Living alone at uni can be such an exciting adventure, and for many of you, this will also be your first time being entirely responsible for your own safety and wellbeing. We want to work with you to make sure that you’re as safe as possible whilst having a fun and amazing time during your study at the University of Chester.
We’ve put together 4 simple things that you do take to ensure your safety – and don’t think this is just for females or younger folk, this applies to all everybody.
1. Secure your home
Although it may be our house, it is your home for at least 12 months, and you need to make sure that you keep it safe to protect yourself and your housemates. We and our landlords fit external and bedroom doors with locks. If you don’t already, make it a habit to lock these when you’re entering and exiting your house or room. You should also keep high value and expensive looking items away from windows, and in a secure place – locking your bedroom door and making sure your windows are shut is a good start. If you know you’re not going to be at home overnight or for a few days, you can buy timer switches that will turn lamps on and off at selected times, giving the impression that someone is in. If you are away, you may want to consider taking transportable valuables with you.
2. Can you trust the people around you?
When you make the decision about who to live with (or who to go out with!), it can work out really wonderfully and you may have yourself a lifelong friend or partner! But sadly there are times when even what seems like the most perfect (romantic or plutonic) relationship breaks down, and being realistic about this is important. If you’re in a situation where this has happened to you, ask yourself a couple of questions:
- Do you feel that things are amicable and you can move forward independently
- Do you feel safe (mentally and physically) to be around this person/ these people
We hope that you never find yourself in a situation like this, but in case you ever do, you need to be aware of what steps to take. We suggest you do the following:
- If the person or people don’t live with you, inform your housemates of what’s going on so they know when you may be in an unsafe situation
- Contact the university either by phoning, emailing or going to see your nearest representative
- Do you feel like you may be in danger either now or in the future? Call the police and they can advise you of the best way to handle the situation.
It is better to be over-cautious than find yourself in a situation that threatens your mental or physical health.
3. Keep your personal information safe
Identity theft is easier than you might imagine, and it’s up to you to make sure you protect yourself by keeping a safe record of important documents e.g. driving license and passport. If you’re called and asked for personal information, be suspicious, find out why the individual wants the information and don’t give out any details unless you’re 100% certain that you can validate the request. This includes destroying documents that have your bank details and/ or address, rather than just putting them in the bin.
Soon all companies large and small will need to comply to the government GDPR legislation, which involves keeping your data safe and secure. Any company that you share your data with should be able to tell you the steps that they’re taking to keep any details that you share safe and compliant with this legislation by May 2018. If they can’t tell you this, and you’re not certain that your data will be kept secure, then you may want to think twice about who you get involved with!
4. You’ve secured your house, but what about yourself when you walk out the front door?
Make sure you know how to get to your location in advance, and plan ahead how you’re going to get home. If you’re going out alone, let your housemates know where you’re going and what time you expect to be back, avoiding dark or badly lit areas such as parks, alleyways and underpasses/ subways. You can also take precautions when you’re alone on public transport by sitting near the driver on a bus, on an occupied carriage on a train, and ensuring that you’re using a reputable taxi firm either called in advance or caught from a known and staffed taxi rank.
It’s a really good idea to carry a personal alarm with you – sometimes people see these as a female accessory, but if an attacker wants something from you, they won’t care what your gender is. The video below might be about London, but it doesn’t mean that the same thing couldn’t happen in our little city of Chester.
We don’t want you to be scared out of your witts, but it is sensible to be sensible. Talk to and associate with people you can trust, and use your instincts – if it doesn’t feel safe, then don’t take the risk.
You can always pop down to our hub at 89 Garden Lane if you have any concerns (we’re the one with the yelllow door), and have a chat with our team – we’ve been students ourselves and like to think we have learnt a bit on our own journeys.