STUDENTS are keeping women in Carlisle city centre safe on Saturday nights as part of a wider Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG) campaign.

The 17 students from University of Cumbria, who are trained in first aid, conflict resolution and safeguarding, will rotate on Saturday evenings helping anyone who feels vulnerable or unsafe on a night out.

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The scheme has been introduced as part of the Safety of Women at Night (SWaN) project which has been funded by a successful bid from Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, to the Home Office’s SWaN Fund for £116,925.

The volunteers will be pitched outside Carlisle train station at the multi-agency welfare hub.

News and Star: Peter McCallPeter McCall

Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, said: “Everyone has the right to go on a night out, enjoy themselves and get home safe.

"However, we know that this isn’t always the case – especially for women. 

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"That’s why projects such as the Welfare Hub and the 17 volunteers are so important: a safe place for women to go when they feel like they may be in danger or feeling vulnerable.

"The volunteers on this scheme can help women with a range of support including getting a lift home from a safe and reputable taxi or simply provide them with a safe place to wait for their family, friend or partner to pick them up. 

"Working with Street Pastors and the Police I am confident that our team of volunteers will make a real difference and I am enormously grateful to every one of them for stepping up," he said. 

"The team in the Welfare Hub are doing a great job and I would encourage anyone on a night out who feels vulnerable, in danger or needs help to reach out to the volunteers, or indeed to the Police.

The SWaN funding also provided the Welfare Hub gazebo, branded uniforms for the volunteers and equipment including a defibrillator, drunk test strips and drink protectors to avoid spiking, drug wipes and space blankets.

The volunteers are managed by Carlisle’s Neighbourhood Policing Team and have been out in Carlisle since April 2nd with three paid Safer Streets coordinators set to join the team later in the year.

Gary Slater, principal lecturer of policing at the University of Cumbria, said: "We are delighted that a number of our students doing criminology, law, policing and security degree programmes are involved as Safer Streets Volunteers in the night-time welfare hub outside Carlisle Railway Station.

"They’ve completed all the necessary training provided in readiness for this.

"Not only are they promoting safer environments for women and girls, the volunteering roles offer our students a real opportunity to fulfil their passion of making a positive contribution to the community in which they live and study now and in the future," he said.

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