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Help Musicians announces new helpline to support people experiencing bullying and harassment

By | Published on Thursday 27 January 2022

Help Musicians

Help Musicians has announced that it will launch a new helpline to offer support and guidance to musicians and music industry professionals who are experiencing bullying and harassment. The new service will go live in March.

It follows increased debate within the music community in recent years about bullying and harassment within the sector, and especially the challenges faced by people who are basically freelance – which includes most artists and songwriters – and who therefore don’t usually work in companies which, in theory at least, should have formal systems to deal with such problems.

Rebecca Ferguson has been particularly vocal on this issue, of course, while organisations like the Musicians’ Union and the Incorporated Society Of Musicians have pursued various initiatives, including the MU’s Safe Space programme, which offers advice and sign-posts support services to those experiencing bullying, harassment or other abuse while working in music.

The new Help Musicians helpline will seek to complement these existing schemes, and will sit alongside the music charity’s other initiatives to support the health and wellbeing of the music community, including its Music Minds Matter service.

The charity explains that it is “acting upon the need for more support for those experiencing bullying and harassment, with the new service providing emotional support, guidance on how to raise and resolve the issues being experienced, and advice on rights and avenues for formal action where issues cannot be resolved by other means. The service is not only being offered to professional musicians, but also to those working within the wider music industry”.

The helpline, which will actually be operated by an independent third-party organisation that already runs similar services in other sectors, will also “provide anonymous data to shed more light on the issues being experienced and to inform the collaborative efforts for positive and permanent change across the music industry”.

Formally announcing the new helpline, Help Musicians’ CEO James Ainscough says: “Bullying and harassment is an industry-wide challenge that requires a collaborative response. The creation of the helpline is a vital first step and Help Musicians is well placed to provide this service, as an independent charity. But this is only one part of the solution, and we look forward to seeing industry-wide standards and culture change that eventually leads to our service becoming redundant”.

“The anonymous insight we will gather through this service will shed more light on the issues being experienced and help to target the collaborative efforts for positive and permanent change across the music industry”, he adds. “This is a vital service, and we ask for everybody’s help in promoting awareness once we go live in March, to ensure that individuals who need it will know that they can call for support at any time”.

Campaigning by Ferguson and others has also prompted the UK government to look into issues around bullying and harassment in the wider creative industries, including the music sector.

With that in mind, Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries has welcomed the new support line, stating: “Bullying and harassment have no place in society, and it is pleasing to see this fantastic new resource being made available to those who work in our world class music industry. I have heard first hand the experiences of those who have been subjected to bullying and harassment and I am committed to continuing to work with the industry to tackle the issue”.