Staying Safe Abroad and on your SLV.Global Placement
Heading abroad to participate in one of our placements is an exciting venture! Maybe you're a seasoned traveller with more stamps in your passport than you have pages, or maybe you're a novice and about to get on a plane by yourself for the first time. Either way, your personal safety is paramount. We've compiled this list of handy tips to help you put safety first as you travel the world.
Duh! No, but seriously. Dehydration is the number one cause of illness abroad. Our lovely bodies are made of 75% water, so make sure you're keeping yourself hydrated to stay healthy! Ending up in a hospital hooked up to an IV drip for the day, or longer, is no fun and being dehydrated makes it almost impossible to fight infection or combat tough germs, so a runny nose can grow into full-blown flu if your body can't cope with all the nasties in your system. Hydration for the nation!
Addressing Unwanted Attention
Sadly there are unsavoury characters everywhere and as much as we hope you don't encounter any, we also want to pass on a few simple bits of advice to help keep yourself safe from those with a tendency to get a bit handsy or overfamiliar on public transport or on the street. But just remember, nothing you do or do not do gives anyone the right to harass you, touch you, speak badly to you or make you uncomfortable. Nothing. Ever.
1. Stay together. Try not to separate on the buses and sit with your friends. If you see that one of your crew is uncomfortable, don't be afraid to step in and rescue them. Prevention is better than cure. Please avoid walking around alone too. You'll never be scheduled to head out by yourself to any projects, so try to stick to this rule in your free time too. If you are ever uncomfortable, please try and get help and always let us know if you've had any unpleasant interactions with anyone during your time on placement with us. Your safety is our #1 concern.
2. Don't give out your personal details to strangers. I know this sounds obvious, but trust us, you meet some of the loveliest people abroad that the temptation is just too real sometimes to give them your phone number or your Facebook info. However, often this leads to late night phone calls or inappropriate messages, which can be uncomfortable and is not what you need when you're just trying to live your life.
3. Put a ring on it. Bling yourself out and tell anyone you're not keen on, who may be trying to engage personally with you, that you're in a relationship.
4. Read up on cultural and societal norms and expectations in the country you're visiting. Please be aware that these can be different than you may be used to, and vary from country to country. Things like drinking and smoking in public are uncommon in parts of the world, especially for women, and can attract negative attention. What can we say? #Patriarchy.
Please read up about the cultural expectations and practices of your destination country before you go, so as not to cause offence or create confusion when you travel. There's plenty of resources available online to help you prepare like national government websites, travel sites like Lonely Planet and even our own helpful blog. Knowledge is power!
Supportive Stance/Supportive Presence
This one's for projects and many of you reading this, if you've worked in the mental health or SEN sectors before, may be familiar with the Supportive Stance, or Supportive Presence as it is sometimes called.
Many of the service users you'll be working with have mental health concerns, learning disabilities or behavioural issues. As a result we want you to be as safe as possible running your sessions. If you're seated, try and always work so you're slightly parallel to the service user and not directly in front of them, so that if they were to stretch out their arm you could lean to the side quite easily and avoid their touch if necessary.
While running physical activities you always want to stand slightly to the side of a service user with your legs spread slightly less than you would to go into a "lunge" position. This is called the Supportive Stance/Presence and is a helpful way to avoid any potentially aggressive contact easily by stepping to the side and out of the way. You can see this clearly demonstrated in this video at 0.33.
Bring Back the Bumbag
Safety > fashion. Travelling with backpacks to and from projects is a given. They're great for lugging around your project pack, resources and all the awesome plans you have for your daily sessions. However, keeping your money, phone or valuables in these vessels of convenience is a no-no. It's all too easy for a crafty pickpocketers' fingers to find their way into your bag when it's behind you or for you to forget to zip a compartment and for something to fall out. If you're wearing a bumbag you've got all your most precious stuff where you can see it and access it easily, plus you'll look ultra cool.
Don't Be Out too Late
It gets dark early in the places where we work. Real dark, real early and unfortunately the local street lighting is in need of massive improvement. Falling, slipping and being harassed are all more likely to happen under the cloak of darkness. On placement we have a curfew, which is in place to protect you, and we ask that you respect it so that we can account for you and know you're safe when darkness falls. We also ask you to be careful when getting lifts in the evenings too. Always try to hop in a authorised taxi or tuk tuk to help ensure you aren't just getting into a stranger's car. You wouldn't do that at home. At least we hope you wouldn't! If you need to be out after dark for any reason, like the beach party is just too lit to leave, please stay with a buddy and have each other's back.
We hope you find our tips useful and that you have a fun and safe time with us on placement and wherever else you choose to travel onto after.