In March 2018, Best Bar None Scotland announced the winners of its 2017-2018 Awards, including the Innovation in Social Responsibility category, sponsored by Drinkaware. This was our second year of involvement with the award scheme and, once again, we were impressed by the standard of entries from operators across Scotland.

Innovation in Social Responsibility

The Innovation in Social Responsibility award went to Johnny Foxes and the Den, a vibrant late night music venue and bar in Inverness. They saw off competition from a strong shortlist of seven pubs, bars and clubs, all of them running excellent initiatives around social responsibility.  Choosing a winner was a challenge and all the finalists deserve praise for their achievements.

Johnny Foxes edged the top place by going ‘above and beyond’ on social responsibility; the breadth and variety of the different schemes they have put in place to ensure the safety of their customers impressed all the judges and earned the venue a near-perfect score.

From operating the ‘Ask for Angela’ scheme that offers women a safe way to escape potentially threatening situations, to providing a safe waiting area and free taxis, as well as offering spare shoes and flip flops and serving food until close at 3.00 am, it’s clear the safety of vulnerable customers is a priority at Johnny Foxes. Staff have received bystander training, equipping them to support customers at risk of sexual harassment, as well as training to support customers with disabilities or mental health issues. The venue is also a member of the local Business Improvement District, PubWatch and ‘Operation Respect’.

Finalists all demonstrate commitment to customer safety

There were plenty of excellent initiatives at other finalist venues. To name but a few, Kitty Kilty in Paisley was praised for its floorwalkers, and its engagement with local schemes including BRAW – promoting lower alcohol messages – and Purple Flag, while WG13 in Kilmarnock scored points for its policy of offering free drinks for designated drivers.

Staff training was evident at all the shortlisted venues and it’s clear that the best operators invest to equip their teams with the right knowledge and skills to support vulnerable customers.  Drinkaware has worked alongside operators to develop two training tools: Drinkaware Crew training, for bars and clubs with a 500+ capacity and, for smaller sites, an Alcohol Vulnerability Awareness e-learning course.

Drinkaware Crew supporting the welfare of young people on a night out 

Drinkaware Crew are additional members of the venue’s staff team who are specially trained to support young people who may be vulnerable after drinking to excess. They now operate in 17 areas, and clubs and bars who have introduced them are unfailingly positive about their impact, reporting that they help to improve the safety and wellbeing of customers, as well as freeing up time for other venue staff.

For smaller venues, Drinkaware’s Alcohol Vulnerability Awareness e-learning course gives customer-facing staff the same skills and knowledge that underpin the training for Drinkaware Crew. It includes scenarios with different types of vulnerable customers to illustrate how staff should respond to them and asks questions after each of the three modules.

The bars and clubs on the Best Bar None shortlist demonstrate not just best practice in social responsibility, but a real commitment to ensuring the safety of all their customers. We hope that by shining a spotlight on these operators, the award scheme will encourage others to raise their game. Drinkaware is proud to be a sponsor of this excellent initiative and we look forward to seeing new developments from Scotland’s best bars, clubs and pubs in 2019.