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Safety means a lot of things at a festival, from the crew working safely to build the event, avoiding tent thefts, medical services and, of course, how everyone experiences the festival. Read on for an overview of what to expect at Shambala….

We strive to provide a space where festival folk from all backgrounds, abilities, ethnicities, ages, sexualities or gender identities feel welcome, safe and free to be their glorious selves. We do not tolerate discrimination, harassment or micro-aggression of any kind at Shambala – respect and celebration is at the heart of the ethos of the festival. 

We do not underestimate this task, and we are tacitly aware of the learning journey we have been on, and continue to be, to understand and navigate the lived experience, desires and needs of diverse and marginalised communities; including disabled and d/Deaf people, women and girls, the Global South and the victims of colonialism/imperialism, the LGBTQI+ community and Neurodiverse folks. We are committed to being a proactive ally, working with those with a deep understanding of these challenges, and being brave and honest in our approach.

Please explore the various headings below, to understand everything we do, ways you can get support on site, how we look to keep people as safe as possible during their time with us – and what’s new for 2024. 

HOW TO GET HELP & SUPPORT ON SITE:

If you require support whilst on site at Shambala, we want everyone to be as aware as possible of how to get help, quickly. We all have a part to play in looking after our community. If something doesn’t feel or look right, or you see someone who may be in need of support, be a buddy not a bystander. Asking if someone is ok goes a long way.

If you have concerns about a person’s welfare, please help them access the festival support services:

  • Check that they have friends with them, and if not, support them to get to the medical centre, welfare or public info tent, or;
  • Ask any steward, security staff, bar staff or venue manager for help – they are able to stay with people who need support, and ask a supervisor to radio for support.
  • There is also a 24 hour hotline phone number published for emergency use and contacting Event Control in the festival App information pages, and the Essential Guide and in the printed programme.

MENTAL HEALTH, WELFARE & MEDICAL: 

What’s already in place:

  • We have a fantastic and highly qualified Medical and Welfare provision at Shambala. It can be found on all of our maps – including in the Essential Guide, Printed Programme and festival app – and is open 24 hours a day. 
  • Our welfare team is ready 24 hours a day with a cup of tea and a calm space to help you with whatever you may need, with qualified Mental Health professionals.
  • Whilst drugs are illegal at Shambala – as they are anywhere else in the country – our welfare and medical team WILL NOT JUDGE YOU for being under the influence of illegal substances and our medical service is confidential. They have specialised skills and experience of supporting those who are having a bad experience – their priority is your safety – please never be afraid to present to the Medical and Welfare tents if you don’t feel right – no matter what you have taken.

..and what’s new for 2024:

  • We will be communicating more proactively during the festival about the existence and location of our Medical and Welfare services, so that we have the best chance of everyone at the festival being aware of the services and support we offer – this will include advance information with tickets, and communications onsite, during the show.
  • We are working hard with our medical and welfare provider to recruit more diverse teams, in an effort to remove barriers to accessing services.
  • We are providing a new, dedicated safe haven in the main arena, for those who need a break from the sensory overload of the festival.

DRUGS & HARM REDUCTION:

What’s already in place:

  • Shambala supports a harm reduction approach.
  • We are part of industry-wide initiatives that share information and intelligence between events on harmful substances  in circulation.
  • Our welfare and medical teams include professionals with a wealth of experience in supporting people with substance abuse issues, as well as addiction counsellors. They are on hand to support those who do take drugs and find themselves in need of help.
  • Members of our core staff teams have been on harm reduction training courses run by the The Loop
  • We warn our audience about any safety concerns regarding particular drugs found on site. Please download our free Shambala phone app to receive notifications.

..and what’s new for 2024:

  • We will be sharing resources, ahead of the festival, with both our audience, crew and artists – on the dangers of taking illegal substances – and the harmful and lesser known effects of mixing certain substances, or mixing substances with alcohol.
  • We will also be using our communication channels during the festival to reiterate the process for finding support if you, your friends, or somebody you encounter is not in a good place – due to intoxication, drug use, mental health issues or any other issue.

SEXUAL SAFETY:

What’s already in place?

  • We are proud to be part of an industry-wide initiative promoting sexual safety at festivals – we believe that everyone should feel (and be) safe at all times, and that any form of uninvited advance (physical or verbal) is absolutely unacceptable. 
  • Shambala is already a very strong and conscientious community, with very few reports of such incidents over the years, but we strongly encourage anyone who has experienced or witnessed sexual harassment to report it – we will take all reports seriously and take appropriate action. Don’t be a bystander!
  • We have a dedicated domestic abuse and sexual-assault lead on site with specific expertise and procedures to support victims.
  • We operate the Ask For Angela scheme on all our bars. If someone is making you feel uncomfortable and you need discreet assistance to remove yourself from the situation, ask any of our bar staff for ‘Angela’ – they’ll know what to do and will help you immediately.
  • There are multiple poster campaigns around the festival site, reiterating information about unacceptable behaviour and our zero tolerance approach to anybody spiking anyone’s drinks.

…and what’s new for 2024:

  • We will be extending our messaging on this topic pre-event, to increase awareness and safety for woman, girls and non-binary folk (and men).
  • This will include updated advice on spiking based on new national guidelines – awareness, how to report incidents, and the procedures in place to help you should this happen.

ACCESSIBILITY:

What’s already in place?

  • We offer free PA/Carer tickets to those who receive middle or higher rate DLA, PIP, Attendance Allowance, Nimbus Access Card with plus one symbol, a recognised assistance dog ID card, a certificate of visual impairment or are registered as d/Deaf. 
  • We also offer venue queue jumps and viewing platforms.
  • Our team of BSL interpreters can be booked to interpret specific performances.
  • We have a dedicated Accessible Camping Area and Accessible Parking Area, as well as a personalised shuttle bus service.
  • We have wheelchair accessible showers and toilets, alongside a RADAR key hire scheme.
  • We also have lowered bars to ensure wheelchair users are able to order drinks and access our bars without issue.
  • We also offer cold storage for medicines (please bring these in a labelled box to our Medical tent)
  • For more information on these services and how to access them, there’s heaps more detail on our dedicated Accessibility pages, here.

..and what’s new for 2024:

  • We have worked with Attitude is Everything, the leading advocacy organisation in the live events industry, to contribute to a new accessibility toolkit. See the guide here, with a Shambala case study. 
  • Invisible disabilities: We are working with our staff teams to train our onsite staff in awareness of disabilities that are not visible.
  • Neurodiversity – we will provide a new space this year, a safe haven for those who need a calm space to retreat to, located in an easily accessible space within the main festival arena. 
  • There will also be ‘Regulation Stations’ in both the Woodland Tribe & Playtopia areas – calm, supportive places for our younger Shambalans to step out of the buzz of the festival, should they need it.

DIVERSITY & INCLUSIVITY:

What’s already in place?

  • In 2021 we surveyed historically marginalised segments of our audience to better understand what we are doing well, what we need to do better, and how we improve their experience with us. The 3 groups were as follows: (1) Shambalans from underrepresented ethnicities, (2) Disabled, D/deaf & Neuro-diverse Shambalans (3)  LGBTQIA+ Shambalans. See a summary of the report here
  • We have a comprehensive diversity and inclusivity action plan in place that aims to increase representation across staff teams, volunteers, artists and audience
  • We have actively diversified our core team, venue managers and onsite crew over the past few years – and will continue to do so.
  • For several years we have been collecting data on the ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disabilities and age of our crew, artists and audience so we can benchmark and monitor our progress. For example, a survey in 2023 showed that 16.7% of our on site crew are from underrepresented ethnicities, compared to a national population average of 18%.
  • We recognise that cultural appropriation can make spaces unsafe, and have developed strategy and guidance to avoid this and help to educate our audience on this topic – see here for more information. We will continue to share this message in our pre-event communications to ensure it does not get missed.
  • We have worked for several years to educate our audience on microaggressions – what they are, and how to avoid them. This features prominently in both our printed programmes, festival app and our Essential Information Guides.
  • To work towards making Shambala more financially inclusive, last year, we piloted our Pay It Forwards: Share The Love scheme, where we gather donations from our audience, crew and artists, to create full festival access packages (Eg – tickets, food, drink, accommodation and travel) for those on low incomes who have never been able to attend due to financial barriers. Due to this initiative, in 2023, we were able to welcome groups of local young people who had been children in care, for their first festival experience – as well as service users of a local ‘community fridge’ food project. More information can be found here. 

…and what’s new for 2024:

  • We are working with our medical and welfare provider to recruit more diverse teams, so that if people need help, they may feel safer that the team supporting them includes people who reflect their background and lived experience.
  • We will use our on-site communication channels – such as the Shambala app notifications – to remind our community during the festival,  what micro-aggressions are, why they are not okay, and why they have no place at Shambala.
  • Whilst we have traditionally had very few reports of bad behaviour at the festival, we learnt from our work with audience focus groups that people have experienced micro-aggressions at Shambala, and that it can significantly affect their festival experience. We will now have a dedicated person with lived experience onsite, responsible for handling any complaints around racism, discrimination, harassment and micro-aggressions, and also as an advocate to help people feel safer in any kind of situation, such as welfare (on request).
  • We will also ensure the existing channels for making any of these complaints are well publicised – the reporting channels are as follows: via a steward who will take details and pass the incident on to the dedicated individual; at the campsite hub (found in every campsite); via a member of security; through the Shambala phone app feedback function; on the emergency phone hotline (as listed in the programme, app and essential guide), or at either of the Public info, welfare and medical tent.
  • After consultation and feedback from our Trans and non-binary community, we have made the decision to step away from our ‘Freedom Friday’ theme and replace it with something far more inclusive – as well as using this announcement and pivot as a chance to educate our audience on misgendering and inclusive language – you can read all about that here.
  • In 2024, we continue to scale up our Pay It Forwards: Share The Love campaign, and are partnering with Tickets For Good, to roll this out on a national level – to allow low-income individuals and families who are in receipt of Government Cost of Living Payments to apply to attend the festival on full festival access packages, with their tickets, food, drink, accommodation and travel, all covered. 

FINDING YOUR FRIENDS (..OR MAKING NEW ONES)

What’s already in place?

  • Due to the rural nature of the Shambala site, phone signal can be very poor, once thousands of people have arrived. However, public wifi points can be found at the Public Info point and at both our on-site pubs (The Wonky Cock and The Fuzzy Duck)
  • Whilst many people do come in groups, a lot of Shambalans also fly solo. Volunteering, eco-travel options and online line social media groups (such as our incredible, fan-run, Unofficial Facebook chat group) can be great ways to meet people in advance.
  • There are literally hundreds of group activities and workshops on site, that will help you connect with your fellow Shambalans – don’t be shy and get stuck in!

…and what’s new for 2024:

  • We are creating a new meeting point for those who have lost their friends to head to, to be reunited. It will be clearly marked on the map.
  • The meeting spot will also contain a public noticeboard where you can leave messages for one another – old skool style.
  • The meeting point will be located by staff and stewards – so if you are becoming worried that you can’t find your friend/s, there will be friendly faces on hand to report this to.

LOST & FOUND KIDS/ADULTS:

What’s already in place?

  • Should you lose your children, or should they lose you, our dedicated Lost Kids Team are at hand 24 hours a day. 
  • The Lost Kids Tent is next to the Medical Centre. Please report lost kids to any steward or official immediately and follow their advice – we have procedures.
  • If you are worried about someone (adult) or want to report them as missing, report it directly to the Public Info tent or Medial Centre. The festival will notify police and follow procedures.

A SPACE FOR GRIEF ON SITE:

What’s already in place:

  • Our ‘Love Shrine’ venue will again return this year, as a place for anyone who is missing somebody, or has lost somebody, to take a moment and reflect. 
  • Leave a note, draw a picture or write a postcard, and leave it on the shrine. 
  • As ever, on Sunday night, the messages will be attached to a firework and sent out into the universe.

…and what’s new for 2024:

  • Many in the Shambala community are feeling the loss of Gboyega Odubanjo at the festival in 2023 intensely, and the Love Shrine space welcomes anyone who is struggling with this loss.
  • For crew and artists we will also be offering other spaces for grief, backstage – however naturally, crew, artists and absolutely anybody are welcome at The Love Shrine also. 

AVOIDING THEFT & KEEPING YOUR STUFF SAFE:

What’s already in place:

  • We encourage people not to bring unnecessary valuables or cash to the site. 
  • Card payments are accepted at all bars and food traders.
  • Secure lock up services are available onsite (provided by CND) to store valuables – the lockers are marked on the festival maps and cost between £3 and £5 dependent on sizes. The lockers are run by volunteers, with all income going to CND.
  • Comprehensive steward and security deployment including covert teams.

We have worked hard to combat tent thefts at Shambala, promoting our Tent watch initiative:

Top ‘Tent Watch’ tips:

  • Be sensible with your stuff in your campsite/ in tents at night (e.g. don’t leave it by the door!)
  • Know your neighbours – create a community and look out for each other
  • Report ANYTHING suspicious or any thefts immediately to a steward, member of security team or staff at your Campsite Hub (every campsite has one) so we can respond quickly OR ring the onsite 24hr hotline (see printed programme, festival app or the Essential Information guide  for the number).

Please watch the short TENT WATCH initiative video here, which expands on the top tips on how to keep your stuff safe.

WE WELCOME FEEDBACK AND IDEAS.

We understand that we are always learning, and are committed to this journey to make Shambala a truly safe space for everyone in all ways. We welcome feedback, ideas, support and engagement – what else could we be doing? Please come forward with your ideas – Shambala is built on openness and participation.