What is the project about?

We want to find out what women and girls think makes parks feel safe or unsafe places to visit, and what might make parks feel safer and more welcoming places.

To do this, we are interviewing a diverse sample of women and girls of different ages (16+) and backgrounds across West Yorkshire. We are also running 10 listening groups with teenage girls (13-17 years old).

Further, we are interviewing professionals involved in making strategic and everyday decisions in the design, management and community safety of parks in West Yorkshire.

Our research aims to identify shared viewpoints as well as divergence in views, both among women and girls and with professionals, combined with rich descriptions by our interviewees of their views on park safety.

What is our research approach, and what might it find out?

Our research uses Q methodology to explore the views of women and girls in West Yorkshire towards what makes parks feel safe and unsafe to visit.

Q methodology is a qualitative and quantitative method which can be used to identify the range of viewpoints that exist around a topic or idea. Q methodology will help us to find out where there is consensus or divergence in views, what variation exists, and what issues are relatively more important to perceptions of safety.

Interviewees will be asked to sort approximately 50 statements about what makes parks feel safe and unsafe and organise these on a grid into statements that are ‘most like my point of view’ and statements that are ‘most unlike my point of view’, followed by a post Q-sort semi-structured interview.

Factor analysis of the Q-sorted statements will generate clusters of views held by women and girls about park safety, and qualitative data from the interviewees gathered whilst they discuss sorting the statements and in the post-sort interview will deepen and enrich understanding of the reasons for their views.

Who is doing the research?

Anna Barker and George Holmes from the University of Leeds are leading this project.

The research is being conducted with the support of four research fellows/assistants, including: Sally Osei-Appiah, Sibylla Warrington-Brown, Lauren Cape-Davenhill and Rizwana Alam.

We are working with West Yorkshire Combined Authority on this project along with women’s groups in each West Yorkshire district. More information can be found here about the wider Safer Streets Fund project for which the research forms part of: £655,000 secured to improve safety for women and girls – West Yorkshire Combined Authority (

The research is part of a wider project aimed at improving the safety of parks in West Yorkshire funded by the Home Office who have made funding available to improve the safety of public spaces for women and girls.