So… Let’s talk SafeSolent.
As some of you might be aware, last year we launched a trial of our free taxi service to get students home from the library after dark. The service operated between 6PM- 6AM, from 5th November to January 30th. We were so pleased with the reaction!
I’ll give you a stat- the announcement on Facebook about Safe Solent was the most engaged post we’ve put out for five whole years. Clearly, it’s something you all want!
Some of the feedback we got included;
"As a university, we desperately needed to do something to make getting home safer for the students."
"Such a good service, even though uni halls are not far it is not the safest walk, especially for a girl on her own at night."
"Having a late service, this allowed me to stay in the library until early hours in the morning which improved my university work."
"As someone who doesn’t feel safe going through the parks after dark this service was a lifesaver."
The Students Union, all the staff and I view this as a much needed service for many reasons. They include the unique situation that Solent University is in, with East Park Terrace perhaps being the only UK city centre based campus with three parks surrounding it.
Serious sexual offences have increased in the city too. With rape crimes being higher than reported in 2015/16. Furthermore, with the relocation of Warsash to City College in St Mary’s, we see this as having the potential for an increase in violence to this group of students.
We understand the vital need for Safe Solent for students. It supports and promotes learning, helps create a community, and means students have safe space to study uninterrupted. It also means students can access specialist software, facilities and equipment provided on campus which is vital for certain courses.
Here’s the tough bit....
Safe Solent comes with a cost. And quite a big one. Some more stats for you. The SU and Radio Taxis helped to deliver 2000 students home safely. We forked out a massive £11,756. This worked out an average of £5.07 per trip.
This is completely unsustainable. The SU is a charity. We’ve got a limited budget, and if we just concentrated on Safe Solent, all the other amazing stuff we do like course reps, societies & the advice service wouldn’t exist.
Our trustee board met at the end of January. They’re like our big government who decide what we do and how we do it. I wrote a massive report telling them how much you valued Safe Solent and what a positive impact it had had.
The end result was that it was agreed there will be another five week trial from the 4th March. This coincides with the library going back to 24/7 opening. In the future, Safe Solent will only run when the library is open for 24 hours and we will be moving to 9PM to 5AM running times. This is because Safe Solent will ONLY continue if we can try and reduce costs. One other option is adding in a nominal fee which we’re also going to have to look at.
We can only do so much though.
We get elected in to represent you. You are part of the Student Union, whether you know it or not.
You are the Student Union.
You own Safe Solent.
That means you own some of the responsibility for trying to reduce costs for it… So don’t use it twice in one night like some people have been doing. If you’re there with people you live with, go home at the same time as each other and share a taxi. During the trial period, three people went back to the same house using three taxis within 20 minutes of each other. That tripled our costs.
We’re going to be setting up a way of finding people to share rides, because that is the only way we will see Safe Solent continuing
Sharing really is caring when it comes to Safe Solent. You need to share a ride, to keep it alive.
During the trial period, please, please, please think about how you’re using Safe Solent. On a personal level, I know what an incredible service and how amazing it is but it needs to be able to be sustained over a prolonged period.