Meet the people keeping you safe during a night out in Dundee

Parked in the Lidl car park in South Ward Road, the Dundee Safe Zone Bus provides a refuge for the city’s weekend revellers.

The Tele joined the team on Friday night to see what a typical shift involved.

It could be helping people who have had too much to drink, who are injured or perhaps need their mobile phone charged or a hot drink. The service is there to take the strain off the emergency services.

Project coordinator Arwen Elder, who works for Tayside Council on Alcohol (TCA), said there was no “typical night”.

The Safe Zone Shuttle bus team, from left: Sgt Craig Kelly, TCA volunteer team leader Holly Jones, Red Cross first aider George Nicoll, project coordinator Arwen Elder, Red Cross first aider Owen Smith and TCA volunteers Christina Hutton and Nicole Phillips.

She said: “Essentially, just under 30% of what we do is alcohol support. About 10% is first aid and another 5% is drugs. The rest is a combination of helping reunite people with friends, charge phones, give out advice and also assist those who may be vulnerable or need a safe space to talk.”

TCA team leader Holly Jones joined Arwen as designated minibus driver. They were helped by colleagues Nicole Phillips and Christina Hutton and Sergeant Craig Kelly from Police Scotland. George Nicoll and Owen Smith, from the Red Cross, provided first aid.

Staff have a radio link to the Dundee Coordinated Anti-crime Network (Duncan). If a call is received to say someone needs assistance, the team will make its way there and take people to the car park.

On Friday, a female was assisted by staff after having a fall outside a pub in Union Street.

TCA volunteer Holly Jones

Holly explained: “An ambulance had been called, which was taking a bit of time. The Red Cross assisted the woman until the ambulance arrived.”

Sgt Miller said: “The Safe Zone Bus is a perfect example of partnership working. It’s another way of identifying vulnerable people and ultimately keeping people safe.”

Not everyone on board has had too much to drink. Willie, who is homeless, said: “I come for the company. It’s a warm, safe place to get a cup of tea, a seat and a chat.”

Arwen said: “We engage with the homeless community a lot. We will try to help with welfare, health, foodbank referrals and addictions services.”

The Safe Zone shuttle and bus

More than six times as many people have used the bus between April 1 and November 28 this year than in the same period in 2016.

In total, there were 716 visitors, up from 107 in 2016 and higher than the 2015 total of 492. This year’s referrals included 541 people requiring welfare support, 205 who were assisted for alcohol support and 28 people who had taken drugs.

There were 67 people who required first aid, while 142 were given advice and information and eight suicide interventions were carried out by the team.

The bus runs every Friday and Saturday until the end of the year as well as on Tuesday December 19 at Dundee University Students’ Assocation and on Hogmanay.

The Safe Zone Bus is funded by TCA, Dundee City Council, Police Scotland and Dundee Community Safety Partnership. The funding is up for review in March.