Volunteers To Patrol Durham River Bank

25 February 2015, 06:00 | Updated: 25 February 2015, 07:18

Around 50 Durham University students will be helping fellow students to stay safe as they take up their new roles as volunteers in Durham City Centre.

The initiative is one of a number of measures agreed by the Durham’s City Safety Group to address student safety and well-being. The scheme is a collaborative project involving Durham County Council, Durham Students’ Union and Durham University’s Student Community Action.

The pilot scheme will see volunteers cover different parts of the city with the aim of identifying people at risk. They will receive training on basic life-saving, manual handling, drug and alcohol awareness, personal safety, the law and water emergencies.

Each group will carry equipment such as radios connected to key city partners, first aid kit, water, foil blanket and torches - all of which have been provided by Durham County Council’s City Centre Manager. A place of safety has also been identified for vulnerable people; this is being equipped with mattresses, supplies and provisions and is being managed by the City Centre Manager.

Initially, the scheme will run for three Wednesdays from 25th February and each night three teams of four students plus a project leader and a member of University staff will patrol.

After the initial pilot, an assessment will take place and this will help shape a longer-term sustainable student volunteering programme.

Terry Collins, Chair of the City Safety Group said:
“This is one of a wide-ranging number of initiatives and schemes the group will oversee in response to concerns about safety in the city.

I am particularly pleased at the fantastic response to this initiative from the students themselves. More than 200 expressed an interest in getting involved.

I am sure this will make a very practical difference and will reassure many about the emphasis we put on maintaining and improving a safer city.”

Laura Carter, Community Officer at Durham Students’ Union said:
“The support among students for this has been outstanding, many students have signed up to be part of this worthwhile initiative to do what they can to help others.

The presence of volunteers will undoubtedly reinforce the message about the importance of staying safe on nights out.”

Jess Bygrave, a third year Psychology student at Durham University, and one the three student team leaders on the project, said:
“This scheme has been oversubscribed because many students have been affected by recent tragic events and want to do all they can to safeguard others and look out for their peers.”  

Durham University is emphasising three key messages to students:

* Drink alcohol responsibly
* Do not walk along the river banks in the dark at night
* Stay with your friends and do not go home alone

The City Safety Group is made up of Durham County Council, Durham Constabulary, Durham University, Durham Students’ Union and Durham Cathedral.