A TEESSIDER has set up a group to ensure women in Middlesbrough feel safe when they're on and after a night out.

The Women's Street Watch Middlesbrough was set up as a branch of the Newcastle group which has proved a massive success, in ensuring women get home safe after they've been out in the city's bars.

The Middlesbrough group is launching a pilot on Friday (November 12) and will be out and about in the town. They are hoping to do a few pilot evenings, before launching properly at the end of the month.

Bethany McLean has set up the Middlesbrough branch of the group.

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Bethany, who lives in Middlesbrough, said: "The aim is really to reduce strain on services, in Middlesbrough there's been a lot of people in A&E, so we are trying to reduce strain on emergency services, providing first aid. The volunteers that I have will be DBS checked and we're also looking for first aiders as well.

"We can provide safe routes home, we want to provide training qualifications, we're eager to not only have the volunteers we have provide an amazing service but increase their employability, if they are say, students. We want to ensure that what we do is really meaningful for them on their CV. Especially prioritising women from marginalised groups as well.

"I also want to reduce incidences of sexual violence and harassment against women. Middlesbrough has been quite a hot spot for lots of spiking so I just want to be able to provide a safe place on the streets where we can either walk people to be reunited with their friends, we can sit with them while they charge their phone up, we can sort them out with a cup of tea, we can wait with them for a bus, wait with them for a taxi."

This is just months after 33-year-old Sarah Everard was kidnapped, raped and murdered by police officer Wayne Couzens when she was walking home from a friend's house in London.

Couzens falsely arrested Miss Everard after saying she had breached Covid-19 rules.

Last month, a university student said she was unable to walk after being spiked in a Durham city centre nightclub.

This came as dozens of women at universities around the UK, including Durham, have reported they were spiked with an injection during nights-out with friends, and later found pin prick marks on their legs and arms.

Bethany added: "From my own experience I've needed someone, I've been spiked on a night out, I've also been far too drunk on a night out and I've left my friends and been on my own. It would have been really ideal for me to have someone there to sit with me while I found my way home.

"It's support in terms of pastoral care and also a deterrent for potential offenders, I'm hoping that they know that we're out there - we are going to prevent further offences."

Women's Street Watch Middlesbrough is on Instagram on @womensstreetwatchboro

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