Author: Sammi Francis

How to stay safe over the New Year

New Year’s Eve can be an exciting night. Everyone is in high spirits, waiting for the clock to strike midnight. But there are many dangers on this night that young people must be aware of. For example, New Year’s Eve is considered the most dangerous time to be on the road than any other day due to the increase likelihood of drink drivers. So, what can you do to stay safe over the New Year?

Things to be aware of if you’re going out

People celebrate New Year’s Eve in different ways, but many people go out to bars and clubs to celebrate. However, there is an increased chance of things happening to you if you go out. These include:

  • theft of personal items
  • spiking
  • sexual assault
  • increased risk of getting injured
  • increased risk of getting on the wrong side of the law

Sometimes accidents happen, but if other people are involved, it’s hard to control the situation in a way that you are comfortable with. This is where it is best to take precautions to prevent the risk in the first place.

Be prepared for…

Theft – make sure all your valuables are kept in a secure bag close to your body. A bag with a difficult clasp can help deter people from prying. Keep checking through the night that you have everything, and that your phone is fully charged so you can contact people if something is wrong.

Spiking – ensure you keep an eye on your drink the whole time. Don’t leave it unattended, or with someone you don’t know. It’s better to drink out of a bottle where you can, however there are now items you can purchase online, like a cup cap that can help cover your drink. Find out more about symptoms of spiking and what to do here.

Sexual assault – make sure you trust the people you are going out with fully but trust your instincts. Stick together the whole night, and ensure they are aware of your location if you lose each other. Make sure that you all get home safely and together. It’s better to arrange your transport home early so you’re not waiting ages. If there has been an assault, report it to a bouncer or police officer. If you need to walk home, read more on our tips for staying safe walking in the dark here.

Injury – to prevent accidents, wear comfortable, flat shoes to walk in. Try not to drink too much to prevent alcohol poisoning and alcohol related injuries, and don’t take anything that you don’t know. Be aware of your surroundings – move away from people who are becoming verbally or physically violent in case things get serious. Be vigilant in case there is anyone suspicious around who may have bad intentions. Report anything to the police that will need their attention. To prevent injury to others, do not drive home after drinking. Pre-book a taxi and collect your car the next day.

Law breaking – it’s best to not do anything that is illegal in general, but on New Year’s Eve, the Police will be stretched to their limit anyway. Don’t drink and drive or take any drugs. This can cause injury to yourself but to innocent people also. If you feel threatened, it’s best to walk away and calm yourself down. The last thing you need to be in a jail for the rest of the night. Whilst it’s easy to get carried away, it’s better to just walk away.

For anyone staying in

Not everyone likes to go out on New Year’s Eve. It can be expensive and too overwhelming. But staying inside requires some safety knowledge too.

Drinks – just because you’re not going out doesn’t mean you can go crazy with the drinks. If you’re throwing a party, make sure you know your guests in case there is any spiking incidents. If there are any young children around, be aware that they may try to take a sip of your drinks. Just a little bit of alcohol can poison a small child.

Fireworks – lots of people will be setting off fireworks. If you’ve not used them before, think about whether it’s worth it. See whether any neighbours will be using them so you can watch from the safety of your own home. If you do want to use them, make sure you have the space, and know how to do it safely. If sparklers are more your thing, have a bucket of water nearby for people to use, and make sure there is plenty of space to use them.

Social media – you may not have anything planned for New Year’s Eve and seeing other people online celebrating can take its toll if you feel like you’re missing out. Take some time away from your phone and watch a movie or play some board games with your family. Arrange a phone call or FaceTime with a family member or friends to catch up. If you’re struggling mentally, find some online resources to help you cope. Find out how to cope with loneliness here.

Resources:

NHS – 111

Police – 101

For emergencies – 999

MIND – Mental health charity hotline

Counselling hotlines:

How to battle loneliness at Christmas

How to combat loneliness over the Christmas holiday

Loneliness is something that isn’t talked about often with young people. Especially around Christmas time, where it can add extra pressures on your mental health. It’s important to remember, just because it’s a holiday season, it doesn’t mean that your mental health should take a back seat.

Loneliness at Christmas

Many people feel lonely at Christmas for different reasons – you may have lost a loved one close to this time of year, or it is the first Christmas after a breakup. For young people, social media plays a big part in mental health. Seeing other people enjoying Christmas with their families and making plans for New Year’s Eve can make the loneliness feel worse. Mental health problems can make it harder to join in with the festivities., and some families work over the festive period, which can exacerbate loneliness.

What are the signs of loneliness?

Some of the signs of loneliness can also be symptoms of other mental health issues, but some include:

  • Spending a lot of time alone
  • Being unproductive
  • Get stuck on negative situations
  • Often getting ill
  • Overly attached to material possessions

How to manage loneliness at Christmas

First things first is awareness. To be able to manage loneliness, it’s important to recognise that you are lonely. From there, it will be much easier to resolve and move forward from your current situation.

Plan ahead – start to plan before Christmas. If you can’t join your family in person, try arranging a call or FaceTime during the day so you can catch up. Same with any friends who are also alone. If your mental health is preventing you from enjoying the festivities in full, make sure you prioritise your feelings first. If it’s too overwhelming, find some time to take a break away to reduce any stress that could build up.

Talk – talking really does help with managing your feelings. Many people will be going through the same situation as you, and you may not even know it. By telling a family member or a friend how you’re feeling, they can help you with how to cope on Christmas Day and in the long term too. If you’re not wanting to open up to anyone you know, reach out to mental health charities like Mind. Their impartiality and expert knowledge means you can talk to them with no judgement, and they can help refer you to services.

Join in an activity – Christmas can be incredibly draining. So, it maybe worth planning for after Christmas, so you have something to look forward to. Try and find a club relating to any passions you may have. As you’ll have similar interests, it will be easier to chat and make new friends. You can also try volunteering. It maybe scary pushing yourself to meet new people, but it’s a great way to increase your confidence.

How to help someone who is lonely

It may seem easy, but don’t try to fix the situation for them just yet. If they’re starting to open up, let them talk and try not to invalidate their feelings. It’ll only make them feel worse.

Try helping them with broadening their social life. Suggest some clubs they can attend or help them pick up an old passion. Getting started is always the hardest part. If you’re there with them initially, they’re more likely to attend social events/clubs and it’ll get easier from there. It maybe worth using the Christmas holiday to research clubs in the area for afterwards.

Let them know that you’re thinking of them and that they’re not ruining Christmas, as this will be a worry for them. You could help them with being able to leave the festivities for a break if their mental health is taking its toll or try to include them in activities over the Christmas period.

As a worst case scenario, counselling is always there as an option. Their professional advice can help them at home with coping with loneliness as well as in social situations too. They’re more likely to open up to someone they don’t know. Use the holiday to find local counsellors if they’re in desperate need to talk to someone.

It can be draining looking after someone else in any case, let alone at Christmas. Confide with trusted people the situation and make sure that you also prioritise your mental health. It can be a big juggle, but it’s very rewarding seeing them improve and battle their loneliness.

Kidderminster College Safeguarding Team

Kidderminster College have a dedicated, friendly Safeguarding Team who are always on hand for any students who need help. Pop down to Student Services or send them an email at stayingsafe@kidderminster.ac.uk.

All emails are treated with confidentiality.

Resources:

MIND – Mental health charity hotline

BEAT – Eating disorder charity hotline

CALM – Help others who are living miserably

Stand Alone – Help those who are estranged from their families

Cruse Bereavement Care – Help those who have lost loved ones

Counselling hotlines: