In the age of “girls protecting girls”, one Lincoln University student has taken to social media to offer a helping hand to women worried for their safety on the streets of the city centre.
Amber Mitchel, 19, is a second-year year student who has faced street harassment and threats from strangers while walking on her own through the city.
On Sunday the 4th of November she founded a private page on Facebook that she says will help any women who find themselves in unsafe situations. It’s called the Lincoln Girl Gang Chat.
The page allows members to post whenever they may feel unsafe or worried about travelling alone. Other members can then help in whatever way they can: either by calling, messaging or meeting them in person.
The idea is simple: there’s safety in numbers.
In May 2018, around 15% of all reported police incidents were identified as “violence and sexual offences”. That’s 67 of 406 cases.
The group now boasts a membership of around 1,500 women, all of whom have requested to join and been accepted by the site’s administrator.
Ms Mitchel said: “Even though us girls aren’t the police, at least if there’s a girl in trouble, someone should be close to their location.”
So how much safer is this precaution? Pre-existing protective services say people should not rely on the group entirely.
Lincoln’s street pastors are out on the high street to help anyone in trouble every Friday and Saturday night.
Teena Twelves, coordinator of the Lincoln street pastors group, says those wanting to go on nights out in the city should take precautions such as drinking moderately and planning their night thoroughly before the day.
However, she added: “I would imagine that people would find it [the Lincoln girl gang page] very reassuring. But in the absence of planning safe routes home beforehand, I think getting in touch with somebody is a good idea.”
Ms Mitchel says she does her best to ensure every member of the group is there for the right reasons.
“Naturally, there are going to be people who try and work their way into the chat who shouldn’t and I will try my hardest to ensure no-one abuses its core meaning and the safety of this amazing community of girls.”
The idea originally came from students in Nottingham, who created a Facebook group called “WomenWalkingHome” to help students get home safely.
To join the “Lincoln Girl Gang Chat“, contact the site administrator on the Facebook page.