It’s Saturday afternoon, sunny with a slight breeze, and for about 10 minutes I’ve been walking aimlessly around the winding junction that is Charing Cross. I’m trying to find Chinaski’s: a place I’ve a great deal of good about but never managed to actually locate. I’m here to interview Libby Dougall, founder of the new community collective Get Back.
I’m already ten minutes late. I dart into the first place I see to ask for some directions. “Excuse, you couldn’t tell me where Chinaski’s is, could you?”, I asked. “You’re in Chinaski’s”, the barman responded, amused. Jackpot. So I walk through the bar, victorious, to meet Libby round the back. For those who don’t already know, Cornerstoned are hosting a fundraiser for Get Back this weekend, and I’m here to get the low down on what Get Back are all about. The fundraiser is shaping up to be a successful evening, and this could be the first of many Cornerstoned and Get Back collaborations, so we thought it pertinent to introduce Libby, and allow her a platform to explain and promote Get Back to those not in-the-know.
CP: Thanks again for making the time to talk to me today, would you like to begin just by introducing yourself and the collective that you represent?
LD: Sure! I am Libby, I work in bars around Glasgow, as do all the people I’m trying to help! Get Back’s goal is ultimately to protect people working in the service industry, people who are working extremely late nights in big cities. It’s a big issue for people, like me, who have to make their way home after working the late shift and may come across some drunk people on the way. People in that situation are prone to receive verbal and, in some cases, physical assault. This type of thing can be mitigated on licensed premises, but when you’re out on the street in the middle of Glasgow at 4am, you’re left to fend for yourself. It’s not fair that people are being put at risk simply by being made to make their own way home after a shift at work, so Get Back’s goal is to provide these people with transport home.
CP: That’s fantastic! There’s a lot of room for a service like that, I’m sure that everyone knows at least one person who’s been subjected to a situation like the one you’ve just described. How would you go about providing people these people with such a service?
LD: We hope to launch an app. Tinder meets Uber, but safe rather than sexy. We hope that through this app, we will be able to offer people free or subsidised travel. This isn’t just for bar staff either, this would extend to kitchen staff, front of house, security staff, or anyone else who is finishing their shift late and feels unsafe walking back home.
CP: You yourself work in a bar in the town; presumably if you’re starting this sort of service then you would have some sort of connection to the cause. What inspired you to create Get Back?
LD: Ah! Sad story, actually. I was walking home one night, it only takes fifteen minutes to walk home from where I work, and the taxi ranks are always super busy, not to mention how expensive they are! Part of that walk home includes jumping onto Sauchiehall street, and anyone who’s been there past 3 am knows that it’s absolute chaos. Verbal abuse is a constant, but one day the verbal abuse escalated into a physical attack. Nothing too serious, a few bumps and bruises, but it was completely unnecessary and avoidable. In my case, it was all right, but in other cases it might end as well as it did. The more I spoke about it to my friends, the more cases I became aware of. We then ran a survey through Get Back that indicated that the issue was way bigger than even I first anticipated. It’s a problem, and there’s no solution in place, so I’m trying to be that solution.
CP: What sort of people/groups are you getting in contact with to help promote what you’re trying to do with Get Back?
LD: Being someone who works in the bar industry and has a love for art and music, I have a lot of friends who are artists and creative. By collaborating with artists and bands along the way, I’ll be sticking by the people that I’m trying to help, as most young artists in the city will be getting by through working bar jobs, as well as other service jobs that may well not end until the early hours of the morning. If we put on events like the one we’re doing with you guys, where the focus is on local bands or artists, then we will ultimately bring ourselves closer to our target audience, it’ll maintain interest. Obviously, our financial support will not be dependant on these people, I’m in talks with groups such as Better than Zero and Investing in Women, and I’ll be sourcing the funds externally from groups such as these. But when it gets down to it, it needs to be in the attention of the people that are going to benefit from it. Therefore it’s important to create a brand that involves itself within the culture that it is trying to help, and that means getting involved in the local music scene.
CP: So what can we expect from Get Back in the future?
LD: Well, our plan at the moment is to gather interest and gather funds, as well as getting the app off the ground. The app is what’ll bring the whole thing together, so once that’s up and running we will then broaden the scope of the operation to the rest of Scotland, bring it to the government’s attention and work out a way in which they can get involved. If we could make it legislation that the government has to pay, or at least help pay for your safe journey home after a late night’s work, then that would be incredible. The only thing is, I know what business owners are like, if it becomes legislation that they have to pay for their employees to get home, then they’ll find ways around it. They’ll only hire people who lives 2 mins away, or something like that. I think it’ll have to be government subsidized. That’s the dream. It’s mad that government subsidized taxis aren’t in place already to be honest. Get people back safe!
CP: On that note, thank you for very much for the chat! I look forward to seeing you at the fundraiser!
LD: Thank you!