With festival season just about ready to kick off here in the UK we wanted to bring to your attention something that has gained a lot of support from festivals and festival goers alike.
There are many festivals across the UK that have signed up and are in full support of the Safer Spaces Campaign. Looking online there seem to be many different variations of this campaign all across the globe however, each having basically the same aim – creating an environment where people can feel safe when they are out at a festival, venue or just out and about, without worrying about being sexually assaulted or party to any other crimes.
Police have stated that there were 2 cases of sexual assault and rape at Reading Festival last year (2016) which is of course unacceptable. The worry is that these were just the reported cases. There have been, without doubt, other cases that have not been reported.
Another thing that Safer Spaces is trying to achieve is to have trained people on site at the festivals, people who are able to deal with such crisis and who are able to offer victim support. Now, in an ideal world, we would be able to stop this from happening, end of, but, unfortunately there is just no way to monitor all people at festivals all of the time.
The AIF (The Association of Independent Festivals) is trying to raise awareness to let festival-goers know that if something were to happen to them, someone they know or they were witness to such a crime that it can be reported on site.
The AIF have stated that there is no widespread problem and that this campaign is just to raise awareness.
Don’t let this campaign and the messages scare you though as this is a positive thing and not a negative.
The AIF ran a survey for 4,000 participants and f those 4,000, 93% (3,740) stated that they did not experience any type of crime at a festival in 2016. This is a nice high percentage. Not great that the other 7% did experience some kind of crime but the festivals are working on knocking this down.
In support of the Safer Spaces Campaign, more than 25 of the festivals here in the UK are turning off and shutting down their websites for a day (from 9am for 24 hours) on Monday 8th of May as part of the zero tolerance campaign which in part is highlighting sexual assaults.
We do not have the full list but some of the festivals that are going dark for the day are, The Secret Garden Party, Bestival and Parklife.
On top of the website blackout on Monday a charter of ‘best practice’ which has been designed to get festival staff and volunteers the training they need to deal with instances of sexual violence has had more than 60 AIF members sign up, this is a very positive step into having people on the ground who can help vulnerable people in need at festivals.
We need to make our festivals and gigs a safer place folks and so, be fully aware of your surroundings when you are out and about and please, look after each other. If you see a crime, report it!