By Kai Wei Cheng
Over 50 people showed up in full support of the women’s only swimming sessions at Colchester Leisure World on Sunday the 11th of February.
Members of the Colchester Citizens Alliance- the local branch of Citizens UK who organises communities to act together for power, social justice and the common good- gathered the supporters right before the front doors to Colchester Leisure World (CLW) where they campaigned for truly women’s only swim sessions.
CLW currently provides women’s only swim sessions where male lifeguards are oftentimes on shift. There is also no single-gendered changing room, and neither is there an allocated time for women only to use them. These issues were brought up to Citizens Alliance in early December 2017 and they have been working together to find a compromise with CLW since then.
The campaign on the 11th of February brought people from 8 of the different organizations that are involved where they sang and shared their stories behind why they supported this cause. With Valentine’s Day just a few days away, campaigners took it a step further and filled a giant Valentine’s Day card with the reasons that they love CLW, gifting it to Councillor Annie Feltham of the Colchester Borough Council and CLW.
“It is a positive action as we want to keep a good relationship with [Colchester Leisure World.” Says Yasmin Abdullah, the current VP International of the Essex Student’s Union.
When asked about the turnout, Yasmin says that they had not been expecting the number of people who showed up in genuine support. “By connecting all of the people together, it truly shows that it’s a community effort [with the high turnout].”
“I was fascinated by the large number of people who were present to raise their voice for a single cause. The message that I learned from this campaign is that the best way to raise an issue is to raise it through love and positivity.” Says Anis Rezaei, a first year Economics and Politics student at the University of Essex.
“This campaign made me realize that although we hold different backgrounds and different cultures we are interconnected through our shared social concerns that enable us to present and celebrate our diversity by means of staying united and supportive [of each other].”
The campaign asks for a “truly women’s only swim sessions- not just women only in the pool but also female lifeguards, female-only changing rooms, and only female spectators allowed” as stated on the Colchester Citizens Alliance Facebook page (facebook.com/citizenscolchester/).