Festival volunteering

Over the summer I find myself with a lot of time. As I’m sure other students may agree, we don’t always have the money to be able to go travelling or attended events every weekend – but that doesn’t mean we should miss out.

When I came to the end of my first year I decided it was time start making plans for summer. I already had my part-time job to go back home to and plans to catch up with family and friends, but I found I needed something for myself. I decided to try my hand at some volunteering, not just to help a great cause, but to also gain some personal fulfilment and experience.

Searching through my options I found that Oxfam takes on volunteers for a number of festivals each year, and with me studying event management I thought this was the perfect opportunity! I looked through the list of vacancies and found a festival local to where I live which didn’t require me to camp or travel too far – up to this point I hadn’t travelled very far alone.

The festival was Tramlines in Sheffield, which differs from your typical festival as this one takes place at various temporary and permanent venues across the city. I submitted my application, along with the paying the ticket fee for the festival as a deposit for my shift – which was refunded once I had worked the required hours.

For the next stage, I was invited along to a training session which all volunteers were required to undertake. It was very insightful and I got a taste of the work Oxfam do. It also taught me how to deal with the array of situations that might arise when volunteering.

On the first day of the festival, I was given an on-site training session where we were taken on a tour of the main festival route, told what was expected of us and given our shifts for the weekend.

At the start of each shift we were briefed on our roles and given a free meal voucher for the day. The shifts were 8 hours, but we rarely did the same thing rash time, usually swapping roles, which allowed us to see the festival from lots of different angles.

The stewarding roles included giving directions to venues, ensuring the crowds crossed the road safely, helping out in the queues or standing on gates and platforms to ensure that the correct people were given access.

One great advantage of being a festival volunteer over just attending the festival is that you are given a VIP wristband that virtually lets you through any gate, meaning no queuing for the toilets and you can potentially mix with the acts backstage (as I did when I took a wrong turn to the staff area and ended up backstage – but didn’t have the confidence to try and talk to anyone).

Your wristband is also your weekend ticket that allows you in any venue, so while you’re off shift you’re able to attend pretty much anything you like.

All the perks of the festival for the fraction of the price. I highly recommend doing this and I plan to venture to a further festival in the future.


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