Good Night Out Vancouver’s street team will be back in action again starting this weekend.
“Beginning this weekend, the Good Night Out Street Team will resume its work to help increase the sense of safety of vulnerable people participating in the nightlife economy on Granville St.,” the group said in a statement.
The street team is made up of four individuals that maintain a visible presence on the Granville strip on Friday and Saturday nights. The team is on the street from midnight until 3:30 a.m. engaging with patrons and supporting vulnerable people during those peak hours as bars and clubs are closing.
The street team first ran as a pilot project last fall. During the eight-week run, which ended in November, the team connected with hundreds of people and offered a number of services, including: assisting vulnerable patrons access public transit or taxis; liaised with licenced establishments to help ensure the safety of vulnerable patrons during closing time; support over-intoxicated people; acting as hosts to help increase the sense of safety in the Granville Entertainment District; sharing information about nightlife safety and harm reduction; and, helping patrons charge phones for safety reasons.
At a meeting in early May, Good Night Out Vancouver coordinator Stacey Forrester told city council that during the eight week pilot project the group found that 87 per cent of people they spoke to didn’t feel safe in, or moving through, the Granville strip, an area of town she noted as having a “very precarious” reputation.
“I get emotional when I think about how harassment and fear of violence prevents some people from partaking in the rich music, arts and culture aspects of our city,” she said.
At the meeting, council passed a motion directing staff to work with Good Night Out to secure a collaborative funding model to support the street team on a permanent basis.
In the meantime, the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association (DVBIA) has stepped up to fund the program for the next few months.
“The summer will be a pretty critical time for the street team to be out,” said DVBIA CEO Charles Gauthier.
The association helped fund the street team’s initial eight-week run last year, as well as for New Year’s Eve and during the Juno Weekend in March.
The team works closely with licenced venues, security staff and business owners to prioritize the safety of patrons and the general public. The street team members are trained in non-violence communication, first aid and overdose management and administering naloxone, and they are highly visible sporting peach T-shirts and matching backpacks.
Launched in 2015 by Forrester and Ashtyn Bevan, Good Night Out Vancouver was adapted from a similar campaign in the London. The group’s mandate is to increase patron safety in bars, clubs and other nightlife venues in the city, with a focus on the safety of women and the LGBTQ2+ community.
“GNO was founded out of an awareness there are certain factors present in urban nightlife that can contribute to these populations feeling unsafe,” the group said.
– With files from John Kurucz