'Sarah's tree': Tree in Edinburgh covered with ribbons and messages in tribute to Sarah Everard
A tree named ‘Sarah’s tree’ has been covered in ribbons, messages and flowers in Edinburgh to pay tribute to 33-year-old Sarah Everard who went missing after walking home from a friend’s house in London.
Messages such as “She was just walking home,” individual cards for Sarah and ribbons inscribed with “Reclaim Our Streets”decorate the branches of a tree beside Jawbone Walk in the Meadows.
Bouquets of flowers have also been laid at the bottom of the tree which had a sign reading ‘Sarah’s tree’ at its centre.
The “solidari-tree” was created by students at the University of Edinburgh and flatmates Martha Reilly, 23, and Imogen Luczyc-Wyhowska, 21, after they found out that they could not attend an in-person vigil for Sarah Everard.
Imogen said: “We wanted a place to be a memorial and what needs to change in our public spaces in major cities across the whole of the UK.
“It’s for Sarah but also all the people who feel unsafe in Edinburgh”
"We wanted to tackle ‘the roots’ of gender-based violence in Edinburgh.” Martha said.
Imogen added: "Pretty much all Edinburgh women students get told ‘don’t cross through the Meadows at night’ because of the history of gender-based violence and poorly lit pathways.
"There’s a huge stigma around the meadows so it felt like a really apt place because it’s such a community driven area.”
Martha added: “I think we see the limits of social media activism and we think it’s still important to have things in person.
"Seeing all the hundreds of people who have tied ribbons- there’s this real introspective moment of feeling a one-ness with everyone else who has tied a ribbon.”
"Our slogan is ‘Our parks, our bodies’ because in doing that you are laying claim to a physical space and your right to exist in that space safely.”
The two women have so far raised £240 on their Just Giving ‘Sarah’s Tree’ page for Shakti Women’s Aid which offers help for black minority ethnic (BME) women, children and young people who are experiencing, or who have experienced, domestic abuse.
"We wanted choose somewhere local to speak to the community and so we could directly create an impact.” said Imogen, "So many women did see themselves in Sarah Everard’s story but when you look at the full picture of gender-based violence in the UK, especially in light of Black Lives Matter, it’s important to recognise that people of colour do experience a difference in barriers in relation to accessing services and so we really wanted to support this charity in particular as they really are doing phenomenal work for people of colour in Edinburgh.”
The memorial site in Edinburgh follows UK-wide mourning for 33-year-old marketing executive Sarah Everard, who went missing on March 3 in Clapham, south London after walking home from a friend’s house. She was brutally murdered by a police officer.
Both Martha and Imogen hope ‘solidari-trees’ will be set up across the whole of the UK.
"Our plan for the future is to encourage other people to set up their own ‘Sarah’s tree.’”
They have so far seen these trees set up in Manchester, Newcastle and London.