An initiative to look after students out on the town at the start of the new academic year is being rolled out to more cities.
Alcohol education charity Drinkaware is extending its scheme to Derby, Coventry and Leicester in time for freshers’ week this September, growing it to cover 14 towns and cities around the UK.
Along with local partners such as police forces, business improvement districts (BIDs) and local authorities, it works with bars, pubs and clubs to look after young people who may be vulnerable from drinking too much alcohol.
Designed for venues with a capacity of over 500, The Drinkaware Crew are extra members of staff who have received specialist training.
They mingle in pairs around the venue, wearing branded Drinkaware Crew clothing for easy identification, and offer assistance where needed, from helping vulnerable people get a taxi home and reuniting them with their friends to handing out water bottles.
As well as reactive support, they proactively promote a positive atmosphere, by talking to customers queuing to enter the venue, and engaging with them during the evening.
The scheme is currently running in Bolton, Cheltenham, Glasgow, Plymouth, Shoreditch in London, Cardiff, Swansea, Bristol, Birmingham, Exeter and Nottingham where it is being expanded to more venues this September.
The response to Drinkaware Crew has been overwhelmingly positive with venues reporting that the crews are helping to improve the safety and wellbeing of customers, as well as freeing up time for other staff including security and bar teams to focus on their jobs.
Venues also report that having Drinkaware Crew is helping to build and strengthen relationships with their local community.
Rommel Moseley, Drinkaware’s director of business development and partnerships, said: “We are pleased to be taking Drinkaware Crew into three new cities ahead of Freshers’ Week.
“Drinkaware Crew delivers clear benefits to customers, to other team members, and to the business overall. Venues that operate Drinkaware Crew are demonstrating their commitment to social responsibility and to ensuring a safe environment for their customers.
“We look forward to launching Drinkaware Crew in many more pubs, clubs and bars across the country.”
At The Garage in Glasgow, which has been operating Drinkaware Crew since October last year, deputy general manager Iain Alexander said: “We have a big security team here and they’re great, but on a busy night, they have to deal with other things so the Drinkaware Crew have taken the stress off them and other staff. We’ve seen countless benefits from having them – they’re here to stay.”
Security team member Grayson Underhill at Thekla in Bristol, which launched Drinkaware Crew in October last year, added: “Before Drinkaware Crew arrived last autumn, the security team was under pressure to look after the safety of the public as well as assisting with customers who had drunk too much, which meant members of the team were pulled away at times when we needed them. Now we work alongside Drinkaware Crew it’s all more efficient; they’re a real asset to Thekla.”
Earlier this year, Drinkaware also launched an Alcohol Vulnerability Awareness e-learning course to support smaller venues, giving customer-facing staff the skills and knowledge to identify alcohol-related vulnerability and support customers at risk from harm. The e-learning course is also used to complement Drinkaware Crew in larger venues.