Safe Bars is a nonprofit with the mission to help bars, restaurants, breweries, and other alcohol-serving spaces create safe and welcoming cultures for patrons, and safe and respectful workplaces for staff. Its curricula empowers women, girls, LGBTQI+ people, and others targeted for harassment, abuse, and assault. It is one of our favorite organizations.
The Safe Bars Board of Directors recently named Amie Ward the new Executive Director of Safe Bars. assuming the role from founding director Lauren Taylor, who has been at this work for more than 40 years.
“We are absolutely thrilled to appoint Amie as our new Executive Director,” says Dr. J Jackson-Beckham, President of the Safe Bars Board of Directors. “The first thing that anyone will see in Amie is her boundless energy and genuine commitment to the work of preventing gender-based violence.”
We figured we’d take this occasion to introduce you to Ward and re-introduce you to the idea of active bystander training.
Ward will manage day-to-day operations for one of the nation’s leading providers of active bystander and deescalation training and education for hospitality industry professionals. Ward has worked in the hospitality industry for more than 25 years, having begun as a dishwasher in a Maryland crab house and hitting her stride running high-volume bar programs and events. Ward’s passion for health, wellness, and safety in the service industry inspired her to launch The Healthtender, through which she travels across the United States to educate bartenders on how to care for themselves mentally and physically and teaches free movement classes for bartenders internationally.
“I’m excited to pass the torch to Amie. She has the skills, energy, and experience to guide Safe Bars, and I look forward to watching the organization grow with her leadership,” says Taylor.
What is active bystander training and why does my brewery need it?
The Safe Bars came to our attention first via the Safe Bars P.A.C.T. Initiative to craft breweries develop codes of conduct and provide Safe Bars Certification Training.
The core of Safe Bars training is being able to pick up on problems and take action. If staff sees disrespectful behavior, it is within their power and responsibility to do something about it. It creates a safer environment and also results in better business.
The No. 1 thing trainees don’t realize is: 75 to 90 percent of sexual assaults happen between people who know each other.
“People are already keeping an eye out for the creeper, but the vast majority of sexual assault is by someone the victim knows,” Taylor told us in this article. “I can’t tell you how many times people will have conversations in training and say, ‘I didn’t know if they knew each other.’ Well, if they knew each other, why is it different? The behavior is still problematic. … Pay attention to people who came in together. Friends, couples, and people who look like they are in a couple or on first dates.”
Training is important for expanding people’s minds about things they’re already doing. Some of the training isn’t necessarily new info for many in the service industry, as Taylor told us previously, and can be more of a skill swap for team members on the way to making these protocols official procedures for the business.
But much of the training is also empowering. Safe Bars trains people to stand up for themselves.
“Early on, workers in these spaces would say to us, ‘well that’s all well and good, but If I am being harassed, I don’t want to have to wait for someone to intervene – what can I do on behalf of myself?,” said Taylor.
As a result, Safe Bars introduced Empowerment and Self-Defense Training. Here, trainees learn how to stand up for themselves when harassed in the workplace, using assertiveness and boundary setting skills in tricky situations tied to their paychecks.
Anyway, if you haven’t yet, check out the Safe Bars PACT initiative and consider regularly training your staff to keep themselves and every patron safe.
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