“I hope this guide, with its tips and advice on how to feel safe on the inside, and the outside, goes some way to meet the needs of those who feel effected by mental and physical threats within society. It’s not a solution to a systemic problem but a guide written in solidarity with women, girls and non-binary people.” Ali Baskerville founder of ROAAAR
By Us, For You is a feminist survival guide created by women*, girls and non-binary people from Sandwell. It contains their contributions and stories about what it means to be safe and an instructional guide to essential self-defence moves. It is informed by a creative programme delivered during 2020 and 2021 by ROAAAR, a personal safety initiative that focuses on nurturing emotional and physical resilience; Blossoms Self-Defence; and Multistory.
* This term is inclusive of all who identify as women, including trans, cis and femme.
How did we create the guide?
The project was informed by ROAAAR, a personal safety initiative for women, girls and non-binary people that focuses on nurturing emotional and physical resilience through online and in-person self-defence workshops. Multistory collaborated with Ali Baskerville, artist and founder of ROAAAR to co-create a programme of workshops for local residents, incorporating their self-defence practice and creative storytelling as a means of exploring what it means to be safe.
The online sessions with Multistory gave us a chance to keep checking in with people over COVID-19 where our situations became different; where people used to feel safe has now changed, and that’s the issue with how we feel safe, it’s often fluid. By keeping in touch with people over the lockdown we were hoping to keep that connection and also to help them think about where they might feel safe, and some of the coping strategies they could put in place.” Ali Baskerville
What can you find in the guide?
This guide includes contributions and stories from people who took part in the workshops and some photographs of them which you will find interwoven with other content. There are written pieces by local creatives; an instructional guide to practical survival skills written by Ali Baskerville and Fatima Ben; resources from local community organisations; and hand-drawn illustrations by Byng. Themes in people’s stories range from the empowering daily practice of creativity (gardening, art and craft making, cooking), freedom found through sexual expression and the importance of self-love, boundaries and time for yourself. Many times, people spoke of how they found power, safety and healing in community, in the support of friends and family.
Where can I read the guide?
The printed guide will be gifted by Multistory to project participants, local libraries and community centres and via ROAAAR workshops and will be available to everyone as a free, downloadable PDF.
The guide was launched in November 2021 at Bearwood Community Hub, where community members and participants collected their copy of the printed guide, shared food and took part in creative activities, with a performance by poet Jasmine Gardosi.
The online guide will launch on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on 25 November 2021, and Multistory and ROAAAR will share content throughout the 16 Days of Activism. You can join Ali Baskerville from ROAAAR at an online reading session on 29 November 2021, at 6.30pm. Sign up via our events page.
Thanks To Our Fantastic Collaborators
Participants: Assma, Bally, Dorota, Ekhlass, Esther, Fatima, Jackie, Jean, Kate, Kelly, Khalida, Leonie, Louise, Lorna, Pauline, Perm, Sandra, Sozan, Trish Additional Contributors: Danni Ebanks-Ingram, Ela Stapley, Jasmine Gardosi
Personal Safety Guide: Ali Baskerville + Fatima Ben Illustration + Design: Byng
Photographic Portraits: Ali Baskerville
Thanks also to all those who took part in workshops and contributed their drawings or collages and to MotherShip Projects, Sandwell Visually Impaired and Kelly’s group at Sandwell Youth Service. Thank you to Sandwell Council and Arts Council England for their continued support of Multistory and to The Roger & Douglas Turner Charitable Trust for the project grant.
Alison Baskerville is a documentary photographer and artist. A former-soldier-turned-artist, Alison has a rare insight into gender and conflict. She has the desire and capacity to make work that reflects on important contemporary issues such as gender equality, military occupation, female identity in the forces, and the long-term consequences of armed conflict.
ROAAAR is a personal safety training initiative that gives basic and easy to use tools to help you feel safe. Founder Alison Baskerville set up ROAAAR to provide basic personal safety sessions to womxn and non-binary people in Birmingham following the annual festival Powering the Matriarchy Together (P.M.T). Since then, they have developed two strands of our work which focus on community safety workshops as well as safety sessions for the media. They have facilitated a number of personal safety and self-defence sessions for World Press Photo, Women for Women (UK).