NightSafe is a student-led volunteering project that aims to provide support to vulnerable students clubbing in York. We send teams of three out into town on university club nights equipped with water bottles, sick bags, first aid kits and the training necessary to provide support to any students that might need it. This academic year we have definitely seen an increase in the number of students approaching us on nights out worried that their friend has been spiked inside of a club. While this isn’t something that has been totally out of the ordinary in the past, some of our teams haven’t been able to get through a single shift so far this term without at least one incident of potential spiking. These events are scary for everyone involved; including the victim, their friends and also our volunteers who are all students themselves at the University of York.
NightSafe fully supported the ‘Girls Night In’ campaign that took place in York on Wednesday 27th October. Too often the conversation around spiking is limited exclusively to what potential victims can do to protect themselves; we are told to buy bottle covers to protect our drinks, to never accept drinks from a stranger or leave a drink unattended. While these measures might reduce the likelihood of being spiked, they shouldn’t be necessary in the first place. No matter how many precautions someone might take, there will always be a way around them, which has been all too clearly demonstrated by the reports of spikings via injection that have been circulating on social media and on the news. The ‘Girls Night In’ campaign gave students an opportunity to feel like their voices were being heard by the venues where they are beginning to feel unsafe, forcing these establishments to close on one of their busiest week nights. We can only hope that this campaign does get through to venues in York and force them to consider what actions they can take to protect students.
On top of the worry that a rise in drink spikings has caused among students, we have also had a handful of cases where students have told us that they haven’t approached venue staff to report a potential spiking incident for fear that they wouldn’t be taken seriously, demonstrating the reputation of club staff among students. Students should be allowed to feel safe on nights out without the fear of being sexually harassed or spiked and they should feel safe enough to be able to report these incidents to any member of staff working for these venues without fear of being dismissed.
The sad fact is that spikings are on the rise across the country and so you should know what to do if you think a friend has been spiked in a club or a bar. The best and most important advice we can give is to make sure that they are safe. Make sure they are with trusted people and make sure they are closely monitored. Be ready to call an ambulance if their condition deteriorates (for example, they lose consciousness) or take them to A&E if they develop any other worrying symptoms. There will always be people around that you can go to for help whether that be door staff, bar staff or you might be able to find our NightSafe team out on patrol, and, if you are dismissed, find someone else to help you.
These recent events have worried most students so the best thing you can do when you go out clubbing is remember to stay vigilant, stay safe, look after your friends, and still have fun!
Written by NightSafe