Bristol nightclub boycott: ‘People don’t want to feel scared’ - says university student on drink spiking

Organisers say boycott of nightclubs tonight is ‘just the catalyst’ in the push for change

A student behind the Girls Night In movement in Bristol says a boycott of nightclubs in the city tonight (October 27) is ‘just the catalyst’ in the group’s push for change following a surge in spiking reports.

Anna, a third year Bristol University student, described a general feel of ‘vulnerability, fear and anger’ among the city’s young people after a rise in alleged drink and ‘injection’ spikings up and down the UK.

Movement Girls Night In has formed at least 13 groups in different cities and has planned nightclub boycotts in response to these reports from October 25 until November 3.

The Bristol boycott will take place tonight, on a Wednesday - one of the city’s busiest nights for students.

Speaking to Bristolworld, Anna said she was brought in to help monitor the Girls Night In instagram account, which has amassed thousands of likes and followers.

She said she receives messages every day from Bristol students who feel ‘helpless and intimidated’ and ‘can’t help but be hyper vigilant and scared’ by the spiking epidemic.

Anna said: “People don’t want to feel scared. They don’t want to be a ‘victim’, or violated. They don’t want their friends to be hurt. All of it can make people feel a bit numb or overwhelmed.

“Everyone’s reaction is a little different, all very valid.”

Outlining what Girls Night In hope to achieve with the boycott, Anna said: “Girls Night In fundamentally wants actions.

“The boycott is all about gathering attention, spreading awareness and applying enough pressure to get people, especially businesses like clubs and bars, to listen and act.

“We don’t want this to be a trend or a short term event. We will continue to push for change beyond the boycott. The boycott is more of a catalyst to begin the movement.

“We don’t want to attack the nightclub industry, just highlight real flaws that need addressing. The hope being people can soon go out and enjoy themselves.”

“As far as our specific aims we have three short term ones; Prevention, Welfare and Support.”

According to Anna, this includes factors such as comprehensive and regular training, the implementation of trained welfare officers, a clear and communicated zero tolerance policy and awareness posters.

But in addition, the movements wants businesses to take ownership over well-planned responses to spiking events and take responsibility away from victims to prevent their own attack.

“That logic is harmful and wrong,” Anna added. “We also aim to be as inclusive and intersectional as possible. We are aware spiking can happen to anyone, and people’s likeliness to report a case varies on backgrounds, sexualities, ethnicities and experiences with the police - to name only a few variables.

“It’s a complex subject and we don’t mean to simplify it. But we hope our core aims will be a strong starting block to creating a safer, more educated environment for everyone.”

Anna went on to say that Bristol clubs had been ‘very responsive’ to the group’s boycott plans.

This week also saw the launch of an anti-spiking campaign by Bristol at Night - a group working in partnership with Avon and Somerset Police, Bristol City Council and Bristol City Centre BID along with 100 venues.

It provides guidance and safety advice from its website.

Anna said: “I’ve spoken to many about new policies, training and jobs and many seem willing to listen.

“We need to see action, not just words, but some are advertising for welfare officers and many have implemented drinks covers.

“It’s not all been perfect but that’s why we will continue to push for change when needed and celebrate it when it comes.”