It’s now three weeks into the industry shut down that has forced most venues to close their doors.

In this time of devastation, we’ve seen some great positive action and innovation from the industry, giving people new ways to support bars without actually going to them. But for those in the industry, that becomes a bit hard, as disposable income is increasingly rare.

Amongst all of this, it’s easy to feel a bit helpless, wanting to help your industry but not knowing what can be done without spending money. So we’ve rounded up some of the best cost-free ways you can help below.

Join union campaigns

The hospitality arm of the United Workers Union, Hospo Voice, is currently offering free membership, so it’s never been easier to get involved with what they do. Their campaigns give you cost-free options to support the industry.

Recent COVID-19 related action you can get involved with includes the ‘I Lost My Hospo Shift‘ platform, and a call to #PutOutYourAprons. Both ask for people to help spread the stories of those struggling in the industry, raising awareness and lobbying for more government support for more workers.

Your state may also have localised union campaigns too that you can join in on. For example, Unions NSW are leading a coordinated effort to make more workers eligible for the Job Keeper payment – you can keep up to date with their news on social media.

Get involved with Keep Our Venues Alive

The Night Time Industry Association first started the Keep Our Venues Alive (KOVA) movement in March, to help support hospitality businesses. Garnering more support every day, KOVA’s mission is to help protect the sector and all the businesses involved with it, with a united voice.

You can add your voice by filling out the KOVA survey here, so they can help fight for you and your colleagues.

Support local movements

Recent analysis has indicated that Australia’s regional communities will be the most harshly affected by the pandemic, with some also battling the aftermath of the bushfire crisis and ongoing drought.

Movements calling for people to buy from the bush, help a farmer, or just generally shop and support local business are increasingly common and are adapting to the new normal.

You don’t need to spend money to help these movements – just following them, liking them on social media and sharing them around will do good. You can do this for businesses in your area that you know are open but need help, and also follow more widespread campaigns like Support Aussie WineriesGo With Empty Eskys or Hospo Threads.

One of the driving forces behind #GoWithEmptyEskys, Gareth Southam, told National Liquor News how spreading awareness can help, and said: “One of our major reasons [for the campaign] is to get people connected with the businesses that can still offer services, because some people might be thinking everything is closed and nothing’s really open. But we can re educate people, and engage them without breaking the rules.”

Back petitions

There are lots of petitions going around right now aimed at supporting the industry in different ways. Backing those that are pushing for changes you want to see can be an easy way to get involved and support positive movements.

Examples are often found on and also through the unions and organisations like those listed above. Melbourne based bar owner Huw Griffiths recommended doing your research with petitions to find out how you can support things that matter most to you.

“I think it’s important that, if we are lending or putting our name on a petition or lending our voice to someone, that we should make sure we’re doing it for the right reasons,” Griffiths said.

Engage on social media

Social media is one of the greatest things bringing us together from afar right now, so it’s an important tool to support the industry. By engaging with organisations listed above, or with any venue or brand, you’re keeping interest in the industry alive and helping keep positive conversations going.

When you’re up to date with what’s happening around you, it’s also easier to support local, and join in on other movements that are helping the industry. Australia’s bar community is extraordinary, and maintaining it through these connections will help in the difficult recovery we will face after the pandemic.

Knowing how venues and brands are reacting to the current way of life will also help you spend the money you do have in ways that can support your industry. For example, you could choose to get pantry staples from venues that have pivoted to become general stores, and buy from businesses that are actively looking for ways to support displaced hospitality workers.

Maintain the employer/employee relationship

Both sides of the employer/employee relationship have been through the toughest of times in the past few weeks, and keeping in touch with each other can be really valuable. No matter where you fit, make sure you know what options are available to you and the business, especially around the Job Keeper payment.

Beyond a business perspective, keeping up to date with your employees and employers may be good for mental health. It’s difficult for everyone right now and reaching out just to check in could make a world of difference to someone. Plus, when the pandemic is over, it will have a positive impact on your working relationship.

Get proactive

We’ve described some great movements and ideas above, but what you can do is not limited to just that. If you think of something that can be done, do it. Change starts with you.

Everything we’ve listed started with an idea and started with someone speaking up to do something about it. Even the smallest movements can have a huge impact.

As reported last week, a fundraiser started by three friends to provide care packages to struggling hospitality staff has already raised over $4000.

One of the friends behind it, Esther Tie, told Bars and Clubs: “It’s great to see players in the industry going out on their own to do the right thing, instead of waiting for the government or industry bodies to tell them to do so. Seeing people band together to make a difference restores faith in humanity in a time where community and industry are most vulnerable.”

It doesn’t have to be monetary – just be spreading positive news, real facts and the latest health advice can help quash misinformation and encourage people to follow the rules. Every effort to do this will help us pull through the pandemic quicker, and get the industry out of the lockdown sooner.

This story was originally published on Bars and Clubs.

Brydie Allen

Brydie Allen is the Editor of National Liquor News. She has been with Food and Beverage Media since 2019, when she joined the company as a journalist across National Liquor News, Bars & Clubs, The...

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