Category: Volunteering

A Beginner’s Guide to Festivaling with Oxfam: The Top 5 Q+As

This year’s festival season is sadly over, yet anticipation for next summer is already building. Welcoming hundreds of newbies to our Facebook page we know that, although it may be getting gloomier outside, festival fans still have their sights squarely set on summer. This is especially the case as, as the summer of 2019 approaches so does Glastonbury’s long-foretold return. So if you can’t wait to go Glasto …. or Boomtown, or WOMAD, or the 20 other festivals Oxfam saves spots at for that matter, but are wondering what festivaling with Oxfam is actually like – then this is the article for you. We’ve compiled a comprehensive list of answers to of our top 5 most asked questions just for you.

If you haven’t already, make sure you register your interest to join us next year here.

Here’s your very own beginner’s guide to festivaling with Oxfam:

Q1 : What are the different ways you can volunteer at festivals with Oxfam?

A: If you’ve heard about going to festivals with Oxfam, it’s most likely you’ve heard about stewarding. Stewarding makes up the most of Oxfam’s volunteering spots and essentially means you’ll be ensuring the smooth running of a festival as its eyes and ears. This could involve checking wristbands, giving directions, patrolling the arena, spotting fires, and a general range of other helpfulness-based responsibilities. So if you enjoy helping people out and a bit of variety in your work, stewarding might be the one for you.

If it’s not, then never fear there’s still plenty of other ways to get involved.  If you have 3 months experience working at your local Oxfam shop then you could apply to volunteer at one of Oxfam’s wonderfully weird and wacky festival shops. If you’re practical and good at setting things up, logistics occasionally recruits on the Oxfam Festivals Facebook page.  If you’re passionate about social causes and have an outgoing personality, then you should consider volunteering as a campaigner. If you fancy learning more about the different roles before making a decision, then you can also follow this link for full descriptions and videos about what each role entails.

Spreading the love between stewards and campaigners – Photo Credit: Zara Canfield/Oxfam

Q2: What will my shifts be like?

A: Shifts vary depending on how you decide to volunteer, but whatever role you pick you’ll earn your entry through committing 24 hours of the festival to it. Stewarding you’ll do three 8 hour shifts and campaigning you’ll do four 6 hour ones. Shops and logistics place some of their shifts setting up before and closing down after the festival, but pretty much follow a similar pattern to stewarding and campaigning.

Stewarding shifts usually include one night shift (full disclosure), if you’re volunteering with a friend you can request them as your shift partner in your application, and the times and tasks of your shift will be told to you at an on-site briefing. There’s also a very active shift swapping board available in our Oxfam marquee, so if you’re desperate to see a particular band you don’t have to stick to the shifts you’re given. If you choose to campaign all your shifts will be in the middle of the day, so no shift swapping and shift partners are decided on-site. Both roles also involve a small amount of training before arriving at the festival. For stewarding this will be a couple of hours online or face-to-face, and for campaigning it will be reading up on the campaign and other information in your pre-season emails – easy-peasy.

Stewards finding the coolest spot to sleep off the night shift during one of this summer’s scorchers – Photo Credit: Jo Sherwood/Oxfam

Q3: What will I get out of volunteering with Oxfam?

A: As far as pros go not only is your entry free, just having to pay a deposit, but you can roll on this deposit to other festivals meaning you can do a whole summer of festivals for the deposit price of one. If you decide to do at least two festivals using this system then you also get another big pro of being on Oxfam’s priority list for Glastonbury next year, meaning you’ll be able to go without the hefty price tag and stress of refreshing for a ticket. Plus, on-site with Oxfam you’ll have access to plenty of festival luxuries including secure camping, free hot drinks, a meal token per shift worked, hot showers and phone charging – hallelujah!

Volunteering can also give a boost to your CV. If you’re interested in events management for instance then stewarding is advantageous in giving you an insight into how festivals operate. Stewarding also means that you are being put in a position of responsibility and working in a team, employable skills across the board. As a campaigner, you’ll learn how to deliver information effectively and how to confidentially approach and persuade new people. Again, these are skills that a lot of employers look for. Though most importantly, whilst you’re volunteering and boosting your CV, you’ll also be. At. A. Festival… Possibly the easiest and most enjoyable way to say you’ve volunteered – if you’re looking to boost your CV then why not do it whilst seeing your favourite artists?

Rubbing shoulders with the stars at Radio 1’s Signing Stage, another perk to volunteering with Oxfam Festivals – Photo Credit: Andria Hanson/Oxfam

Q4: Who is the typical Oxfam volunteer?

A: The great thing about going to a festival with Oxfam is that there is no typical volunteer. Aside from 18 being the minimum age requirement, there is a whole range of ages and backgrounds. From groups of students celebrating the end of exams to festival veterans who are back for their 75th go, Oxfam Festivals attracts all kinds of people. The ‘Oxfamily’ has a wide variety of members with one thing in common – the desire to have fun and do something positive. With this goal in mind, the Oxfamily are some of the most welcoming people you’ll ever meet. Meaning that even if you volunteer on your own, you’re likely to leave with plenty of new friends. If you want to read more about peoples’ experience with Oxfam and the Oxfamily as a festival first-timer, then you can take a look at our interview with 2 newbies.

Q5: When can I apply?

A: Applications are usually opened in the new year, but you can register your interest now so you don’t miss out on our opening date! Following us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram is also a handy way to ensure that you’re kept in the loop, and if you’re looking for more info on how to apply then take a look at this article for advice.

Snapped by an Oxfam volunteer at Glastonbury 2017 – Photo Credit: Kris Wright

Don’t let the rain get you down, register now and start planning your summer – its only 8 months, 1 week and 2 days away!

From the Field – Oxbox Out! 

World Mental Health Day 2018

World Mental Health Day is today (10th October 2018). Today is a vital day to raise awareness about the importance of mental health and to break the social stigma. Oxfam Festivals recognises the importance of mental health awareness and how we can all support others in the Oxfamily.

It can be easy to dismiss mental health problems as something that only
affects others. But, with 1 in 4 people experiencing mental health problems
every year, it can happen to any of us – a friend, a member of the family, or
work colleague.

Our volunteers have always expressed how they feel part of a fantastic community and research shows that interacting with others can boost feelings of well-being and improve your mood. So, Oxfam festivals are proud to be able to offer thousands of volunteers the opportunity to meet new people by volunteering their time, as well as be rewarded by having time off to enjoy the festival.

One of the best things about volunteering at a festival with Oxfam, apart from the live music and fun atmosphere, is the community spirit amongst our volunteers. You can volunteer as part of a big group but many people come alone as you won’t be alone for very long! Many of our long-term volunteers started off as solo festival-goers. Our huge family of volunteers welcomed them with open arms, and now every year they look forward to seeing familiar faces and meeting lots of new people at each festival.

A first-time volunteer from this summer shared how her experience this summer helped her through a difficult time with her anxiety and depression. It is stories like this that make us proud to be able to support so many volunteers over summer.

You can also check out a video here about how volunteering helped Alex boost her confidence and make new friends!

So if you’re struggling, or you’re just looking to make some new friends, consider volunteering at a music festival with Oxfam next summer. You can register your interest here and in the meantime, you can find the Oxfam Festivals Chat group on Facebook, where we keep in touch, share news and memories from previous festivals, and generally have a good time together.

It is time to speak up, support others and raise awareness of the importance of mental health. So why not check in on someone close to you or have a cuppa and a chat with a colleague. If someone you know is acting differently then step in and make sure to #asktwice.

If you would like to talk to someone about your mental health or some like some more information for others, there is lots of support out there by following any of the links below. It’s okay not to be okay.

See you on the field!

Oxfam Festivals team

Telephone: 116 123
(24 hours a day, free to call)

Telephone: 0300 123 3393
(9am-5pm Monday to Friday)

Elefriends is a supportive online
a community where you can be yourself.
Elefriends is run by Mind.

Rethink Mental Illness Advice Line
Telephone: 0300 5000 927
(9.30am-4pm Monday to Friday)