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Spotlight on … Bar Volunteering

Do you really know what it’s like to spend time on the other side of the SLT bar? We spoke to Bar Volunteer, Naomi Liddle about her experience of volunteering at the core of SLT’s social community and this is what she said:

So, why would you suggest members should follow your example and get involved with volunteering for the SLT Bar?
Volunteering for the bar was one of the first things I did when I joined over 13 years ago, and I’m still a regular now. The bar is in many ways the beating heart of SLT so doing a bar shift is, to my mind, the quickest way to really get to know the place and to make new friends.

If you’re behind the bar, you’ve always got an excuse to talk to people and you’ll be surprised how fast you get to know both the regulars and other newbies. People are very welcoming and patient and in no time you’ll really feel like you belong. It’s invaluable for networking too – many a stage manager or lighting and sound operator has been recruited at the end of a night in the bar!

How easy is it to get involved and what special skills or experience should I have?
No experience needed – quite literally! Many of our most regular bar volunteers had never poured a pint in their lives before volunteering at SLT. The tablets and card payment system we have now make it simpler than ever – you don’t even need to add anything up or calculate change, so you don’t even need to exercise your mental arithmetic! Just sign up for a training shift and we’ll show you the ropes in no time.

How much of a commitment would you say it is?
As much or as little as you want it to be. We strive to keep the bar open every night from our bank of volunteers, but among those there are some that might be down on a regular basis while others will pop in every once in a while when their schedule allows. Every little helps! Of course, the annual Bar League Trophy Shield which is awarded for the highest number of shifts can be quite the incentive, once you get going. You might’ve seen it hanging on the wall by the door.

What do you think might be stopping more people from volunteering for the SLT Bar?
We often hear that people are put off by the responsibility of having to lock the building up at the end of the night. I don’t know why really, as this simply involves a walk around the building making sure all the rooms are empty, that windows are closed and that the building is safe before setting the alarm when you leave. It can seem daunting at first but it is honestly not that onerous – it’s a five minute job and there is almost always someone still around to keep you company. It is unusual to have to leave any later than 11.30pm and in all my time manning the bar I’ve never had any trouble. In fact, it’s quite nice being the one to tuck the old place up for the night.

How would you describe the experience of SLT bar volunteering in three words?
Social. Rewarding. Fun.