About this handbook

This handbook brings together protocols and procedures for the running of welfare (and information) services at festivals and other events.

The handbook builds on the Welfare and Information Chapter in the Purple Guide, giving more detail about how to approach some potentially sensitive situations and meet the needs of event organisers in supporting their audiences and enhancing positive customer care.

The topics and guidance covered has been developed from the experience of welfare services at many festivals and events since the 1970’s and is intended as a guide to quality care rather than a prescriptive solution, particularly as some events will already have well established procedures in place.

Potentially, welfare demand covers a very wide range of needs and realistically the welfare service cannot be expected to have the expertise to be able cover every eventuality. Therefore, it is important to clearly recognise the limits of the provision and when an appropriate referral needs to be made to another organisation. It can only offer a short term solution for someone while they are at an event.

In order to provide a good quality service, the welfare service will need support from the event organiser.

What type of welfare?

The type and range of welfare services needed at a particular event should be decided by the event organiser by undertaking a risk assessment. This should take account of factors such as audience type, size, entertainment, event duration, the site, other facilities, and anticipated weather etc.

Smaller, shorter events may have a combined welfare service covering many aspects, while larger and longer events may need specialist services to provide the separate welfare components.

If the event risk assessment indicates that a particular welfare issue is likely, such as people experiencing drug-related difficulties or many lost children, the event organiser or welfare manager should ensure services with suitable expertise, experience and resources are provided.

Where an event organiser requests an additional service, such as left luggage, this can only be provided with advance planning so that the appropriate procedures, equipment, insurance etc. can be put in place. The Welfare service should not be expected to provide this service within its basic remit.

Working with other services and clarity of roles

The welfare services should work cohesively, and co-operate with, other organisations on site and it is important that other organisations are clear about what specific functions the welfare team has agreed to provide and what they are not able to provide.

For example, unless arranged in advance, the welfare team cannot ‘transport’ casualties referred from the medical service around the site or to a pick up point. However, with advance planning it may be possible for dedicated welfare staff to work in the medical tent to assist with the return of recovered casualties, either to their tent or to a pick up point. They should not be involved in assisting with the provision of first aid.

As welfare teams often need to work closely with the medical service, the welfare tent should be located close to medical facilities, particularly as people may visit the welfare service first, rather than seeking help from another service. In some cases, such as when distressed people may have consumed too much alcohol or drugs; are experiencing a serious panic attack; or are suffering acute anxiety, medical services should be consulted before they are given support in the welfare area.

Welfare services work closely with the event security staff and stewards and it is helpful (and usually necessary) to have a steward/security person assigned to the welfare service. There are many situations when welfare needs to liaise with security, such as when a lift is being arranged to collect a distressed person. Welfare may also need some stewarding support when dealing with vulnerable or unpredictable people. Security/stewards must understand what the welfare service is unable to do, such as keep a person in the welfare tent who does not want to stay.

The welfare service needs to communicate closely with Event Control (or the equivalent) - for example, with regard to lost children or vulnerable people and other issues that may require support from outside agencies. The welfare team should also alert Event Control with information about any unusual incidents.

The welfare service should also co-operate with the police. For example, if the police are notified of a missing person, the welfare team can check their notes to see if the person has been in to use its services. The police may also want to check lost/found property in case items there have been linked to a crime.

When the welfare service is running the lost property system on site, other organisations, such as the site cleaners, need to bring found property to the welfare point as soon as possible. For this and other liaison (such as getting in the marquee company to check the structure or the cleaning company to provide supplies for cleaning a muddy or slippery floor in the marquee), it is usually best to go through the event organiser’s production or site office.

What the handbook contains

This handbook contains guidance notes, which assume that the welfare service manager wants to arrange a basic welfare provision (see Index of Guidelines).

While most of the guidance is addressed to the team members who will be providing the welfare service, some is directed more to supervisors or welfare managers. The guidelines are quite detailed, as it is important for all team members to follow the same procedures, whether they are volunteers, paid, experienced or novices, in order to ensure a consistent service. It is also important for the role of supervisor and manager to be understood. It is not intended that this guide should be prescriptive and users will need to adjust the services they provide to suit their event.

The handbook does not contain policy documents, which the welfare service will also need to prepare (e.g. for children/vulnerable adults; health & safety; confidentiality, sustainability etc.)

How the guidelines can be used

This handbook has been designed so that sections can be selected to form a reference set of procedures for a specific event or type of service.

Where the guidelines are used as the basis for briefing the welfare team before work starts, the welfare manager can supplement information about procedures specific to the event.

Appendix 1 ‘Setting up a welfare service’ (in the appendices) contains suggestions for the welfare manager to consider in the planning and preparation of a welfare service, including the recruiting of team members, the equipment likely to be needed, and other information that may be required for the service.

The Risk assessment/management document is a Word template and contains a table with possible hazards that could have an impact on the work of the welfare service. The table needs to be populated with the hazards that are likely to affect the service; details of who might be affected; and the controls that have been put in place to minimise the risks from these hazards.

The Form templates are best printed on different coloured paper to easily distinguish between them (e.g. print the Missing Child forms on blue paper; print the Found Child forms on yellow paper). The same can be done for the Missing and Found Property forms.

Points to note in drawing up an Event Welfare Handbook

There should be a contact (phone number and email address) for the welfare manager at the front of the welfare handbook. This is to enable someone to get further information about the work of the welfare service, to give feedback, make a compliment/complaint and for accountability for the standards and quality of the service.

  • The General Guidelines are usually sent to all the welfare team in advance as a briefing document
  • It is important to provide comprehensive information, so all the team knows what to expect in their work, especially if there will only be limited time for a pre-event or on-site briefing.
  • The General Guidelines need to be supplemented by detailed information about the specific event and expected working conditions.
  • It is good practice for the team to be asked to acknowledge receipt of the General Guidelines and confirm that they agree to follow the procedures.
  • It is useful to include the Welfare Team Roles description in the handbook, so that everyone is clear about the different responsibilities and expectations.
  • For the notes for Lost children, Allegation of sexual assault and Bereavement, it is useful to include contacts for other organisations (local and national) who can provide additional information/support.

The Safe system of work document should be included as it gives the team guidance on the health and safety principles for operating the service. It may also be requested by the event health and safety co-ordinator as part of the event health and safety plan.

Acknowledgements

This handbook has been prepared by Penny Mellor with a grant from the Event Industry Forum and with helpful and useful suggestions a number of people, including:

James Dean (T in the Park/Platform),
Steven Willshire (Festival Welfare Services),
Roisin Tierney,
Hannah Moorhouse,
Linda Krawecke (Tiger Tea)