200 Newcastle bar staff join Shout-Up! scheme

Shout-Up! is Newcastle City Council's latest initiative to combat sexual harassment

Evie Lake
6th December 2021
Shout-Up! is Newcastle City Council’s initiative that aims to tackle the prevalence of sexual harassment in bars and clubs that has defined public discourse recently. The scheme was launched in 2017 but has relaunched this month with 11 ‘certified venues’ which have been cemented as ‘sexual harassment-free zones’. 

The venues include The Cluny, The Old Coal Yard, The Cumberland Arms, Spot White, Powerhouse, Rusty’s, The Blonde Barrel, Holy Hobo, and Habita, Domain and Reds Bar (located in Northumbria Students’ Union), but Shout-Up! is looking to train and certify 35-40 more venues in the coming months. 

Shout-Up! training is targeted at giving venue staff the tools and knowledge to identify cases of sexual harassment, allowing them to intervene safely. The training will have to be refreshed every two years for venues to keep their certified status. 

To gain certified status, venues are required to carry out: Bystander Intervention Training, implementation of sexual harassment policies (thus protecting all staff and patrons), a publicly available procedure for dealing with sexual harassment, commitment to making the venue a sexual harassment-free zone, visible signage explaining participation in the scheme (including what patrons can do in the event of sexual harassment), and finally, the venues must pass six-monthly reviews on policies, procedures and training. 

The timing by Newcastle City Council is apt, with the spiking ‘epidemic’ still raging, and with reports of women being spiked via a needle in Newcastle, women need reassurance that venues know how to handle sexual harassment and assault. 

Speaking to Emma*, she disclosed an incident that happened in Market Shaker that made her feel uncomfortable and unsafe: ‘It was so busy and this guy started chatting to me, I chatted back but then said I wasn’t interested in anything more. He then started groping me continuously and, because it was so crowded getting served, I couldn’t really move. I told the bar staff and they literally just shrugged and then my friend told the bouncer and nothing happened.’

Shout-Up! is set to take the momentum and push it even further

Since this incident Market Shaker have been vocal about the prevalence of spiking in Newcastle and have implemented various policies to ensure the safety of their customers, for example, increased security, CCTV and drinks covers and testing kits available from the bar. However, it is evident that incessant experiences have seen women build up a distrust when it comes to reporting such incidents. 

Jenny* is a third-year student at Newcastle and she lamented the uselessness of reporting harassment to venue staff: ‘I’ve witnessed an infinite amount of sexual harassment in bars and clubs but have never seen a man being removed because of it. It’s gotten to the point now that I view a man touching me up whilst ‘trying to get past me’ as so minor and insignificant, it makes me quite ill when I think about it in retrospect.’

She continued: ‘I don’t think I’ve ever reported something like that, or ever will because they’re there and then they’re not. They easily get away with it because they’re just a pair of hands that disappear into the crowd.’ 

Notably, there has been a major shift in discourse around safety in Newcastle venues in recent months. Shout-Up! is set to take the momentum and push it even further. 

Ian Johnstone is the manager of Rusty’s and Blonde Barrel, two newly certified venues under the scheme: ‘Being a part of the Shout-Up! campaign and completing the Shout-Up! training has strengthened our management and bar staff’s confidence in recognising potential cases of sexual harassment, understanding how to safely intervene and help in various situations where getting involved can sometimes be tricky. It has given us the knowledge to ensure that our venues are safe spaces for all staff and customers’

The training will have to be refreshed every two years for venues to keep their certified status

Dawn Bowman overlooks Shout-Up! as well as working for the charity Rape Crisis Tyneside and Northumberland. Speaking about the initiative they said: ‘It’s clear there is a lot of work to do to make sure everyone, and women particularly, are able to enjoy Newcastle’s nightlife safely. Shout-Up! is just one part of the solution. We’re pleased to be working with venues that take this seriously and recognise their responsibility to our community' 

*Names have been changed.

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