PROGRESS Wrestling issued the following press release on their company website updating fans on their new policies, manifesto, and changes made to the company following the #SpeakingOut allegations. Details can be found below.
First and foremost myself and James want to offer our continued support to all those impacted by the Speaking Out movement. Your voices will continue to be heard and these changes and clarifications of our policies are, in part, our attempt to acknowledge your bravery and to take positive action.
Specific measures brought in in light of the Speaking Out movement include: mandatory DBS checks being required for all staff and UK talent, only accredited people to be permitted backstage and the commitment to have a Lead Safeguarding Officer for talent and crew, plus the hiring of an Independent Wellbeing Officer to advise talent, crew and audience members.
Whilst we are not able to comment on individual cases we know the key to implementing change is through accountability.
We have created thorough documentation that talent and staff have to sign off on and are available from our website.
Codes of Conduct: Talent // Referees //Crew
Due to current work undergoing, the Disciplinary Procedural Protocol will be released at a later date.Going forward we have made it even easier for people to present any concerns they may have.
We have operated a media blackout to work hard on improving everything that we can both within PROGRESS and contributing to industry-wide changes in infrastructure. This has also been as a mark of respect to those who needed, and continue to need time to heal. Jon organised mental health counselling for talent and staff at the commencement of lockdown. We will continue to offer this going forward for current and future talent.
We have been working to help create or notify authorities of the need for a National Governing Body within professional wrestling, we have received many knock backs but will continue to work in this area. Unequivocally we have a huge desire for this to happen and will continue working with the Wrestling All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG). There are many who want to make positive change and rebuild wrestling. Until that time our safeguarding and code of conduct policies will be the highest possible within this and other entertainment industries.
We are very proud to have created a Referee Roster and are setting the highest standards in the industry for their training. They will be used in other promotions and we are keen to help across all promotions in this regard. Our referees will not only be the best-trained but will continue to have the authority to end matches if they feel talent cannot continue safely.
We have received lots of amazing messages from fans about what the company means to them and we will create the best shows going forward, we don’t take anyone’s attendance for granted.
Working alongside talent for long-term storylines and a real focus on the female talent is key for us. There is a huge pool of talent, both established and up-and- coming, that we look forward to working with. We have a commitment to improve our diversity and inclusion across everything that we do.
There will always be lots of questions, with that in mind we have offered up our time to a newly-created fans committee that we will talk to monthly, or as frequently as required. Please use them for your questions and concerns as they will have a direct liaison with us, you can contact us directly too but this feels like a good way of us not missing feedback from you.
Jon Briley is now the sole owner of PROGRESS. Jon is currently on hiatus due to an ongoing health condition. Company operations will be overseen by James Amner. Lucy Cave will be overseeing safeguarding and digital communications. We will be looking to fill other roles going forward, more information will follow. Due to her other commitments, Vicky Haskins was not able to be a part of this process. The level of work that has happened over the last four weeks to build a new infrastructure has been a huge task and it would have been unfair to add additional work load. From a personal perspective I came on board to assist the project, but with research, education and the accountability to make sure that the survivors of Speaking Out get a safe environment to return to, my role has changed to have a far bigger level of responsibility. With this research and education I am confident that we can deliver the highest talent and fan safeguarding.
Club PROGRESS will be rolled into 2021, existing members will have a full calendar year on top of any existing usage that may happen in 2020. We want to put on shows as soon as possible but fans and talents health and wellbeing remain paramount. Ideally we will only come back once full attendances are feasible but we are constantly monitoring regional and national guidelines.
We will be trialling having the month of June off from live shows to give wrestlers a break. We are not naive enough to think wrestlers will not perform during this time, but it will give them a set month to take a break if they need. Whilst all of our policies will be constantly reappraised throughout the year, we will also use this time to take a more in depth look at them.
Feedback has pointed towards talent and audience member interaction when selling merchandise. We will offer to sell merch for talent, or have crew on hand to oversee the merch area depending on their preference. To ensure talent’s income is maximised we will share diaries with other companies to try and eliminate double bookings, this will also mean high quality referees will be able to be in attendance at events.
Other areas we are trying to operate change is through not utilising social media to instigate feuds and matches if talent have no desire to do so, likewise management. Social media is a source of mental health issues and we have a duty to look after our talent and not subject them to an unsafe online environment.
We will be taking select media interviews – please email [email protected] with your information and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
Going forward we want people to understand that the talent will be scrutinised and the highest standards expected from them, and they can expect the highest standards of safeguarding from us to protect them. Likewise audience members should always feel safe and know where help is at all times. We are proud of our team and the first show back is something we are all looking forward to, no stone will be left unturned. Please know that we will always be working hard behind the scenes, that is our promise to you.
Stay safe and we hope to see you soon.