And the award goes to… GFS Bishop Auckland!

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On Wednesday 3 November 2021, GFS Bishop Auckland (AYCC) won NE Youth’s Action of the Year Award for their girls’ safety campaign, Lights for Nights. This original campaign is a for-girls, by-girls action, led by three of the outstanding members of this GFS group. The campaign was funded by the Rosa Trust through GFS and supported by Group Coordinator, Erin, and Maxine at the youth centre. 

What is Lights for Nights?

There are two main parts to the campaign, one targeting streetlights in Bishop Auckland, and one raising awareness on girls’ safety. On top of that, this campaign gives girls a voice by showing them what they can achieve and how to do it.  

“They came up with the idea on their own, and it was very much a girls’ led campaign with support,” Group Coordinator, Erin explains. 

While the campaign prioritises girls’ safety, it is truly positive for the entire community. As part of their plan, the Lights for Nights girls put together safety packs, which included: a flyer about the campaign, reflective material that could be placed on clothing or bags, a torch, reflective snap bands, and information about what girls could do in their areas.  

Erin says the change in the girls has been huge. She says Chloe, one of the three lead girls, was shy in the beginning, but has since come out of her shell doing Zoom calls with girls across GFS north east. While we are only sharing details about Chloe, as she is now 18, all members of the campaign were involved in teaching about night-time safety and showing girls at GFS Chester-Le-Street and GFS Pittington how to run their own campaigns.  

“I think that it’s really important to talk about not simply just the campaign, but also the change in the girls, because of doing the campaign was massive,” Group Coordinator, Erin Convery points out.

Why Lights for Nights?

The simplest answer is – because it affects them. Since their council has changed the street lights to energy saving bulbs, the girls have felt increasingly concerned for their safety. While the idea of energy saving lightbulbs may look good on paper, the reality for our girls is, these lightbulbs aren’t working.  

One GFS girl said her grandmother now has to walk her dog with a torch in areas where there were streetlights, while campaigner, Chloe, expressed feeling scared going home from school. 

“When I get home from college on a night, it’s dark already because I don’t get home till half five or six o’clock, and it’s scary,” Chloe said. “We realised around the youth club and around where we live there’s not a lot of street lights, and there’s a lot of older people where we live and younger children who like going out, and it’s just dark.” 

Thanks to funding from Rosa Trust, GFS group coordinator, Erin, who has a history running campaigns, was able to show the AYCC girls how to take their plans off the ground. While the topic is one that affects the entire community, this campaign is still very much about the girls.  


Time restraints and Covid restrictions held the girls back in some ways, but their achievements are still huge. Although the physical streetlights haven’t changed yet, they have received a positive response.  

During the funded period, the girls started a petition, receiving quite a positive response from their MP. Erin says the MP was really for the campaign and petition, and that while there’s still work to be done, she believes there’s plenty of room for them to pick their campaign up. 

In the future, the girls would like to talk to local businesses and speak to more people directly. And while they did speak to some people in their area about the lights, Chloe mentions that she would have really wanted to do more of that, creating videos and images showing the huge impact the lighting has on their community.  

Chloe is now 18 and is moving over to the volunteer side of things at GFS. We’re absolutely certain that Chloe will continue to be a positive figure for the younger girls in her community. And Chloe’s final message to girls looking to start their own campaign is one we can really get behind:

“Get the support around you and get the group and just do it. Just go for it, it’s great and if you can get the message out there, it could help a lot of people,” Chloe said.

Lights for Nights has been a huge starting point for the girls in many different ways – they learned something about themselves, how to speak out, and gave others the tools to make it happen as well. We can’t wait to see what these outstanding young women do next. 

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