What Safeguarding Advice Should Festivals Share With Audiences?

Mark Balaam, CEO and Founder of imabi

By Mark Balaam, CEO and Founder of imabi

Summer sees the UK’s festival season in full swing. Whether it’s music, art, or other cultural events, crowds gather in large numbers, creating vibrant and exciting environments. As festival organisers, it is crucial to ensure the safety and well-being of all attendees by providing them with comprehensive safeguarding advice. Here’s a detailed guide on what information to share and why it’s important:

Plan Ahead
Encouraging attendees to plan ahead is a cornerstone of festival safety. Preparation is key to a smooth and safe festival experience. Share detailed information about the event layout well in advance, including maps showing exits, medical tents, security posts, and other critical locations. This helps attendees familiarise themselves with the site and plan their movements accordingly. Advise them to establish a designated meeting point with their group in case they become separated – a common occurrence in the hustle and bustle of large events. Such foresight can prevent unnecessary stress and ensure that everyone has a clear plan in place.

Keep Valuables Safe
Theft can be a significant issue at festivals, where the large crowds provide ample opportunities for pickpockets. Advise festivalgoers to keep their valuables secure by using money belts or zipped bags that can be worn close to the body. Suggest that they bring only essential items and leave unnecessary valuables at home. Expensive jewellery and pricey gadgets often attract unwanted attention from thieves. To further enhance security, recommend the use of festival ‘lockers’ where attendees can store their belongings safely until they need them. Providing information on where these lockers are located and how to access them can greatly enhance the security of personal items.

Stay Hydrated and Prepare for the Elements
Highlighting the importance of staying hydrated and protecting against the weather is essential for attendee health and safety. The combination of summer heat, physical activity, and alcohol can lead to dehydration quickly. Encourage the use of water refill stations and the carrying of reusable bottles to minimise environmental impact and ensure a steady supply of water. Remind attendees to bring and regularly apply sunscreen, wear hats, and use sunglasses to protect against heatstroke. Equally, prepare them for the possibility of rain (we are in the UK, after all!) by recommending waterproof clothing and appropriate footwear. Detailed weather preparation tips can help prevent many common festival-related health issues.

Be Mindful of Surroundings
Stressing the importance of being aware of one’s surroundings can significantly enhance personal safety. Festivals are exciting but can also be overwhelming due to the large crowds. Advise festivalgoers to stay in well-lit, populated areas and to always trust their instincts. If something feels off, it’s important not to dismiss it. Encourage them to seek help from festival staff or security immediately if they feel uncomfortable or unsafe. Awareness of one’s environment can prevent many potential dangers and ensure a more enjoyable experience.

Look Out for One Another
Promoting a sense of community and mutual care among attendees is crucial. Festivals often foster a great sense of camaraderie, and encouraging this can enhance safety. Advise attendees to be vigilant and offer help to those who seem unwell or distressed. Alerting festival staff to any concerns can ensure that professional assistance is provided quickly. Emphasise the importance of watching out for friends and fellow festivalgoers, particularly in relation to alcohol or substance use. By looking out for one another, attendees can collectively contribute to a safer festival environment.

Know Your Limits
Providing advice on staying within personal limits regarding alcohol and drugs is vital. Excessive consumption can impair judgement and increase vulnerability to accidents or exploitation. Highlight the risks associated with excessive drinking and substance use, and encourage attendees to stay in control. Emphasising the importance of pacing themselves, staying hydrated, and eating regularly can prevent many health issues.

Use Technology
Inform attendees about safeguarding apps such as imabi Community and imabi Guardian, which can significantly enhance personal safety. These apps allow users to share their location with trusted contacts, keeping track of each other’s whereabouts in real-time. They also offer access to guidance and advice, and a reporting function for sharing concerns or seeking help and support when needed. Encouraging the use of these apps can provide an additional layer of security and peace of mind.

Help and Support
Ensure attendees know where to turn for help in an emergency. Clearly communicate the locations of medical tents and security posts and the services they offer, including support for mental health and substance misuse. Highlight the importance of familiarising oneself with these locations upon arrival. Encourage attendees not to hesitate in approaching these facilities if they need assistance. Providing detailed information on the types of support available can make a significant difference in emergency situations.

Festivals are meant to be enjoyable and memorable experiences. By sharing comprehensive safeguarding advice, festival organisers can help ensure that attendees stay safe and make the most of their time. Encourage attendees to stay safe, be mindful, and enjoy the festival season to the fullest. Proper planning and awareness can transform a festival from a potentially hazardous event into a secure, fun-filled experience for all.

By sharing this expanded advice, festival organisers can play a pivotal role in safeguarding attendees, ensuring that everyone can enjoy a fun and safe festival experience.