Stay Safe While Socialising

From an all-day brunch to a quick coffee after lectures, or an afternoon movie screening to a big night out – there are many different ways to enjoy spending time with friends. What makes these things even more enjoyable is knowing that you are doing everything you can to keep yourself safe while you’re out and about in public. The tips, tricks, and links to further support on this page will help you make sure you’re keeping yourself as safe as possible when traveling and socialising.

Your Students' Union Advice Service is a free, independent and confidential service for all students.

Be prepared

  • Take what you need: if you’re going to be spending lots of time in a crowded place, it’s good to get into the habit of only taking what you need with you. Not only does it mean less to carry around, being weighed down by unnecessary valuable items or large amounts of cash makes you more attractive to opportunist thieves. Pick pockets are quick and sneaky and can often steal stuff from you without you even noticing. To make this harder for them, keep all valuable items in close contact to you, in a secure bag or pocket. Have access to a small amount of money in a separate secure place so that, whatever may happen, you’ll always have funds to get yourself home.
  • Consider a personal alarm: day or night, one accessory we would always recommend you take with you is a personal safety alarm. These alarms can help you alert people around you to the fact you need their help in an emergency. Personal safety alarms are small devices (usually similar in appearance and size to a keychain) and most often use a pin that you pull to activate them. This will cause the alarm to make an extremely loud noise (often even louder than a police siren!) that can frighten away the person/people who mean you harm and get the attention of people nearby that could help you. Personal safety alarms come in a few different types, including ones that double as torches, ones that can attach to your
  • Charge and use your phone: your phone is your life, right? When you’re out and about it can help you find your way around, get and keep in touch with the people you are with and help you look up that last bus home. So, before you leave for a day or night out, always check you’ve got enough battery to last you. Did you know? You can also program specific ‘in case of emergency’ (ICE) details into your phone, including important medical information and contacts who you would want to be alerted in an emergency. ICE helps people, including medical professionals, know who they should contact and how they should help if you are ever found unresponsive or are unable to give them that information yourself. Apple and Android have various emergency settings so be sure to check them out and use them for an extra level of protection.
  • Plan your journey home: if you are on a day or night out in an unfamiliar place, or you expect to be back home late, make sure you plan how you’re going to get home in advance. Check and set an alarm for those last bus and train times, check out where official taxi ranks are or have Uber ready. It’s a good idea to book travel in advance wherever possible, that way you can relax, knowing exactly how you will be getting home safely. Booking in advance can sometimes save you money too.

Look out for each other

  • Stay together: If you are socialising in a group, make sure you stay together where you can and ensure no one is left on their own. If you are somewhere big, busy, noisy, or unfamiliar, try and identify a meeting place where you can go and find your friends if you get lost. If you’re on a night out and need to walk home in the dark, try to walk home with the people you went out with wherever possible.
  • Stay in touch: On a night out, if you are going out in a group, make sure you have the numbers of the people in that group, or have them in a WhatsApp group before you go out so that it’s easier to stay in touch if you get split up. If you think you will be back late, or coming home in the dark, you might consider letting a trusted person who is not going out with you know what time you plan to be home, so someone is there to check in with you if you don’t turn up or raise the alarm if you’re not there and can’t be contacted.
  • Stay alert: Going out with your friends should be fun and enjoyable. Part of making sure things stay this way is being alert to your surroundings for the safety of yourself, your friends, and others around you. Using drugs or drinking too much alcohol can impair both your judgement and ability to stay focused, making you more vulnerable. If you are with friends who end up being impaired by drink or drugs, be sure to look out for them too. If you are out and see someone you don’t know who appears to be lost or struggling, consider being an active bystander by alerting someone who can help and, if it’s safe, checking to see if the person is OK. If you are on a night out and find yourself alone in a secluded, dark, or quiet place, try not to distract yourself by staring at your phone or having your headphones in.

Safe travel

  • Walking: If you have to walk home in the dark, stick to well-lit main roads and visible walking routes - avoid canals and bodies of water. Always walk on a footpath where possible. If not possible, make sure you are walking facing any oncoming traffic to give drivers more of a chance of seeing you. If it is day or night, always stay vigilant around cars. It is true that you have the priority as a pedestrian when crossing designated crossings or side roads, but the area is a lot greyer when using shared spaces or if you are walking in the road. It is your responsibility to always check around you before stepping out into a place where there may be cars. Never cross between parked cars, behind a reversing car or in front of a car that has its engine running unless you are sure that all drivers around you have seen you and are waiting for you. Never assume a car will stop for you.
  • Taxi: if you think it is likely you will need to get home from your day or night out by taxi, we recommend pre-booking with a reputable company or app where possible. If the taxi home is a last-minute decision, then use Uber with the tracking facility or grab a cab from a designated taxi rank. Look out for the red flags of an unlicenced vehicle posing as a taxi. These include claiming to be a taxi but then unable to display or show you a taxi licence or ID badge, driving a vehicle that is dirty, damaged, or obviously old or not looked after and having a driver that doesn’t know where they are going or doesn’t appear to know the area well. Always remember: no journey is too short to take by taxi.
  • Public transport: if you are using public transport to get yourself safely home after a day or night out, be sure to save bus/train timetables on your phone and set an alarm so you don't miss your last one! If you are getting a bus late at night and it is dark or quiet, always sit near the driver to ensure your safety.

More Resources and Support

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