'Around 1ish is the witching hour, that's when things start to kick off'

Trainee paramedics and student doctors on hand with Street Assist to help keep people safe on the streets of Edinburgh.

Scotland Tonight: Edinburgh Street Assist volunteers on hand to keep people safe on nights out STV News

It’s 9pm on a Saturday night, and Street Assist volunteers are bracing themselves for a long shift ahead.

The night before, the team was called to two alleged sexual assaults and multiple drunken episodes. 

They know it’s unpredictable – no two nights are the same.

Most volunteers are trainee paramedics and student doctors; armed with everything from first aid kits, to flip flops and foil blankets.

And what they witness on the streets makes them think twice about their own safety. 

Volunteer Alice told Scotland Tonight: “I would often just walk home by myself after a night out, but the more things you see – the more you think, I probably shouldn’t be doing it, you don’t want to be in that vulnerable position.”

After an initial patrol of the Grassmarket and Cowgate, the team gets its first call of the evening. 

It’s a young fresher, who only moved into student halls in Edinburgh that day. 

Her friends sought help when she collapsed on the pavement. Security staff from nearby pub The Three Sisters brought her inside. 

The Street Assist team works alongside staff to check her over, but she is unresponsive. She’s taken away in an ambulance; we later hear that she has made a full recovery. 

Throughout the evening, Street Assist handles various calls of that nature. 

George Street – home to some of the city’s most popular clubs – is another key area for patrols. 

Volunteer Liam says: “This is the busiest it’s been since December, January time. It’s around 1ish just now – and this is sort of like our witching hour, this is when it starts kicking off a bit more; a lot more people have been out for a couple of hours, so they’ve had a few more drinks down them.”

The team eventually calls it a night at 5am. But this weekend, they’re ready to do it all over again. 

Neil Logan, founder of Street Assist, says: “I don’t think many people leave the house of a night and say, I’m going to end up with Street Assist at 3 o’clock in the morning.

“Things happen, sometimes things can escalate quickly, way beyond your control.”

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