- Sport : Mourinho to leave Real Madrid at end of season
- Sport : Alvez sends Omonia into Europa League, Olympiakos relegated
- Sport : Ferguson bows out after 10-goal thriller
- bail in : Further raid on BoC possible
- politics : Our View: Politics remains the art of the unattainable
- coffeeshop : Tales from the Coffeeshop: Hallelujah, the Cyprob makes a...
- banks : 'Why did ministers not blame bankers?'
- Cyprus : State provides €4m for student grants
- Ambrosiadou : Elena Ambrosiadou wins legal battle
- Anastasiades : Anastasiades calms concerns over UN document
Dedicated volunteers on hand to help Scandinavian revellers
JUST about any night of the week in Ayia Napa, thousands of young tourists head out to pubs and clubs, drink excessively and are left unable to function the next day.
However, a mission to help Scandinavian revellers stay safe and relatively sober hopes to help cut down on the hangover blues, whilst keeping an eye on vulnerable party animals.
The project co-ordinated by churches in Sweden and Norway, with the help of several hospitals, has sent volunteers onto the streets of the resort to encourage youngsters to pace themselves during their non-stop party sessions.
Known as the ‘Night Walkers’, and camped on two wooden benches on the notoriously rowdy Tefkou Anthia Street, Dag Folkestad and his team are on duty every evening from 11pm till 3am, handing out bottled water, chatting to tourists and helping those that have become worse-for-wear.
The group first started their work nearly five years ago, thanks to an initiative spearheaded by the Scandinavian Church in Ayia Napa.
Folkestad, a Norwegian and a journalist by profession, says that dehydration is one of the main causes of hangovers, and drinking water along with alcohol beverages can prevent those symptoms.
“Two hospitals in Ayia Napa have donated 4,000 bottles of water to hand out – we are basically a water stop,” he said. “Our slogan is ‘every second water’- meaning have a drink, then have a water. This is so people have a better water balance in their body. Of course they can keep partying, but they will have a better following day.”
Bjorn Rydberg, the dean of the Scandinavian Church, says the volunteers include people from all walks of life, but is manned mostly by older people who have families and ‘life experience’.
“One of our volunteers is 68, another is 70. We find the young tourists prefer to speak with older people,” he said, explaining that the volunteers from Sweden and Norway come for six-weeks and are changed every second week.
Unlike the central square, which is often the scene of fights and brawls, volunteers say the Scandinavian district of Ayia Napa is quite a friendly place and most of the time people are getting on well and having a good time.
“They are really friendly, happy people, they are here to have a great holiday and party. We deal with mainly Norwegians and Swedes, but in the last week we have had a lot of Englishmen stop by as they head to the party area of Ayia Napa. They are amazed we give free water, they stop for a chat - it’s great fun,” Folkestad said.
For those they found in a distressed state, the Night Walkers often arrange ambulances or regularly provide First Aid to those requiring medical attention. Broken bottles left lying around the pavements causing anyone walking bare-foot to cut their feet is a common complaint.
“A lot of people get too drunk, they don’t know where they are and some lose their friends, so to find us - Norwegians and Swedes who are sober - it is a relief.”
He said many of the people he meets on a nightly basis are savvy to the dangers of the scourge of spiked drinks. Recent reports suggest that increasing numbers of women are claiming drugs or substances have been slipped into their drinks, leaving them dazed.
“Actually some people don’t dare to drink our water - or at least they challenge us to drink it first,” he said. “We tell people to be careful about where they put their drinks when they are out, just in case.”
Rydberg says he is also aware of the so-called date rape drugs.
“We tell people not to leave their drinks, keep them in front of your eyes- because you never know. We are trying to tell people to please be careful. Not to start any fights, be calm - take care of yourselves and your groups.”
Last week the British High Commission launched an initiative called “Holiday Hangover - Don’t over do it,” which supports people having fun but having fun safely. The scheme includes the distribution of wristbands, beer mats and posters that publicise emergency phone numbers for tourists that find themselves in trouble.