The Swindon Community Safety Partnership has teamed up with other agencies and community partners to send out a strong message to young people who will be celebrating this Christmas
Using the slogan ‘Christmas is coming…get it covered’, alcohol services, the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), sexual health services and domestic violence services are uniting to urge people not to put themselves in a situation where they have drunk so much alcohol they are putting themselves at risk.
Sexual assault, pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and relationship problems are often linked to drinking too much. To help support the campaign, a special credit card has been produced giving the numbers for services that can help. The card comes with a condom attached and space for an ICE number (In Case of Emergency) in the event that the cardholder loses their phone.
The card has been distributed to colleges and a dedicated team of ‘Pink Ladies’ will be in the town centre on Thursday (20 Dec) evening to give them to young party goers. They will continue to issue them throughout the festive season.
Jools James-Kempshall, SARC Manager, said: “We want everyone to go out and have a good time but we don’t want their celebrations to end in disaster. Most people assume that sexual assault will never happen to them and men are more likely to be complacent but we must remember that, although rare, male rape and sexual assaults do happen.
“Never leave your drink unattended and don’t accept a drink from someone you don’t know. If you are concerned about your own or someone’s safety, call the police.”
Lin Williams, the Domestic Violence Reduction Co-ordinator said: “Domestic violence and abuse happens in young people’s relationships too.
“A survey conducted by the NSPCC found that 75% of the girls who took part reported some sort of emotional abuse and 33% of girls and 16% of boys reported some form of sexual violence from a girlfriend or boyfriend. Christmas can put a strain on your relationships.
“This year, with money tighter there could be added stresses. Many people access help from support services after Christmas and the New Year having tried to make their relationship work over the holidays. A number of people are violent when they haven’t been drinking but alcohol can be a contributing factor. Tensions can occur when people are out partying but alcohol shouldn’t be an excuse for violent behaviour.”
Julie Northcott, Swindon Borough Council’s Strategic Planning & Commissioning Manager for Sexual Health and Teenage Pregnancy, said: “Although young people in Swindon are leading the way in improving sexual health, figures show that between January and March of this year, 9.5% of young people aged between 16 and 25 who were tested for Chlamydia showed a positive result and needed treatment.
“The 19 to 25 age group also have the highest rate of abortions and repeat abortions across Swindon. The message is clear – Get it covered – you should use contraception and a condom every time.”