Campus Reporters

Increasing student safety through online groups: Notts Safe Space

Nottingham students created 'Notts Safe Space', open to both male and female students who fear about their safety in Nottingham.

With the alarming amount of incidents, including harassment and muggings of students within Nottingham, Eugene Nakuti, a third-year economics and international economics student (the groups’ founder) and Amari Korpal, a third-year politics and international relations student (the groups’ co-founder) decided to set up ‘Notts Safe Space’ in November 2018.

Within twenty-four hours, the group gained a huge one thousand members and, one month later, it has almost reached two and a half thousand members. I asked them what inspired the creation of the group, how it helps the problem and what the future of this swiftly expanding Facebook group is…

1. Why did you decide to start the ‘Notts Safe Space’ group?

“There would always be at least one insensitive comment which just did not seem fair”

Eugene: It was in light of all the incidents that were happening in Nottingham at the beginning of term. There seemed to be a post about an incident almost every day and it was extremely concerning to see how many girls were victims of harassments. Although buy/sell is a great platform for posting about these issues, there would always be at least one insensitive comment which just did not seem fair. We wanted to act upon these issues and thought about setting up some sort of page where girls, in particular, could feel safe about posting about incidents and also creating an online community where if in need, they could find people to walk home with so they would not have to alone, especially after a night out. We wanted to expand it further and make it more about safety in Nottingham, which may also resonate with boys too.

2. What do you think needs to be done to help prevent the increasing amount of harassment issues that have been occurring in Nottingham?

“Councils can only do so much but students need to be fully informed from year one of the different groups they can contact”

Amari: I have been working alongside ‘Nottingham Citizens‘ who are an alliance of organisations that work together towards making Nottingham a better place to live in. I have run several listening campaigns where the majority of issues raised related to student safety and as such, we can raise greater awareness for this through Nottingham Citizens in perhaps creating a city-wide campaign, where we can reach out to the council or the police to put greater measures in place. It could even be something as small as more street lights; even that would make a difference

Eugene: Councils can only do so much but students need to be fully informed from year one of the different groups they can contact if they ever come across such issues; by making students more aware, this would increase the likelihood of victims filing complaints to the police or any local bodies within the area.

3. Is there anything you think the university could do to help the issue?

“Make the group an SU-affiliated campaign group so anything that does get posted on the group can be supported by the Univeristy”

Eugene: We had a meeting with the SU and got their advice about how we can move forward with the group. We are planning on getting in touch with SU Advice also to have their input, and we have also been advised to make the group an SU-affiliated campaign group so anything that does get posted on the group can be supported by the university.

The SU officers also suggested partnering up with ‘Nottingham Night Owls‘ because helping people walk home after nights out is exactly what they do! We also want to increase the general awareness of Nightline too, because they are really helpful to the cause.

4. What is your relationship with the Bumble App?

“the app is all about empowering women by encouraging them to make the first move…as the app aims to be a ‘safe space’ their endorsement would be great”

Amari: I have been working for Bumble since the beginning of the summer and the app is all about empowering women by encouraging them to make the first move. As such, the app aims to essentially be a ‘safe space’ where women can feel safe and empowered to do so, so I felt that their endorsement would be great and they are very much on board with the initiative! I had a few ideas such as a Bumble-sponsored self-defense class and perhaps giving out x amount of Bumble water bottles to those walking home after a big night out to help people sober up. I am still amidst organizing this but Bumble really like the idea and they want to introduce these ideas to other universities too, which is really great, so I am hoping for this to follow through in the new year.

5. What is your immediate advice to people that feel scared in Nottingham?

“make sure you are not walking anywhere alone when it is getting late and dark.”

Amari: Everyone always says it but make sure you are not walking anywhere alone when it is getting late and dark. If by chance you are walking down your road alone, call your housemate to stand by the front door whilst you walk down just so you feel reassured – I get scared a lot especially when it’s quiet so I do this all the time and it helps.

6. What is the future for this group?

“the group isn’t just a Facebook page but also a safety initiative!”

Hopefully after exams and deadlines, when we can put more time into this then we can get the group moving a bit more with SU and Bumble endorsement – hopefully this will show how the group isn’t just a Facebook page but also a safety initiative! We are lucky to have the support of the University and Nottingham Citizens too, so hopefully, there is some scope to bring about improvements towards safety in student areas. We also hope that if students at other universities resonate with these issues then we can suggest setting up ‘Safe Space’ pages in other cities too.

Charlotte Hegley

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