By Ryan Gould
The Durham Street Angels project set up to safeguard students on nights out in Durham City has been scrapped by the University in a decision that has been described as “frankly ridiculous.”
Following the deaths of three Durham students in 18 months, the project was founded by student volunteers to provide a safety-blanket for students on Wednesday nights.
Leader of the project and second year Hatfield student, Roshini Turner, informed Street Angel volunteers about the decision via Facebook, stating that “none of the former or current project leaders were consulted about [the project’s scrapping].”
In her post, Roshini also questioned how illustrative the student opinion used in the University’s decision to scrap the project was, stating that it was “from the Durham Students’ Union (DSU), but [they] would question the representativeness of this.”
Talking to Palatinate Roshini said the Street Angels’ plans for expansion, “including for the training of our volunteers to become first aiders in work,” would “very quickly only need one member of staff to supervise the shift.
“This would hardly be an issue, as for the previous ten shifts, we’ve had at least two members of staff available and often have had more.”
The majority of the Street Angels’ expenses go towards the training of volunteers. Roshini told Palatinate that the basic training course — “the training that all volunteers must complete before going on a shift” — is provided cost-free.
“The money we [do] spend on training will allow some of our more experienced volunteers to become first aiders in work, reducing the staffing issue and making the project more sustainable.
“Excluding training, the termly cost of actually running the shifts is only £684.74,” Roshini said.
With Freshers Week set to begin on 5th October, Roshini doesn’t believe this is the problem. “I don’t think Freshers Week is where the issue lies, as you have freps from each college who often do a fantastic job of making sure every fresher has a fantastic week.
“I think the concern for us lies in the weeks that follow Freshers Week, when the freshers are not accompanied in what will still be quite an unfamiliar environment. Many of us have sometimes had too much to drink, regardless of the messages given to us through campaigns, successful or not.
“I just would hate for someone making that mistake to result in tragedy or an accident of some sort,” Roshini added.
A Change.org petition has been set up by the Street Angels requesting that the University reinstates the project, attracting over 250 supporters.
“The first step for us is to gather support – through our petition and our Facebook page.”
“As a project run for students, by students, it is one of the most effective ways of responding to issues of student safety in Durham,” the petition reads.
You can sign the Change.org petition to reinstate the Street Angels here.
Photograph: Mrs Logic (Sandra)