People enjoying a night out in Weston-super-Mare now have a safe place to go every Saturday night if they need any sort of help, North Somerset Council has said.
Mavis (multi-agency vehicle in service) provides a hub for police, ambulance, street wardens, street pastors, licensing, and other local agencies, enabling them to offer immediate assistance to ensure people enjoy a safe night out.
Thanks to volunteers from St John Ambulance the distinctive purple bus can now be found parked in Princess Royal Square every Saturday from 21:00 to 03:00.
Previously the bus had only been used at times of high demand such as pay day weekends and big events.
St John Ambulance’s volunteer area manager, Damien Macdonald, said it was all about “working together” for a safer Weston.
He added: “Everyone wants to have a good time at the weekend, but high spirits can sometimes lead to accidents or illness and that’s where we come in. With our first aiders close to the action ready to take care of people who are sick, injured or worse for wear, we’re making sure that, should anyone’s night out come to an abrupt end for any reason, they’ll be in safe hands.”
Mavis has a separate private medical area at the back of the bus for paramedics and trained first aiders to carry out their work, helping to divert people away from the hospital’s A&E department.
The bus is also linked by radio to licensed premises, the police and CCTV so staff on-board can monitor what’s going on in the town centre and respond to any calls for help.
Sergeant Mark Jenkinson from Avon and Somerset Police said: “Mavis provides an unrivalled operation which joins our partners together to provide a safe and friendly service. It is somewhere people can go to seek help, advice or even pop in just for a chat. Weston’s night life is fun, vibrant and safe. Mavis is part of that life and is something we, and our partners, fully support.”
A council spokesperson said that Mavis was now gaining national recognition.
Howard Pothecary and Harry Mills from North Somerset Council‘s Community Safety team were recently invited to the Home Office in London to give a presentation on Mavis at a conference on Safe Spaces in the Evening and Night Time Economy.
Mr Pothecary said: “A safe space is a collective term for schemes that provide triage, recovery and pastoral care to people out in the evening who may be drunk, have taken illegal drugs, or are lost or vulnerable. There are about 50 ‘safe space’ schemes established across the UK and, with Mavis, Weston is lucky to have something which many other locations are trying to learn from. Mavis plays a vital role in supporting vulnerable people and reducing demand on local agencies.”
The Home Office invitation followed on from Weston being chosen as one of 33 areas in the country to take part in the Local Alcohol Action Area programme which aims to generate economic growth by creating a safe, vibrant and diverse night-time economy.
Mavis can also be hired during the day by groups and organisations in North Somerset to use at their community events. For more information call 01934 427 265 or check out MAVISbus on Facebook.