voices to be heard and for street harassment to become a criminal offence. I wanted to raise awareness by bringing the whole community together to show that when one young girl or woman gets hurt, it affects all of us. The next day I found out her name was Zara Aleena, and hundreds gathered for a vigil.

We should be able to walk anywhere, anytime, without the fear of being attacked. Why should we say “text me when you get home”? Why do we have to change our route or dress code so that we don’t get approached? Why do we have to watch our backs?

Every day, young girls and women face street harassment and violence in our own communities. No female should have to feel unsafe and we shouldn’t have to keep accepting this normalised behaviour.

Our protest was very empowering and the work behind the scenes continues. We work very closely with the council and the police to build community relationships and are continuously looking at ways to improve female safety. If you are passionate about making a difference in your community, we would love to hear from you as we have several volunteering roles available, and I would like to see more walks and other events in the Wanstead area.

I am currently working on a workshop to deliver to schools to raise awareness and teach key skills, from communication to confidence, as there needs to be more youth intervention with more positive role models in our communities. Everyone has a part to play; in the community, everyone needs to take responsibility for their own actions!

For more information on how you can support the Walk It Out initiative, call 07437 517 177 or visit wnstd.com/wio

Author: Editor