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25th September 2017

Student Safety Bus enduring gruelling Freshers’ shift in Cardiff

BY: Nathan Spackman

Pictured left to right: Nigel Griffiths (Cardiff BID), Andrew Fenwick (VW Sinclair sales manager) Sum Minstry (Police Student Volunteer), Michael Neate, Student Liaison Officer,  Patt Wrangles (Head of Health and Wellbeing at Cardiff university).
 The wheels on Cardiff's Student Safety Bus are well and truly in motion now that in excess of 50,000 students have descended on the capital for 'Freshers’ Fortnight'.
The wheels on Cardiff's Student Safety Bus are well and truly in motion now that in excess of 50,000 students have descended on the capital for 'Freshers’ Fortnight'.
The Student Safety Bus scheme is an initiative between South Wales Police and Student Volunteering Cardiff, and is jointly funded by Cardiff’s Business Improvement District (BID).
It aims to prevent students who are vulnerable, usually through the effects of drinking alcohol, from being victims of crime or involved in accidents.
The safety bus – a branded Volkswagen Transporter supplied and liveried by Sinclair Volkswagen (Cardiff) - began its gruelling two-week shift on 15th September and will be in service every night between 9pm and 5am, until 1st October - it is already helping an average of 10 students a night.
Staffed by a police officer and two police student volunteers, the bus can come to the aid of students anywhere in the city, but most demand for it will be in the city centre and in areas such as Roath and Cathays, where bars and clubs popular with students are concentrated.
It can be deployed by door staff, bar staff, CCTV camera operators, street pastors and patrolling police officers, who are all well placed to identify students who are at risk, for example, an individual who may be drunk and incapable and who appears to be alone without friends.
The bus will normally be required to take a student back to the safety of their accommodation, but if necessary, individuals will be taken to the alcohol treatment centre or in extreme cases, to hospital. Last year, the safety bus came to the rescue of 650 students.
University Liaison officer, Pc Mike Neate, said: "The Safety Bus has been operation for nearly seven years now and the scheme demonstrates its value every time. The bus isn’t used to replace other front line services which have a specialist and specific job to do, but by effectively identifying and looking after vulnerable individuals and preventing potential incidents, it helps to reduce some of the demand upon other under pressure services. I’d like to thank all the partners who made this possible once again – this , as part of their involvement, Sinclair Volkswagen (Cardiff) delivered the van with complimentary vinyls which will give it an unmistakeable presence on the street.”
South Wales Police works closely with the universities to ensure follow up welfare checks are done with students and that any appropriate advice or interventions are made.
The scheme has attracted widespread support from students and their families who have expressed their gratitude following their hour of need. The service continues through university term time, but is limited to Wednesday nights which have become synonymous across the UK with being ‘student night’.
Professor Amanda Coffey, Cardiff University’s Professor Vice-Chancellor for Student Experience said: “The safety of our students is our number one priority. The Safety Bus is one of the ways in which we can work to keep our students safe. It is an important service that helps prevent the most vulnerable from becoming victims of crime or involved in accidents.”
Carolyn Brownell, Marketing and Communications Manager at Cardiff BID, said: “One of the main focuses of the BID's strategy over the next five years is to invest in initiatives that make the city more welcoming, vibrant and influential. To make Cardiff more welcoming it first and foremost needs to be safe for everyone who lives here or visits us. That’s why we delighted to support this fantastic project, making sure our students feel completely safe as they enjoy life in their new city.”
On Friday night (22 September), the Student Safety Bus gave assistance to the following people:
11:46pm - Three out of four female friends picked up on Greyfriars Rd and taken to the Alcohol Treatment centre (ATC)
00:43am - Male picked up on bus stop outside Prizm and taken to ATC.
1.22am - 20 yr-old female found alone outside Lidl - taken to the ATC
1.44am - 20 yr-old male found upset and vulnerable – take to his student accommodation.
2.56am - 20 year-old male found outside Pryzm - uncoherent – taken to ATC.
3.53am - 21 year-old female found sat alone in a window place in city centre – taken back to her home.
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