“SaferU” - university volunteering in action

“University should be a life-affirming experience for students, but it is also important for them to know how to keep safe. That is why we have teamed up with the charity Crimestoppers to run ongoing crime prevention campaigns organised by student volunteers. In the process they learn new skills, meet people and make a real contribution towards their communities. We are delighted with the results and are committed to championing the wider roll out of the programme.” - Professor Nick Petford (Vice Chancellor, University of Northampton)

Why students?

“One in five students will be a victim of crime while studying at college or university,” according to the National Union of Students. This can include verbal abuse or threats of violence; physical mistreatment; vandalism or property damage; theft, burglary or robbery.

There are over two million students studying in the UK; that’s a population larger than that of Latvia. We estimate that approximately 400,000 crimes are committed against students each year. The impact of crime on young people is a serious issue and one where universities, law enforcement, student employers and students take an active interest.

As a result, Crimestoppers created SaferU – an initiative, run by student volunteers, which places emphasis on prevention and personal safety awareness.

This was trialled at the University of Northampton for 18 months, during which time the charity worked very closely with the university and student volunteers to pilot crime prevention campaigns.

Student-led SaferU volunteer campaigning

An innovative campaign to raise awareness of opportunistic thefts on campus, called “Stick it – Stole it,” saw unattended possessions covered in Post-it notes.

“The “Stick it – Stole It” initiative really caught the attention of students. It made an important point with humour. It was designed and run by student volunteers who were also in the best position to know what would work.”  Professor Nick Petford (Vice Chancellor, University of Northampton)

SaferU has proved a huge success at the University of Northampton. The initiative has raised awareness of crime and brought together different groups to deliver the campaign. It has also helped students to develop a range of new skills relevant to the jobs market.

In an increasingly competitive jobs market, volunteering has a major influence on employability. 82% of recent graduates included volunteering on their CV and 78% discussed their volunteering experiences at interviews.

“When I see two graduates whose CVs read the same, I look for activities like volunteering which give the CV a unique selling point.” James Caan (entrepreneur and former star of BBC TV’s Dragon’s Den).

Crimestoppers has ambitious plans to develop SaferU. The initiative will now be rolled out at Plymouth and Anglia Ruskin universities. In three years’ time we aim to have SaferU running at 30 universities.  

To find out more about the SaferU project, contact Crimestoppers.