Written by Rhiannon Jenkins
The University of Leicester’s Students’ Union has launched a new campaign around sport and safety, after a Leicester student was followed whilst on a run. So far the campaign has included the provision of free work-out gear to encourage safe exercising, and will continue on December 2nd with a fundraising quiz to increase awareness around the issue.
It was first raised by the Cheer Club Captain, Milly Abbott, in the Team Leicester Club Captain chat:
“Unfortunately, recently a friend of mine was verbally assaulted and then followed whilst out on a run. She was really shaken up about the experience and afraid for her physical safety. This really struck a chord with me because I know that this is something that happens far too regularly, and I remember thinking enough is enough.”
With gyms closed and the sun setting earlier, all of the Club Captains felt it was important to encourage their members to stay safe. Their following discussion led to the safe exercise initiative and quiz.
“As we were doing Movember with the 60km challenge and with our members not being able to exercise in gyms, I just felt that I really needed to do something to make sure the members of my club were safe,” Milly said. “We created multiple posts about exercising safely, but it just didn’t feel like enough. It felt really sad having to even start this initiative because, ideally, we’d live in a world where people didn’t need to think about their own personal safety […] and people just didn’t abuse or assault others in any context! […] This quiz is just a small part we can play in a bigger fight for a safer city.”
The quiz – A Question of Sport and Safety – will run with eight rounds on Wednesday December 2nd (usually a night dedicated to socials and LetsDisko) in aid of Victim First, a Leicestershire charity who support those who have experienced and/or witnessed any kind of abuse/crime. Milly also hopes it will help raise awareness around the issue:
“If we educate people now, on not only how to look after themselves but also how not to act and how to just be good people, then when we go out into the world hopefully those ideals will be translated into future life.”
Milly has been supported in her endeavours by the other Club Captains and Hannah Belcher, the 2020/21 Sports Officer:
“As Sports Officer, my job is to support projects which I think will make a difference to the wider student body.”
Personal alarms, running bum bags for people to store phones/wallets/keys etc. in, which have a high vis reflective strip, and then running arm bands which are also reflective were made available from Monday 23rd November, but Hannah wants to expand the range of free equipment available to students:
“I am hoping to create lockdown/self-isolation exercise packs—similar to those food and games parcels […]—which can be delivered to students’ doors. In them I want to include skipping ropes, yoga mats, foam rollers, resistance bands etc. so students can exercise safely in the comfort of their own home too, when isolating or when gyms are shut.”
The equipment has been purchased using the funds available to Hannah through her role as Student Sabbatical Officer, and she also liaised with Campus Security to determine the best place to source personal alarms from.
“Campaigns and projects can go one of two ways,” Hannah said. “One or two people engage or hundreds, and so I was cautious at first, only ordering a limited number of each item in case nobody collected, but I’ve had to restock three times already this week with next day delivery to keep up with demand, so it’s clearly been promoted well by student clubs and the need for it is clear in the response [from] students.”
Both Hannah and Milly emphasised the importance of gyms reopening – for physical and mental health reasons – and how their closure has put students at risk. The sentiment has been shared by other TL Club Captains, all of whom are helping out by delivering different rounds of the quiz.
“It’s been wonderful to see clubs coming together,” Hannah said. “All working towards making a difference for the community and raising money for charity.”
Rhiannon Jenkins is a final year English student passionate about activism, film & literature and travel. She also acts as Arts & Culture Chief Editor. You can find her on twitter here: @jenksrhiannon
Feature image by Fitsum Admasu, from Unsplash.
Information about the event and tickets can be found here.