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1 NEWS Community: Wellington taxi driver making it her mission to provide safer transport for women

A safer transport option for Wellington women is a mission taxi driver Sophie Denman made hers after her own experience with sexual assault.

Sophie Denman’s female-focussed passenger service, Sophies Angels, was started after her own experience with sexual assault. Source: 1 NEWS

Last year Sophie Denman started female-focused passenger service Sophies Angels in a bid to make sure girls get home safe at night.

It was an idea grounded in Ms Denman's own experience with assault.

"I felt very ashamed about it and I didn't want to be able to call my family and get them to help me, and I was definitely not going to go to the emergency services, so I ended up getting stuck there.

"When I started this company it was really a lot about that, and being able to get girls out of that situation as quick as possible," Ms Denman told 1 NEWS.

Within a year the company has expanded to run practically 24/7, with three female drivers - which could soon become five - offering rides to anyone from university students to after-school pick-ups.

Ms Denman wants to be able to offer anyone a safe ride home, whilst offering competitive prices.

"We're trying to compete with Uber with the price range, as soon as Uber goes into any sort of surcharge we end up being the cheaper option.

"We did that because the time girls need a comfortable ride most, or the time anyone needs a comfortable ride most is late nights in town when suddenly is at 3x surcharge and to go up the road is going to cost you $40."

Sophies Angels prices are based on a kilometre rate and are pre-calculated, so passengers can use a trip calculator to determine an estimated cost.

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Thanks to Ms Denman, the capital is breaking ground with an independent initiative to get bar goers out of uncomfortable or unsafe circumstances.

It all starts with ordering an "angel shot".

It may sound like an alcoholic beverage, but it's actually a discreet call for help made to bar staff that is thought to have started in the United Kingdom.

"Maybe someone has just been a bit too flirtatious and they've been following you around a bit, which is making you feel uneasy.

"All the way to the extreme, 'I think I've been drugged or I have not had enough alcohol to feel as tipsy as I am'."

Bartenders are taught to evaluate the situation and provide help, or call the police if the codeword is said.

Ms Denman took the global initiative a step further with the launch of Angel Cards on the 22nd of May in Wellington.

"The Angel Cards is if it is that emergency situation, you would help your customer into the Sophies Angels vehicle and then hand the driver the card.

"It doesn't matter where this person is going; they will get a free ride all the way there and we will make sure they get into the house safely," said Ms Denman.

Seven bars, six of which come under Hospo Gurus management signed up to her Angel system, and she is now expected to launch the second round, with about 30 bars getting involved.

Ms Denman has already had contact from bars in the wider Wellington region wanting to get involved, and hopes in the next five years she’ll be able to take it nationwide.

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