As mentioned in my previous article, there has been a lot of ongoing development regarding the situation with drink spiking and personal safety involving students. I thought it was worth giving you an update on how the SU are helping to improve safety for students, so grab a cup of tea/coffee/latte and let’s get started!
Before you get stuck in, you might want to look at my last Presidents’ update to know more about where the VAWG (Violence Against Women & Girls) working group started:
First off as a quick explanation, the VAWG working group came about last year when drink spiking and harassment were highlighted as issues in the student community. Students from both Falmouth University and the University of Exeter were affected, and there were concerns about wellbeing on nights out, worries for safety while walking home at night. Out of the personal safety campaigns and Safer Streets pop ups in term one, the VAWG working group was created.
In January, the first working group meeting was held, where students, police and SU staff attended. As part of the meeting three students put their names forward to chair the group and all three are now leading the group. They meet regularly to decide on how a pot of £5000 will be spent to improve safety for women and girls in Falmouth.
Since the first meeting, the group has met regularly online, to contribute ideas about how the £5000 funding from Cornwall Council should be spent. The Chair and Co-Chair decided that they wanted to get more student feedback to make sure that the money was being spent on things that the students wanted and needed. They have recently held another pop up on Social Street and have also made a google document for students to contribute ideas on what they need to feel safer.
Some recent developments include the SU and VAWG group collaborating with Lucy Cokes, an academic for Falmouth that leads Year 3 Advertising. Together with Safer Cornwall, they worked with Falmouth University students and other local communities to challenge attitude and behaviours towards violence against women and girls, speaking to students and hearing their personal accounts of what they have witnessed or seen. Alongside this, conversations have gone quite far with a local café that will act as a safe space in the evenings. A local studio might also start running self-defence classes.
It’s just so incredible that although VAWG started predominantly with the SU staff, now it’s being led by students and constantly looking for input and feedback from students. If you are interested in joining them, please use the link below! You can also get in touch with the Chair and Co-Chairs, and follow them on their Instagram to give them some support @vawg.thesu
If you would like to join the group you can sign up using the VAWG Google form: https://forms.gle/hKLkwiMgrasLgrwS6
Finally, if you or any students you know are impacted by any of the situations mentioned in this article, please visit wellbeing services where they will support you in finding help.
Although this explores gender-based violence towards women and girls, we understand that any students with protected characteristics (LGBTQ+, BAME, Disabled, etc) will also face barriers to feeling safe at night. Therefore, feedback from all of our students is so important for a diverse and inclusive approach.