Having a great night out with mates old and new is always fun - but it's important to make sure that everyone stays safe. Here are our top tips on how to look after yourself and your friends when you're out and about this January welcome!
Welcome from Your Students' Union! Whether you are returning from a well deserved break, or are a new arrival to the University, a new year and a new start in your learning journey is something to celebrate! Welcome is a time for settling in, catching up with old friends and making new ones too. But whilst enjoying all the fun times it is always important to remember safety, be it yours or other peoples. Read on for everything you need to know to ensure that your January welcome is the safest it can be.
How can I look out for myself?
Stay Alert: Welcome can mean large crowds of partying students -creating the ideal environment for opportunist criminals to steal possessions and cause harm. Be particularly careful if carrying things like your phone, money and bank cards when you are out and about. Keep all valuables close and out of sight in either a secure pocket or zipped up bag worn across the body. Never leave bags, coats or uncovered drinks unattended. Turning away from your glass/open bottle for a second leaves it open to being spiked with drugs or unwanted alcohol. This could mean you are suddenly not in control of your situation, leaving you very vulnerable. Leave all your things with someone you trust if you need to step away briefly.
Stay Together: sharing the moment with others is not only more fun but much safer too. Try to travel to your destination with a friend or group of friends if possible – especially if you will be walking in the dark. Stay with your friends whilst out, or arrange a specific meeting place to find them if you accidently split up. Try to also go home with your friends, or text them/get them to text you when home if you end up leaving at different times.
Stay Seen: British winter means shorter days and longer nights. A 4pm sunset will increase the likelihood of you having to travel around outside in the dark. Where possible plan your routes to and from your destination to include places that have good streetlighting or are likely to be busy. If you can’t plan ahead, make sure to always stay alert and stick to well lit areas. If you are new to the area, take some time to familiarise yourself before exploring.
For even more tips and tricks, you can check out Your SU's Safer Nights Out campaign.
How can others look out for me?
Following the guidance above means you will be doing all you can to keep yourself safe. But taking responsibility isn’t always that simple. It is an unfortunate societal fact that sometimes, through no fault of their own, people can find themselves a target of threatening and criminal behaviour. If the worst has happened to you, never stay silent and internalise your experiences. You deserve support and there are lots of places you can (and should) get it.
A helping hand from your protection team: did you know, if you are on Coventry campus you can call for help when you need it most? The SafeZone app gives you fast access to University security response teams whenever and wherever you are on campus. Just head to your device's app store and download SafeZone.
Work with your Uni to call out harassment. Harassment is not OK, and we all have a duty to help stop it. If you are experiencing harassment or suspected hate crime of any kind, or are witness to someone else’s experience, please reach out to your University’s Health and Wellbeing team through the Harassment reporting tool. They can provide you with emotional support and guidance as well as making you aware of and supporting you through all the options available to you.
Call on the community. If you are feeling unsafe in a pub or bar and need a subtle way to communicate this, ask a member of bar staff if you can “speak to Angela.” This is a universally recognised signal as part of the ‘ask for Angela safety initiative’ and will enable a trained member of staff to help you reunite with your friends or call a safe licenced taxi.
Use technology. There are a few apps you can download to call upon if you are in trouble. What3Words is a location app that can pinpoint exactly where you are on a 3 metre square that it will label with three unique words. It can be used by the emergency services to help speed up the process of finding people who need them. Hollie Guard is also an app you can use when traveling off campus. It allows you to set a start and end point and will alert your chosen contacts if you don’t reach your destination by a certain point.
Of course, if you ever find yourself in an emergency situation, 999 is the number to call.
How can I look out for others?
If you are out and witness someone in trouble, you may want to check if they’re OK - especially if you're looking to make friends. It’s true that as a witness to an incident you could play a key role in calming harmful situations and making spaces safer for your friends and the public. This is called ‘bystander intervention’. However, this should only be considered in situations where you are able to assess whether it is safe to intervene and can act responsibly while doing so. If you want to find out more on how to be a good bystander, check out the Suzy Lamplugh Trust’s free one hour webinar sessions on how to safely stand up against street harassment.
Always remember to have fun, stay safe, and most importantly, seek support! You are never alone.