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Backup Tech provides financial support and wellbeing aid to live event industry technical professionals, crew and production personnel. Here, the charity’s chair Piers Shepperd outlines the ways in which it is helping event profs and provides details of newly launched campaign Are You OK?

The touring industry is an exciting place to work. It’s creative, it’s high octane, you get to travel to lots of amazing places, you become part of a touring family and get to put on brilliant shows, right? Right. But it’s also high pressure, involves long hours, unnatural sleep patterns and maybe months away from home. It means getting on a bus at the end of the show to go to the next one.

Unwinding at the end of an adrenalin fuelled gig (it’s not just the band that gets hyped) in all likelihood doesn’t mean having a cup of herbal tea and getting in your bunk for a good night’s sleep. It can understandably mean cracking out the beers and having a drink or two. And whilst there is often a feeling of camaraderie, there can also be a one of isolation. Maybe you’re not getting on with your crew mates, you’re homesick or just plain exhausted.

All of that can, and often does, take a toll on people’s mental health. That’s why Backup is working so hard, not only to de-stigmatise mental health issues, but also by enabling freelancers to access free Mental Health First Aider training (provided by Music Support), to ensure that in every crew there is at least one trained MHFA crew member for every 20 crew members.

 “We’re there for you in a crisis, but we also want to help with crisis prevention.”

If you’ve got someone on every tour that the crew knows they can go to if they’re having a problem, but is also trained to spot the signs that someone is struggling and knows how to approach them in the right way, then it’s going to help. Backup’s tag line is “We help people get back on their feet”. That means we’re there for you in a crisis, but we also want to help with crisis prevention, as we strongly believe it will help those at risk from stress, addiction and poor welfare.

We’ve also started an initiative called Are You OK? to signpost easy, confidential, and sensitive access to both urgent and non-urgent mental health support. Working with industry suppliers and venues, we’re providing a single point of access for the technical industry’s crew members and freelancers by utilising industry equipment, noticeboards, and venues to place prominent campaign posters with information and QR code providing direct access to support resources. We want to break the damaging stigma around mental health by allowing industry professionals a safe and confidential space to admit they may not be OK and signpost them to urgent and non-urgent mental health support.

There are already a lot of companies signed up to support the campaign, which is fantastic, but we want it to be industry wide. It’s simple to do; we’ve created the artwork to download, plus access to free stickers via Le Mark and inbuilt QR code on new cases via 5 Star Cases.

If you want to become a Mental Health First Aider, the training is free for freelancers via our AJ Bursary and you can find out more information at www.backuptech-uk, where you can also find all the details for the Are You OK? campaign.

This piece was featured in the Autumn edition of Access All Areas. Read the magazine HERE