Newsflash! Festivals don’t have to be expensive, and they certainly don’t have to represent the hedonistic decadence that they have come to be associated with. It’s very possible and worthwhile to consider working for a charity at a festival this summer. If the idea of spending a summer in a field listening to some of the world’s biggest bands for free, surrounded by other people who are as charity minded as you, and working to raise money and awareness for charity appeals to you, then read on!
Oxfam have been providing the majority of stewards at UK festivals for many years now, and the time is here to submit your applications for summer 2015. Stewarding at festivals is a great way of bagging a free ticket, doing a very necessary and rewarding job, and helping charity all in one fell swoop. The festival organisers donate to Oxfam in return for Oxfam’s sourcing of stewards, so not only will you have an amazing summer, but the money raised will directly benefit someone else in the world. Last summer Oxfam made over one million pounds from festivals alone, which provides invaluable support for the world’s poorest. You have to pay a deposit equivalent to the ticket price for the most expensive festival you are applying to, but this one deposit covers you for as many festivals as you want to work at. Your deposit will be returned in full a couple of weeks after the end of your final festival – on the condition that you complete all of your shifts.
So where could you be working? Oxfam provides stewards at the following festivals: Bearded Theory, Love Saves The Day, Hay Festival, Glastonbury, NASS, 2000 Trees, Latitude, Somersault, WOMAD, Nozstock, Tramlines, Camp Bestival, Boardmasters, Boomtown Fair, Beautiful Days, Trailtrekker, Shambala, Reading, Leeds, and Bestival. That’s right, a whopping twenty festivals to choose from. The festivals are taking place throughout the summer across the breadth of the country, and with performers ranging from Kendrick Lamar to Kate Tempest to The Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain then you’re guaranteed to find a festival to suit you.
Jobs that you could end up doing as a steward are very varied; you could be checking tickets at one of the many gates into the Glastonbury site, directing Mumford and Sons fans to the main stage at Reading, handing out festival programs at Bestival, or welcoming Jason Manford’s tour bus at Latitude. You’ll work three 8 hour shifts as a steward, and in return you’ll get a free festival ticket and three meal tokens (free music and free food!). While the work might not always be the most exciting, you will have an overnight shift, and you might have to miss seeing your favourite band if you’re on shift, remember that the time you’re not on shift is completely your own to explore the festival. Apply to be a steward here: http://www.oxfam.org.uk/stewarding.
There is a large community of experienced and budding stewards on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/oxfamfestivalsteam/) who will be happy to answer any questions you might have about the stewarding experience. It’s also important to note that even if you go alone to a festival, you won’t be alone for long. Festivals are famed for their friendly atmosphere, which is amplified when you’re part of the ‘Oxfamily’. Many stewards go alone, and leave with life-long friends! Another option is to sign up to steward with up to four shift partners. This means that you can work your shifts with your friends, and have the same hours free to enjoy the festival. If you think living in a tiny house in the Viaduct for the past year has been good bonding experience, get ready to learn a lot more about each other as you bunk down in a tent for a week.
An alternative role supporters of Oxfam can take up at festivals is that of a campaigner. Campaigners work daytime shifts (so you won’t miss any headliners!) to promote Oxfam’s campaigns and to talk to festival-goers about the charity. If you’re confident and passionate about the work Oxfam does then this is the role for you. The application process to be a campaigner is slightly more rigorous than that for stewarding, as Oxfam are keen for people to prove their dedication to the cause. You’ll be asked to give examples of any skills and experience which would benefit you in the role, and also to make a 2 minute Youtube video detailing why people should support Oxfam. You’ll be given full training on how to approach people in the most effective way, and you’ll gain very valuable experience in campaigning which can look great on a CV. There are still spaces for campaigners at Glastonbury, Latitude, WOMAD, Camp Bestival, Reading, Leeds and Bestival – so if any (or all) of these take your fancy then you can apply here – http://www.oxfam.org.uk/get-involved/festivals/campaigners.
The final and most specific way you can volunteer with Oxfam at a festival is to work in their festival shop. Oxfam shops are a familiar front to the charity for most people, and it is no different at festivals. They stock essentials such as wellies, warm clothes, and waterproofs, alongside luxuries such as preowned designer bags and scarves. Not only can festival-goers score a bargain here, but they can also learn about Oxfam’s latest campaigns. This volunteering opportunity is only open to those who have worked in an Oxfam shop for at least 3 months, but if you tick this box then this is the job for you. You will be staffing the festival shop, pricing items, and you might even get to help out running an Oxfam mini fashion show featuring clothes from the shop. If you’re interested in fashion and have experience working in an Oxfam shop, then you can spend your summer at Glastonbury, Latitude, WOMAD, Kendal Calling, Leeds or Bestival. Apply here: http://www.oxfam.org.uk/get-involved/festivals/festival-shop-volunteers.
So get your applications in soon, grab your wellies and your fluorescent tabard, and I’ll see you in a field!