How can pubs look after students during Freshers’ Week?

By Stuart Stone contact

- Last updated on GMT

Vulnerability fears: Drinkaware is offering help during Freshers' Week
Vulnerability fears: Drinkaware is offering help during Freshers' Week
Alcohol education charity Drinkaware has published Freshers’ Week tips for pubs and bars targeting new and returning students this autumn.

As pubs prepare for the start of the new academic year in September, Drinkaware has urged operators to ensure that they’re creating a safe environment for students.

Both Drinkaware Crew training, now delivered in 21 areas across the country, and the e-learning course, can help bar staff recognise and deal with unwelcome aspects of a night out for young people, including drunken sexual harassment.

Last autumn, Drinkaware also launched It’s OK to ask​ – a campaign to encourage bystanders to intervene safely when they witness sexual harassment.

Easy for things to go wrong

Drinkaware director of business development and partnerships Rommel Moseley said: “Many students enjoy alcohol responsibly during Freshers’/Refreshers’ Week without causing any harm to themselves or others.

“However, the sheer number of students visiting pubs, clubs and bars at the start of term inevitably means a raised likelihood of alcohol harms. Responsible operators will want to create an environment that both helps students to moderate their alcohol consumption and supports those who might become vulnerable after drinking too much.

“Freshers are particularly vulnerable, being away from home and family, perhaps for the first time, in a new city, with a new group of friends who may have different drinking behaviours. In this period of adjustment, it’s easy for things to go wrong.

“We’d encourage operators to put plans in place now for Freshers’ Week, and explore the resources Drinkaware can offer, which include our Drinkaware Crew teams and Alcohol Vulnerability Awareness e-learning course for staff members.” 

“Operators can play their part by supporting bystanders who come to them for help and by taking the issue seriously, helping to foster a positive and safe social environment where drunken sexual harassment is not tolerated.”

Freshers’ Week tips from Drinkaware

Make sure your staff know how to relate to students who become vulnerable after drinking -​ The Drinkaware Alcohol Vulnerability Awareness e-learning course equips staff with the knowledge to spot vulnerable customers and offers practical advice on how to best support them. The training includes scenarios involving different types of vulnerable customers in order to illustrate a broad range of appropriate staff responses.

Interact with students as they queue outside your venue -​ This allows staff to set a positive tone for the evening and provides an opportunity for team members to identify customers who may need assistance later on.

Offer an interesting range of soft drinks -​ This not only provides an option for students who aren’t drinking alcohol, but also means team members can encourage those who are to switch to a soft drink once or twice during the evening.

Include low or no-alcohol beers -​ Also review your wine list to include house wines at the lower end of the ABV scale. Also offer wine in a 125ml glass and publicise the fact that this smaller size is available.

Offer affordable, filling food -​ Students won’t want to spend much on meals, but having something available at a low cost to slow the absorption of alcohol is a good idea.

Make it very clear that you won’t serve alcohol to customers who are drunk or those attempting to buy for a drunk friend -​ Drinkaware and the British Beer & Pub Association have produced two posters to help communicate this to customers – ‘Can’t get served’ and ‘Mate’s in a state’, which can both be downloaded from the Drinkaware website here.

Related topics: Health & safety

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