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UEA spearheads campaign to make nights out safer

Young people clubbing

The University of East Anglia (UEA) is spearheading a new initiative to help make Norwich a safer place for students and other young people to enjoy a night out.

The Student Community Safeguarding Partnership will bring together the university, the students’ union and external organisations to raise awareness of how to stay safe and improve the way that incidents and allegations of harassment and assault are handled both on and off the campus.

Half the cost will be met by a £35,000 grant from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) Catalyst Fund, which is helping to finance 60 projects in universities and colleges in response to a report by the Universities UK Taskforce examining violence against women, harassment and hate crime.

UEA’s Vice-Chancellor Prof David Richardson, a taskforce member, said: “Norwich is a safe city and we’re proud to have one of the safest campuses in the UK but, as the taskforce clearly highlighted, there’s always more that we can do. What’s exciting about this initiative is that, as well as working with students to help them – and other young people – safeguard themselves, we’ll develop new approaches with the city’s pubs and clubs to help identify and deal with harassment.”

UEA will also work with other education providers, the police, local transport companies and the NHS on a range of activities, including a “Good Night Out” scheme to help venue staff handle incidents more effectively, an “Ask for Angela” scheme enabling young people to ask bar staff for assistance discreetly and a Bystander scheme to give onlookers the tools to intervene. The whole programme is scheduled to be in place by April 2018.

“The initiative is part of our ‘Safe Campus, Safe City’ initiative, aimed at protecting students and the wider Norwich community by tackling harassment in all its forms,” said Jon Sharp, UEA’s Director of Student Services. “Our aim is to change the culture and empower people to speak out and take action if they witness harassment, as refusing to tolerate it is fundamental to prevention.”

Jo Swo, Welfare, Community and Diversity Officer for UEA Students’ Union, said: “The partnership will build on the work the Students’ Union is already doing to tackle sexual harassment, which includes training LCR staff in how to take action and a hugely successful ‘Good Night Out’ educational campaign. By working together, we can help to stamp out unacceptable behaviour both on and off the campus.”