At the time of writing, it’s been a year since we first locked down and a year since Paul Jones founder of Ethix Management set up the amazing ‘UK Live Event Freelancers Forum’ on Facebook. Paul set up the group “to try to bring together the industry freelancers and offer some helpful advice and share information to support one another”. Today the group has 15,400 members, so I think that Paul (and his team) have been pretty successful in building such a supportive and helpful community and I’m proud to be able to call Paul a friend.
I’ve been working in the live events industry for around 33 years and all of my colleagues and the majority of my friends are in the industry too, which means we have all been badly impacted by the lockdowns and the lack of live events.
Many of my friends would traditionally be out on tour for long periods, so the lack of events has seen them settle into a new life with many of them staying home to look after the children and home school, whilst their partner (who has a non-event related role) has gone out to work. I’m not belittling what they are doing, but changing roles like this is something that can take a mental shift. It’s no less or more important that their role out on tour, but it is different and it takes time and energy to adjust.
My young colleague Ben, and the new generation of event professionals knew that they wanted to work in events, and studied it at college before entering our world. My generation wasn't like this; most of us fell into events by stumbling across and then falling in love with this amazing industry almost by accident. When it shut down last year our industry freelancers and many permanent staff were faced with the prospect of no work and no idea of when (or even if) live events would return. Working in events is more than just a job, it’s a passion that seeps right into your bones and gets you hooked.
The mental health impact of having both your passion and your livelihood ripped away from you is yet to be fully understood.
The mental health of our industry colleagues is an issue right at the heart of the charity Music Support. They are promoting Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training courses and campaigning to raise enough funds to provide bursaries for 100 live event industry people to complete the MHFA training during 2021. They are doing this because they “believe that equipping and training industry peers is a key strategy in improving mental health literacy and prevention.” Their aim is to have a Mental Health First Aider on every tour and festival site to ensure that as our industry starts to rebuild again, we will be equipped to help everyone readjust and thrive again.
In 2020 they trained 123 industry professionals who represent 75 different companies across the UK. 100% felt the course had improved their personal confidence of how best to support others with a mental health issue.
Everyone trained will join an industry wide database so that any of our colleagues in the sector can get support and the correct signposting if they need it. This is something that we can all support and help with.
How can you help?
Donate whatever you can! Your support, however big or small, will go a long way towards the cost of Music Support running MHFA training online (now) and face-to-face (in the near future). It will also provide bursaries for peers to complete the training who are unable to afford the course fee during the current climate.
MHFA England values this course at £300 per person. You don't have to contribute the full amount to be part of this campaign. This is about us coming together as an industry to be a part of making a lasting difference to our industry.
To donate to Music Support’s MHFA campaign please go here
The UK Live Event Freelancers Forum can be found on Facebook here