Holly Ledger, a second-year Events Management student, is taking steps to combat crime in student areas such as Fallowfield and Withington.
On Wednesday the 14th of March, from 1 to 4 p.m., Sugar Rush Events, which she leads, is hosting ‘Fallow Fights Back’. At this event, University of Manchester security, the councillors of Fallowfield and Withington, and self-defence experts Smart Combat, will come together to educate people about the dangers in these areas and how to tackle them.
Local DJs, face painting, freebies, and copious glitter will also feature during the course of the evening. Holly hopes students will come together in solidarity over this issue and react in unison to what is meant to be an event inspiring positivity, in the face of fear.
Home Office statistics released last October suggested that crime in Greater Manchester in the year July 2016-June 2017 rose by 31 per cent. In particular, violence against a person rose 46 per cent, sexual offences climbed 31 per cent, burglary increased by 14 per cent, and robbery was up 53 per cent on the year before.
The fact that students are one of the most vulnerable groups is no secret. Crime in Fallowfield has been the focus of particular attention. One student told The Mancunion of his encounter with an assailant armed with a gun. Countless burglaries have been reported, as well as regular muggings, stalking, and violent crime.
The rising popularity of the ‘Fallowfield Student Group’ on Facebook has brought the sheer volume of these issues to light. Students have banded together to warn each other of suspicious people, areas to avoid, and raised awareness of crime events.
“It’s an important topic and I just feel there isn’t enough being done,” Holly told The Mancunion.
“We felt that there hasn’t been anything solidly put into place, especially for the mental health effects of it. The effect on mental health of these crimes is being overlooked. We have friends who have been targets of crime – including one friend who was violently beaten up at 6 a.m. and had his nose broken.
“It was hard seeing how it’s really shaken him up and knowing he now has anxiety when having to go outside alone, even in the middle of the day. Uni is supposed to be a safe place. There are so many halls of residence in Fallowfield so it’s such a shame so many people feel so anxious.”
There will be stalls all around University place, with local Labour Councillor Grace Fletcher-Hackwood invited along and others to be confirmed.
“We are in discussion with the Owens Park security team and hoping to have them present on the day, along with some talks about current security in Fallowfield. We also are going to have information about insurance for students and related freebies such as rape whistles.
“Smart Combat is also going to be putting on free self-defence sessions for students who can learn basic skills to help them protect themselves and feel confident. There will be local DJs from different societies throughout the day along with glitter and face painting. Despite the serious message we wanted this event to be fun and uplifting.”
“The event should be an important and empowering step towards helping students in South Manchester build towards a safer future,” says Holly. “One of the biggest things we have learnt from this is the importance of bringing the community together and working together — so many people are doing some really great things.”
The event will take place March the 14th, from 1 to 4 p.m. in University Place.
Students can get tickets for free from the event’s Facebook page.