Birmingham students launch Safer Dance to tackle sexual violence in nightlife venues

A Birmingham City University graduate has created a UK-wide initiative working with music venues and clubs to tackle sexual violence through a framework of support and guidance.

Safer Dance has been created by Birmingham City University graduate Sam Hennerley and business partner Jack Young.

The initiative is an holistic suite of tools that provide support, guidance and technology for nightlife venues to help reduce sexual harrassment risks and ensure a safer environment for all. It has been launched in partnership with risk assurance consultants RSM UK

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Sam and Jack have launched pilots in three major nightclubs in Birmingham, Liverpool and London on June 15 2022. The names of the pilot clubs are not being released while the initiative is ongoing.

The duo have launched a pilot in three clubs.

Why is Safer Dance needed in nightclubs and other entertainment venues?

Safer Dance has been created in the wake of a drink spiking wave that caused alarm for many in the past year.

In 2021 there were 247 cases of spiking reported to West Midlands Police - 174 were female, 51 were male and 22 were unspecified. A total of 167 of those were in Birmingham. Victims were aged between 14 and 80 and most took place inside pubs and clubs over weekend days.

Jack Young said: “After living in Ibiza and travelling to festivals and events around the world, I witnessed a dark side of the music industry relating to cases of sexual violence, security incompetence, blackmail and drug abuse.

“In coming back to the UK and starting my business I knew I wanted to offer support where possible to help eradicate these issues. By ensuring venues have the correct mechanisms in place to manage risk, music fans and clubber spaces can be safer and more enjoyable.

“We are delighted to be at a stage where we can support venues around key business risks with our mission to improve nightlife safety for everyone.

“Our collaborations with RSM UK, organisations like RSVP and movements such as MeToo helped to make this possible.”

Sam Hennerley said: “Jack and I have been involved in the night-time economy over the past five years and through conversations with the public and our own contemporary research, we became aware of the issues that are common in certain environments, such as at live gigs and club nights.

“To change the attitudes towards sexual misconduct, accessibility to information, guidance and support has always been at the forefront of our thinking.

“We see the self-assessment tool as the first step for venues to start taking further action to improve fan and staff safety.”

Safer Dance co-founders Jack Young and Sam Hennerley

What are the next steps for Safer Dance?

Sam and Jack have been working on Safer Dance for the past 12 months. Following the launch of Safer Dance the team are exploring ways to embed the initiative into the University’s Student’s Union.

The next step for the duo is to work closely with local authorities in the Midlands to improve overall nightlife safety

Safer Dance is also being supported by Birmingham native and techno DJ Rebekah - who in 202 created a campaign called #ForTheMusic.

DJ Rebekah named the initiative after women and LGBTQIA+ members of the electronic music scene who want to enjoy music events and gigs without being harassed or fearing for their safety.

Paul Callum, associate director at RSM UK, said: “Managing sexual harassment can be challenging for venues, so having a risk management framework provides them, their staff and their customers with the confidence that they take safety seriously.

“As clubs and venues have emerged from the pandemic, they have faced a whole new world of uncertainty and nervousness among customers, regulators, investors, social agitators and government.

“Businesses are therefore seeking to formalise and strengthen the management of key risks, and Safer Dance helps progressive business leaders in the night-time economy to do that.”

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